Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Nature of it All
With my 3-in-1 back pack loaded with my float tube, fins, pump and fishing gear I head down the forest access lane excited to do some largemouth bass fishing. I would have liked to have gotten out earlier but I wanted to make sure I had a filling breakfast for the days fishing excursion in the remote backwoods swamp in the ANF.
The morning is quietly still on my walk down the lane. The cool morning air keeps my lungs alive and fresh with each breath. The grass is wet with dew as small spider webs are noticeable time to time from the morning dampness. 35 minutes into my stroll I come within vision of Buzzard Swamp. I stop along the trail and take in the scenery and quiet solitude of it all.
The last layer of fog lies upon the water, soon to burn off with the rising sun. There’s a light haze higher above the pond as the rising moisture dissipates in thin air. Old gray tree trunks stand within the pond as I remembered from my last visit. Maybe a few less branches extend from their frames having broken off from high winds or just snapping from age and wear. Overgrown grassy and green fields grace the outlying area with tan tassels and yellow flowering buds adding a lighter hue to the green vegetation. Strong healthy, forest green, trees partially line the pond as the weaker fallen trees now make good cover, within the water, for pond life. Streaks of white clouds, as if made be passenger jets, catch my attention as they never seem to end forefront of the baby blue morning sky.
Up on the earth work I push my straw hat tighter upon my pate for fear that the stronger wind might grab a hold and toss it in the pond. I slowly change out of my chest waders and lay my gear upon the grassy area. I place each item strategically in the 3-in-1 back pack and lift it on my shoulders. I take one last look over the wavy pond while I pull out an Arturo Curly Head cigar from its cellophane wrapper. Cupping my hands, from the wind, I light the end and puff on the brown wrapped butt until smoke appears in my cupped hand. Releasing my hands the smoke escapes into oblivion.
The long walk back is sobering but my surroundings keep my hearing and vision attentive. Bear dung occasionally is found along the path as well as deer droppings. A few barking squirrels are heard when the wind dies down. The cigar keeps me relaxed and not hurrying in my pace. As I reach the van I drop my pack and reach into the cooler for a cold Miller GD. The cold beer quenches my thirst and wets my palate from the dryness of my cigar smoking. After putting my gear away I check the time at 5:20. My stomach growls with anticipation of food. I recheck the straps, holding the canoe on the roof, and take off towards the Kelly Hotel for wings and a brew or two.
I awake to the growling of my innards. I figure it’s either from the wings at the Kelly or the mixture of Jim Beam and Squirt I consumed at Rays Hot Spot last night. I noticeably hear an occasional rain drop falling upon the canoe on top of the van roof. The rain, throughout the night, has ceased and upon opening the side door I conclude, if I hurry, I might be able to get a little fishing in before the next shower. Not wanting to waste time I sip on a glass of Sunny D while gearing up for some river trout fishing. My movement is slow at first but as my joints loosen up I begin to move with ease. I eat a slice of cold breakfast ham and enjoy a thawed out blueberry muffin.
I string up my 5wt Scott rod and rig it with 7 ½’ of 6x tapered leader. I toss a few trout boxes into my rain jacket pockets and head out to the mouth of the creek that empties into the river.
From along the bank I watch a flock of ducks drifting with the current, mid-river. A heavy blanket of fog consumes the tops of mountainous trees, hiding any sky above. Thick forested trees stand almost lifeless as there is no wind to rustle their leaves. A few crows caw out in the distant and a lone squirrel barks from across the river upon some unknown branch. His barking denotes hunting season will soon be upon us. The warmness of September will give way to the cool mornings and chilly evenings of the up coming month of October. Soon the forested green trees of summer will mystifyingly transform the forest into the splendid colors of autumn. I can picture fidgety chipmunks and annoying pine squirrels chirping at my presence. I can almost hear the sounds of paws scampering upon dried fallen leaves, ducks quacking along a waterway. a grouse drumming or the sound of a turkey stretching its wings before flying off its roost in the earliest morning light. The musty smell of wet moss will overpower the sweet smell of summer wild flowers and blossoms. The sound of acorns thumping off of dead branches or hollow logs. A deer snort that stops me dead in my tracks, with weapon ready, listening for the next sound to discover its whereabouts.
I tie on my favorite beetle imitation and cast to the brushy bank. Again and again I cast along the shoreline without a rise. With the cooler night time temps I figure the trout must have moved out into the open river, maybe to the opposite bank. I tie on a woolly bugger and make my way across river. With no hits on the bugger I tie on a #10 orange Humpy. I drop the Humpy upon a riffle created by a few surface top rocks in the shallow water. The Humpy waffles to the tail end without a take. After 2 more casts in the same area I let a long cast of 9’ leader and line out towards a huge creviced boulder. The Humpy drops a couple of feet from its rounded edges. I take up slack as the fly drifts slowly on the calmer water. A fish surfaces with a splash but I’m late getting the long length of line moving fast enough for a hook set and the fly flutters towards me. I cast to another area a few times before returning to the missed fish. This time he rises less furious and I’m ready with the long hook set. I feel the fish on the other end briefly. As he takes line behind an exposed boulder I throw my fly line up and over, downstream trying to avoid a snag. With that, the hook and Humpy flies free and I’m left fishless.
I fish the bank down to the shallow choppy water. I than fish the river back to the creek mouth. The sky is turning darker and I can smell rain in the air. I reel in and head for camp.
Rain water that gathered on cupped leaves, overnight, now fall in droplets as a slight breeze feathers the tree tops. I listen to them tap on thicker leaves and thin branches. I shake the wetness off the tent and than begin to dismantle the poles. Daddy Long-Legs sprint to other parts of the tent fabric. It’s strange how they refuse to take to the ground floor until the last moment of completing folding the tent. A few will get caught up among the folds only to be discovered later in a leg tangling pretzel shape.
I somberly take down the canopy top and frame. My movements are slow as I don’t want to leave but the oncoming clouds look to present a shower of rain that will make a mess of my camping gear. I gather the rest of my stuff and carry them to the gravel area near my van. I return the most used items back into their original places inside my ’camp on wheels’. I place the canopy, tent, water jugs and cooler on the van floor for easy access to take them out when I get back home. A fine mist of rain sprinkles the windshield as I start the 318 engine and turn on the windshield wipers.
I pull out an Arturo Curly Head cigar and lip wet the Candela tobacco that’s wrapped over the filler tobacco. The light green wrapper is more flavorful and smoother than the natural brown wrapped cigars. I take my time driving along the river watching for wildlife that may appear amonst the forest.
It wasn’t much of a ‘fish catching’ weekend but the solitude and nature of it all always fulfills my ‘Pennsylvania Wilds’ yearning!