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

Last Cast

Last Cast

The light of the last day of the year began to fade, and I reminisced a bit. It’s been an incredible year for me, full of life lessons that I probably needed to work on for some time now.

Here’s to living the next year vividly . . .

What to Trust

What to Trust

Of the good fishermen I know, one thing I see in all of them is how easily they can reach conclusions about fish habits. They have a knack for knowing what to trust and when to trust it.

The damned thing about a river is that it changes every day, and the habits of trout follow. If you’re observant enough to see the dynamics of a river, you can predict how the fish will respond, just by correlating their behavior patterns with the changes in water level, clarity, food availability, etc. Often, though, that’s a big leap to take. And it requires trusting in your observations enough to act decisively on them . . .

The Further You Walk, the More You Leave Behind

The Further You Walk, the More You Leave Behind

You’re alone, and it’s still not enough. You can feel the pressure of communities, of people and things. It’s coming from behind. You want to feel lonesome again. So you walk.

This place is yours again, if just for a while . . .

You’d walk twice as far if it got you here every time . . .

Thirty-Inch Liars

Thirty-Inch Liars

Every fisherman in the parking lot seems to have a thirty-inch fish story, don’t they?

You know what I hear when someone says a fish was “about two feet long?” I hear: “I didn’t measure the fish.”

Bass guys don’t put up with this stuff. My friend, Sawyer (a dedicated bass and musky guy), is dumbfounded by the cavalier way trout fishermen throw estimates around. In his world, if you didn’t measure it, you don’t put a number on it. They take it seriously. We trout fishermen embarrass ourselves with estimates.

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 . . .

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