The Little Schuylkill's Continued Recovery (PA)
As I reach down to relase a fat little brown trout (the second within
the hour,) a glimpse of white, flickering in the woods, catches my
attention. There! Hidden in the laurels a movement turns to a shadow
and the shadow materializes into a sleek doe with her fawn browsing
on spring grasses. What a beautiful place!
The Little Schuykill River (L.S.,) nestled in the New Ringgold Valley, has
replayed this scene for hundreds of anglers over the past nine years as
it continues its struggle along the road of recovery. Another of our
precious gems tettering precariously on the influence of man.
At the conception of this project I was overwhelmed by the amount of
support offered by concerned sportsmen and environmentalists, all
ready to champion this resource and reclaim it. Since then the L.S.
has received the Scenic River status (a title dubbed deservedly
to only the most beautiful Pennslvania waters) and enjoys a 2-mile
special regularion area which is located in New Ringgold. This stretch
is supported by Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited and is enjoyed by
anglers not only from Schuylkill County but spottings of UFOs
(Unidentified Fishing Objects) have been seen sporting New Jersey
insignias on their crafts. Amazing!
. . . The 12" brown bolts back to its hiding place, becoming, as trout
do so well, a shadow. A dimple under an overhanging hemlock branch
refocuses my thoughts.
What if we had decided not to fight for our river and turned our back
on her? It would surely have been a life sentence to unmonitored
manufactures' discharge and unchecked mine drainage. But the balance
is now in our favor. The Pa. Fish and Boat Commission continues a
stocking program and is presently working with DEP to set up
criteria for improving water quality. There is also much momentum
on a statewide basis to improve the quality of the entire Schuylkill River
Basin, including the Little Schuylkill which has the importance of being
headwater to the largest tributary of the big river.
. . . A lucky cast and a splash indicated a take. This time the rod throbs
with more intensity and the battle is stronger. A 14" plus brown trout
comes to the net. A nice trout by L.S. standards. Actually, a nice trout
by any river's standard.
The doe and her fawn melt into the woods and the trout returns to its
hiding place. The morning air is filled with scents of hemlock and
wildflowers. What a beautiful place! ~ Joe Demarkis
Note: After missing one spring stocking this season, the L.S. has
been returned to the stocking list and receives its regular allotments.
Joe DeMarkis is a partner in the Wilderness Trekker, Little
Schuylkill Fly Shop, and the long-time defender of the river.
He can be reached at 570-366-0165
This article originally appeared in the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide,
August issue. We thank Joe for use permission.
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