The original plan was to pack on Wednesday and leave the Lake
on Thursday morning after breakfast. As things turned out,
Gillian was at the tail end of a writing project which required
all her time and attention so packing on Wednesday was out of
By Dave Pearson, PA
Well, not entirely out of the question. I was able to gather
our belongings into a few rough piles and start mentally
planning how I was going to stuff all these things into such
a small car. We came to the Lake separately, each dragging his
or her own bundle of "lake necessities." Now the consolidated
piles looked like more than the poor Rav 4 could handle. If I
filled the car, there was no room for anyone, save the driver.
One person and two dogs would have to take the bus home from
the Lake. Conversely, all the mammals could ride in the car
which would be reasonably packed and the overflow could be
shipped home UPS.
What a mess. Fortunately, this situation couldn't be resolved until Thursday.
"I can't do any more here. I'm going to get in a couple hours of fishing."
"Where are you going?"
"Over to the Swift. There is a rainbow who mocked me all last
week. Maybe I can catch him. (Maybe I can figure out how to
cram all our belongings into such a small space. Maybe I can
get all the toothpaste back into the tube.)
"I'll be back before dinner."
I gathered my gear, jumped into the car, and left.
I fished several streams when I was in New Hampshire, but the
stream I fished most often was the Swift. It has a fly-fish-only
section that runs through the Hemenway state forest. It's not a
catch-and-release section and if I felt so inclined, I could have
kept two brook trout. At least that's how the sign read: "two
brook trout limit." I took this to mean that I could keep, in
addition to the two brook trout mentioned in the regulation,
three rainbow trout for a total of five fish (or five pounds
of fish, whichever came first) as mentioned in the general regulations.
I found out much later that, in the state of New Hampshire,
all trout living in moving water are often referred to generically
as "brook trout" Thus, the two brook trout limit on this section
of the Swift is in actuality a two trout limit. It's a good thing
I kept no trout.
I parked, donned my waders, and slowly made my way to the water.
The rainbow in question lives beside a rock which breaks the whitewater
at the head of a pool. The rock is three feet or so from shore, so the
whitewater is forced into this narrow chute created by the shore and
the rock. Just downstream from the rainbow's hiding place, the water
slows a bit and deepens on one side of the pool, but actually picks
up speed on the other. You can see the problem taking shape. The
drift must be drag-free. The varying currents make this tough, but
not impossible. However, you must cast over the slow deep side of
the pool to get a good float beside the rock, and here lives a
smaller trout that, once you line him, tears up under the rock where
his buddy, the big rainbow, is hiding. So the trick is to get the
smaller trout first, without alerting the bigger trout.
I crawled into the water and carefully got into position. My first cast
went to the smaller trout. He rose and took the fly. I horsed him
downstream and took a moment to admire him before I released him.
He was a good sized brookie, well over a foot long, and had I caught
him on the Ellis the day before, I would have called him a trophy.
As it was, he was a stocked fish, so I released him with little
fanfare to pursue the rainbow at the head of the pool.
The rainbow had shown himself to me three times the week before.
The first time was a splashy refusal at my fly. The second time
he followed my fly for a few feet before it started to drag, at
which time he sank out of sight. The third time was what I thought
was a confident take, but the fly proved fishless as I set the
hook. I hesitate to estimate in inches or pounds the size of
this fish. Suffice it to say he was substantially bigger than
I crawl back into position, put on fresh tippet, retie my knots,
and cast to the chute of water between the rock and shore. The
cast is perfect. The float is perfect. No fish. I try again.
The cast is less perfect and the float not quite as good...but
adequate. Still, no fish. I change flies. Nothing. After a few
more casts, I move on. Maybe he's wise to me by now. Maybe
someone else caught him.
I moved upstream and caught a few more brook trout. Then I made
my way back to the Lake and dinner.
Thursday morning I managed to get all of our belongings into
the car, though the dogs were riding much higher in the back
seat than I imagined was possible. And the passenger had to
ride with baggage in his lap.
We left mid-afternoon and arrived home in the wee hours.
A few days later, I wet a line in my familiar central Pennsylvania
The stream was cold and shallow. I fished all morning and part
of the afternoon.
The fishing was hard and the catching was terrible. I loved it. Welcome home.
~ Dave (black gnat)
Dave Pearson lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania with his
loving wife, Gillian, and two dogs, Casey and Booboo.
His passion is small mountain streams. He teaches guitar
for a living. You may contact Dave at:
Hemlock Headwaters Archives