Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fishing with Black Velvet

2nd Cousin Lenny shares a dipper of spring water with John and Kathy in 1944

     The Northern Tier of Pennsylvania knows fishing and knows how to send off a fisherman after his last cast.

     If there's one thing that distinguishes the Northern Tier counties in Pennsylvania it's their independent spirit. My cousin Lenny was a good example. When he graduated from high school he cut the bondage cord that held him in unreasonable servitude on my mean grandfather's farm and moved with his mother to a small apartment in town. He was already working 2 jobs to achieve his independence and soon had three. He worked as a snow plow driver, assembly line worker, deliveryman, road crew, farmer, scout master, postmaster, meals-on-wheels driver as well as untold other occupations that I don't know about.
     That independence includes thought and action as well as economics. Lenny was never a slave to conventional wisdom and considered anyone who hadn't figured out what was going on for themselves a damn fool. His actions were always based on doing the right thing even if it was harder, took more energy, or appeared unconventional. When his wife developed Alzheimer's, he told me, "People are afraid to come around Elaine anymore. Hell she hasn't recognized me for a couple years but that doesn't mean she doesn't need and enjoy a good conversation about the weather, TV, the garden, or how's she feeling."
     After the "non-memorial" service at the church where he was a member for 40 years, we were all invited to an informal coffee and cake gathering. Many of the conversations about Lenny seemed to involve fishing trips mostly to Canada and all with some Black Velvet along for comfort. 
     At a gravesite service for just the family, the soon to be ordained minister serving Lenny's church as well as 3 others, intoned the required platitudes and scriptures and then folded his hands and bowed his head for a moment of silence, at which point his daughter Brenda said, "We're not done yet!" Her son when back to the van and returned with a cooler of Coors, a bag of shot glasses, and a bottle of Black Velvet, Special Reserve. We raised a final toast to Lenny and all his fishing trips and good deeds and chased it down with the Coors. 
     Now that's a Northern Tier send-off for a fine guy who knew how to live, how to work, and how to  fish.

Jim, John, Patty, Brenda - Notice the Coors and shot glass next to the ash box.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fishing your home stream over and over.

Fishing your home stream over and over and over.

Just do it   or Just stop it ?

     Is fishing the same stream over and over a sign of senility, lack of imagination, fear of the unknown, or laziness? Or have you found a great place that does not cease to surprise you? Or are you just doing it until you get it right?

     Here's my confession. My home stream used to be the Yellow Breeches, Central Pennsylvania limestone stream.

 No it was Clarks Creek, a spring creek in Central Pennsylvania.

     But now it's Clear Creek, a freestone stream flowing through Clear Creek Canyon. 

    In the last couple weeks I've fished Clear Creek probably 6 or 7 times and I'm starting to feel guilty about it. But friends call and want to fish so I go through the list in my mind eliminating places that are currently impossible to reach. Following the September Storm, which strangely doesn't have a reference name yet, the Big Thompson, South Boulder Creek, and the St Vrain are impossible to reach since the roads have been destroyed. During the SHUTDOWN, which does have a name which I'm hopeful will be remembered the next time these yahoos run for office, all the National Parks, National Forests, and BLM property are closed. No one seems to know what that means except for some occasional road closures, gate closures, and closure announcements. Fishing within these areas is probably doable unless you need assistance for some reason or unless you want to record a state record catch and then being in a "closed area" might close out some of your options. 
    Andrew Todd, sadly with lots of time on his hands as a "fur-lowed" US Coast and Geodetic Survey fish biologist, and I fished Clear Creek again at Mayhem Gulch. Although Clear Creek is now my home stream it is 14 mile long through the Canyon and I'd never actually fished this section because it looked boring.
    It got me to thinking why I fish it. Since I always fish upstream, wading which ever bank gives me the best sun angle to see into the water, I've noticed that I get deja-vue often. A corner or a shelf near Mayhem Gulch looks almost identical to one at Huntsman Gulch, but it's not. And with just a slight change in water flow the underwater stream currents will be completely different, meaning that what worked at Huntsman Gulch may not work in Mayhem. The fish and insect populations must be similar so the same flies should work, but they don't, because the temperature of the air and water, the cloud cover and air pressure are all different from the last time I fished my home stream. 
     My Uncle Red told me that I wasn't learning anything by playing golf on many different courses and told me to stick to my home course until I learned how to play. Ask any fly fisher and they'll tell you they learn something every time they go out. Might as well go to the same class room.

Andrew shares the stream with some gold panners.

Fall Concentration

Size 14 stimulator and a size 18 caddis emerger thanks:

This spot had a deep drop off a few feet off the bank.
Some browns took the stimulator some the emerger. I stopped counting after 20.