April 23rd, 2007

No Hemlock Headwaters this Week
By Dave Pearson, PA

Hi Deanna,
Sorry for such short notice, but I wasn't able to get my act together this week and put pen to paper. Even at this late stage of the game, I'm racking my brain for a hook on a bunch of topics and nothing is coming...sorry. This past week was much more eventful than I anticipated and I ran out of time.

Monday was my opener. I wasn't able to get out on Saturday (which was a beautiful day, by the way) but I put Monday aside as my day to fish for stocked trout in open water. As it turns out, it was also the second day of the unseasonably late nor'easter which lashed the east coast. We were preparing for as much as a foot of snow, but got a little bit of sleet, slush, and rain…..and a whole lot of wind. So, down here in the valley, the wind was whipping, trees were swaying, and branches were falling to the ground. I feared for my roof. But I went to the mountains to fish anyway.

Here's a little known fact. The little high mountain streams just don't get the wind that we get here in the valley. Think about it. The stream is in the lowest portion of the terrain protected on two sides by close mountains. The trees on the hills absorb most of the wind. You just get the occasional gust down the stream. So in the valley the wind can be blowing greater than it was in Kansas in The Wizard of Oz, but in the higher elevations you can fish unhampered by wind.

So I went to a stocked stream in the mountains...and there was no wind...but, it snowed. And I caught no fish...one strike, but no fish. So much for being clever. Lol!

On Tuesday I went to Philly in a borrowed car. Mine was in the shop getting a new alternator. As is my habit, I fished the Wissahickon for a couple of hours between lessons. Well, remember that nor'easter? It hit Philly with a vengeance dumping almost six inches of water in eighteen hours on Monday. So on Tuesday the creek was running about four feet high with runoff that colored the water with mud. But time spent fishing is time spent fishing. I put on a small black clouser I had tied with bear hair and black flash and fished the eddies as best I could. This meant I fished areas that are normally bone dry land…places that never see water. And I caught a few fish. A hand twist retrieve turned the trick.

Wednesday I got my car back and ran errands 'til the evening when I went to my monthly TU meeting. The speaker that night gave a great talk on the Hellbender Salamander. He studies these in the watershed of the west branch of the Susquehanna. Really shy, fascinating creatures...just ugly as sin. They do not bite nor do they eat trout or trout eggs. They eat mostly crayfish.

White Deer Creek

Thursday morning I got up early and fished the open water of White Deer Creek. Let me tell you, I can't believe I caught more wild fish than stockers. I know this stream is one of the hardest hit on opening day, but there were so few fish left! No wonder the second stocking comes scant days after the first. And the commission is not supposed to stock over wild fish, but if White Deer were not stocked, there would be a revolt. Ultimately, I think, the water is managed for the fishermen first, sometimes to the detriment of the fish. So I caught a couple of stockers and a bunch of wild fish in one of the most heavily stocked streams in the county. And...I had the stream to myself! I left at noon and saw all the other guys rolling in. I wanted to stay and fish the whole day, but I've got to work sometime and my students beckoned.

Friday is the McCalls Dam field trip for the Mifflinburg high school freshmen. This is an annual event scheduled to coincide with Earth Day. Each year my TU chapter volunteers to help out. My job here is to give the kids the aquatic bug lecture and the water quality lecture. I set up a display of bugs I've netted from the creek and explain the life cycle of the mayfly, stonefly, caddis, etc. Then I talk about the importance of riparian zones and related topics. I do this for twenty five minutes or so. Then I do it all over again for the next group of freshmen. I do this eight times...starting at about 9:30 am and ending at 2:30 pm. By the time the last of the kids is safely on the bus and homeward bound, I'm beat. For the ast four years I've helped out at this event. It's quite rewarding. Earlier in the morning, before the kids arrive, I fish the C&R section. This year I got ice in my guides and managed a couple of fish. By mid-afternoon, the temperature is in the mid seventies.

Saturday was clean-up day at Penns Creek...another TU event. We picked up trash streamside and roadside. Then we went fishing. The Hendricksons were coming off like gangbusters... but no rising fish. And no one could coax a rise, either. So, Gillian, our dog Casey, and I made our way up Cherry Run. Let me see...how can I put this?

Casey being dog

I learned it is not a good idea to take a flat-coated retriever puppy fishing if one wants to actually catch fish. But the weather was great and a day on the stream with my family is always time well spent.

Wild Trout

Today, after church, we framed pictures for a contest put on as part of the Lewisburg Arts Festival. I framed a couple of wild trout.


Gillian had a couple of dandy pictures of some coltsfoot and some fungus.

Oyster Fungi

A shot of the two dogs rounded out the entries.

Our dogs

And this brings me to now and this hastily written missive. I'll do my best next week to write a column for you. Who knows – I might even get it to you on time!

I trust all is well with you and Jim.

As always, Gillian sends her regards.

~ 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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