Waiting On Luck

by | Oct 3, 2021 | 2 comments

Somewhere along the line, our luck ran out. That string of success, of willing trout, good size and numbers, simply ended. The weather turned foul and filled the creeks with mud. With runoff from spring fields, those soils, loose and unrooted, gave up enough earth to send streams of color — brown lines from ditches that merged and mixed with the main stem, until far enough downstream the next ditch already matched the river’s flow.

Dad and I were just a few days into our annual spring camping trip. Back then — all those years ago — we stayed for a week. Dad took vacation. And before my kids were born, a less complicated life permitted these extended stays. We camped in the same spot, high atop a mountain, year after year. Then, early each morning, we’d drive down the east side or the west. Either way, both rocky roads met the same meandering river, tucked away into state forest land as it wound and barreled around multiple U-turns along the course.

With two days of hard rain, the fish turned off. Being springtime on a popular river, there were enough anglers out there in the beginning. At first, short conversations with fly fishers remained positive, hopeful even, that the added flow would stir the already feeding trout into a frenzy, maybe making a good thing even better. That didn’t happen. And after two days, with the river now bank-full, the out-of-state plates went home — or they stayed at camp.

With the river at its peak, Dad and I spent a drizzly day with no one in sight at any hour, early or late. Alone together against the odds, we landed the occasional fish purely by accident. Yes, we targeted the backwaters. Sure, we fished deer hair sculpins, worm patterns and chartreuse things. But such are the measures suggested by those who peddle wishful thinking more than experience. Nothing was consistent in those roiling waters.

Regardless, Dad and I fished. And we hoped.

We were waiting on luck.

Photo by Bill Dell

We fished the tribs the day before Dad had to leave, and that was great exploration — good to be back to some favorite haunts and watch the Border Collie run and hurdle gracefully at full speed through the woods of fallen timber. His athletic form leaped and bounded across, up and over broken hemlocks. He cut through tangles of branches with ease, eyes forward, never a misstep, as though he had radar or some sixth sense. The way that dog ran through the woods was a marvel. And I think we chose the far valley as much for his pleasure than for our own fishing — which was slow.

We reminisced about a trip from decades ago, when once we built a road of dead tree branches to help lend the truck enough traction to pull the camper from the mud and slop, because days of rain showers had done it again. Yes, many of my trips with Dad have stories about rain. But these were spring trips after all. And early on, we camped near the water, until we found the paradise spot on a mountain top.

Dad and I broke camp on a sunny morning — the kind that burned dew from the ferns, turning it into a quick, steamy fog before being absorbed into air dry enough to provide a new spirit to open hearts.

“Good weather for packing up camp,” Dad said.

“Even better for fishing receding water in the braids above the cabin,” I told him.

And that’s what I did.

I followed Dad and the camper off the mountain and flashed my headlights with a goodbye. Then I turned right and traveled the winding road beside the tributary until it led to the big river and a dead-end gravel lot. I met another angler there who was returning with his hopes dashed, just as the others from days ago.

“They wouldn’t bite,” he said, no matter what he threw at them.

We spoke as I geared up, and my dog nosed the man’s waders. The man patted Dylan on the head before we walked off, and he wished us good luck.

“I’m waiting on it,” I replied with a wave.

Fish hard, friends.

 

** Donate ** If you enjoy this article, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 700+ articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers.
Your support is greatly appreciated.

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Fishing With Kids — The Independence Marker

Fishing With Kids — The Independence Marker

At thirteen years old, he has enough experience with the woods and water that I don’t think twice about dropping him off to fish for the evening, awaiting his call when he’s either fished out or it’s getting dark. When I pick him up, he’s full of excitement and stories, or he is calm and peaceful in a way that I don’t often see him. I let him be, in those times, and allow the experience for him to soak in, as he processes a return to the world after a long outing. Leaving the water to rejoin life is sometimes a hard turn.

Kids soak in the rhythms of nature. And later in life, maybe around twelve years old, that base of experience pays off . . .

Following Through

Following Through

This morning should have been like any other. Kill the alarm and hate life for the first five minutes as my body begrudgingly catches up to the will of ambition. Coffee helps. So does the routine, because the inevitability of repetition and pattern seems certain. It cannot be challenged. So, no, you cannot go back to bed. Go fishing . . .

I’ll Meet You Upstream . . .

I’ll Meet You Upstream . . .

I was in that stage of learning where I’d read more than I could put to use, while Rich had already fished more than he could ever find the words to tell.

. . . Somewhat stunned by the beauty of it all, I fell silent and let time creep along, until the slow motion whitewater of the falls mixed with the endless emerald shades reflecting in the softwater glides. An impenetrable canopy above stood guard against the angle of the sun and disguised the true time of day. This timeless valley was either day or night — with the details of everything in between insignificant . . .

My Fishing Dogs

My Fishing Dogs

Fishing with a good dog brings a novel joy to average moments. It’s the wet nose on your cheek in the middle of a bankside sit, the shared ham sandwich under dripping evergreen boughs while waiting out a soggy thunderstorm. It’s the simple companionship — the kind that comes without questions or conditions. Our bond with a good dog is pure friendship. It is, quite simply . . . love.

Never Blame the Fish

Never Blame the Fish

When everything you expect to work produces nothing, don’t blame the fish. Think more. Try harder.

When your good drifts still leave the net empty, then don’t settle for good. Make things perfect. Never blame the fish . . .

Super Fly — The Story of a Squirmy Wormy

Super Fly — The Story of a Squirmy Wormy

Occasionally (rarely) something comes along that makes trout go a little crazy. Why? Who the hell knows. But it trips some trigger in trout that makes them move further and eat more than they do for just about anything else. In my life there’ve been only four of these super flies.

In dark bars and seedy internet gatherings, I keep my ear to the ground for rumors of the next super fly. Because those who find one can’t keep a secret for long. And I want to be in on the next fly from the ground up again. I want long months of virgin trout that lust for something original yet familiar, the right mix of bold but non-threatening, curiously edible and irresistible. I want to fish another super fly . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

2 Comments

  1. Beautifully written!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest