Monday, April 05, 2010

Spring and All

Salvelinus Fontinalis
"Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery"

-Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Had enough of the over done water-silking shit yet? Me too, lets move on...

I came to Penns Creek this past weekend expecting easy fishing and a basket full of fish. I found neither. A nuclear blast of photons bathed the glen in warm, bright sunshine and kick started the food chain making it all seem like a bad joke. The creek was bank full this weekend with over 700 CFS of 50-56F limestone green water. Rarely was there another angler in sight back here.

Penns Creek Wild Area
A smattering of black stonflies & tan caddis along with a few precursor Blue Quills and Hendricksons offered a seductive tease of what lays ahead for fellow fish hunters in the coming weeks and months. Active food chain or not it was all I could do to nymph up a couple (2) of respectable fish on each day to avoid getting hit in the face with another skunk.

Mid way through my second day on the river I chucked the whole chucking & ducking gig and ducked back onto the mountains in pursuit of the much more user friendly hemlock trout. For once I made the right decision, over two dozen squaretails were caught and released on dry flies in the 54F freestone water in just over two hours of angling. I kid you not, it was that good! I must have felt as soldiers do when they return home from combat and hear the birds singing for the first time, or perhaps the rustling of the leaves they never noticed before. Life was good and all was right with the world again.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery I made this past Saturday was this weather beaten romantic tablet I stumbled upon while I worked my way upstream along the base of Sawmill Mountain. Nestled in a scenic grove of mature basswood and tulip trees, red oaks, maples and pine trees it bears the inscription of a heartbroken tribute by Lillian Sheffer, aka the Wolf Lady of Paddy Mountain, to a young admirer who drowned while swimming in Penns Creek during a September visit in 1921.

Lillian Sheffer was a track walker on the Lewisburg-Tyrone Railroad along Penns creek and she made daily walks during fire season to look for sparks and embers from the locomotives along the stretch from Paddy Mountain to Coburn. I believe she lived at the second house perched up on the rocky bench along side the Paddy Mountain Tunnel. Evidently young men were scarce during the war and women had to fill in the gaps. I often try to imagine the blizzard like hatches, and tremendous rise of trout, she must have witnessed on her long walks way back when before sedimentation and pesticides came to Gen. James Potter's "empire".

Byron Faust Krumrine
Died at Dusk
September 4th, 1921
while swimming in the waters of Karoondinhha
250 yards west of this spot
Lieut. World War I
Penn State 1919
In Memoriam

by Lillian Sheffer
Sept. 4th, 1923

Parting Shot: Nevermore Creek

Poe Valley.

Mucho thanks to Jonas Price of the Feathered Hook Inn & Fly Shop for the hospitality and Wyatt Dietrich of Dream Catcher Fly Rods for the fine boo'.

Coming next: Bad assed brachycentrus and early hatching subvaria's.