I’ve been on a fishing craze recently, and I cannot foresee a hasty end to this current obsession that is holding me captive during my waking hours, but it has benefits beyond fishing in what I see.
Two weeks ago I was on a Finger Lake for four days, hooking and releasing big northern pike, trolling for lake trout, jigging for walleyes and tossing a small hook baited with worm pieces for thick yellow perch and huge, football shaped pumpkinseed sunfish with bright orange bellies — many which were filleted, smothered in breading and deep fried.
While fishing I was witness to young mallards following mom, young geese in a line between mom and dad as they hugged a shoreline away from toothy fish, and an osprey making spectacular dives into the water near my boat, launching himself at a high speed for a meal of fish.
Last week it was back to camp in Tioga County to cast flies to the many trout that I know remain in the Big Pine Creek.
The water was high and muddy when I first arrived, but the following two days of little rain saw the big stream recede sufficiently to allow fishing.
Wading was undertaken with caution, as the water cleared but remained cold and at a high level for late May/early June. Surface activity was minimal during the day, but on Thursday evening standing streamside with a friend as the sun was setting we witnessed a spectacle of nature that is truly a marvel to behold.
We stood talking as darkness was coming, and were surprised as fish started to rise, seemingly because insects began to fly. Within a couple of minutes of those first bugs going airborne, the sky over the water became filled with millions upon millions of brown and green drakes, the brown’s outnumbering the greens about 10 to one.
All were flying upstream, the parade continuous as far downstream, and just as far upstream as we could see. The water was boiling with rising trout, gorging themselves on the bounty. (I apologize for not having a photo to include here as my camera was a good 500 yards away, stashed in my truck).
We did not stay and try to fish again, merely leaving and marveling at the sight of one of nature’s priceless displays.
My remaining two days along the Pine saw me tie on the biggest fly in my box, a huge slate drake imitation. When I headed for home that fly was shredded with pieces missing, a beaten reproduction that I’ve retired to a spot on my home wall on the frame of a trout painting.
Those last two days I was on the Pine were exceptional for trout angling. No other way to put it.
But observing nature’s wonders was more than the trout and drakes in that northern county. My youngest son had brought his oldest son, my oldest grandson, to camp Thursday evening for a weekend stay. It was my grandson’s first visit to camp, and on a sunny Friday afternoon we went for a ride while his dad worked on some camp repairs.
We first went to Leonard Harrison State Park and walked to the overview of Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. Nathan was amazed at the spread and depth of the Canyon, and how small the Pine looked as it snakes its course through the bottomland.
We were above both turkey and black vultures, watching them rise and drop on outstretched wings, riding warm air currents while searching for food — my grandson in awe at their ability to glide without effort.
We then drove toward places I hunt, passing huge farm fields of grass and plowed dirt en route to a mountain where I’ve taken many deer and turkeys. Along the way we spotted six different does with fawns, a couple of bucks sprouting short velvet antlers, two long beards walking the edge of one of the plowed fields, and lastly what Nathan wanted to see the most — a pair of bald eagles, also circling with the aid of rising air currents.
These animals were all seen in broad daylight through midday hours, and only the absence of sighting a black bear remained on the child’s to-see list. Toward evening that same day, when traveling with his dad he was treated to another sighting he never expected, a big coyote moving through a plowed field that sits close to camp.
For this boy, seeing some of things nature offers up close and real, I would hope has positioned in his mind a desire to explore further into the world of wild things, and marvel at their perfection, never forgetting the shear beauty.
Such a wonderful world to see, away from the inside of homes and buildings is there for the watching for all of us. We only have to take the time to perceive, and then surely be in awe.