September 3rd, 2007

Home Again
By Dave Pearson, PA

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 the question.

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."

"Have fun."

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 the brookie.

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 headwaters.

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)

About Dave:

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: pdewey2@aol.com

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