Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Spring preview, without the rod

I think it may have been a Norman Rockwell painting. The little
kid is standing with his nose and hands pressed against the glass,
staring at the counter with its gumballs, taffy sticks and
chocolate confections.

That was me last weekend.

While the chocolate would, indeed, lead me to stare longingly into
the windows, it wasn’t sugar I was craving. Valley Creek. That’s
what I wanted.

I stood on the bank as the temperature touched 60 – the first time
I’d felt that warm in almost six months. My trip “down south” this
year was a short weekend to Valley Forge, visiting family and
catching up on a lot of things. It was a simple trip to walk the
dog that led me to the creek, and the realization that I had at
least two months to wait before the West Branch of the Ausable
River would look as good.

It didn’t matter that the creek, ravaged by PCBs, has a consumption
advisory for the trout it holds. As with many fly-fishers, I don’t
land the fish to take it home. In an odd twist of fate, the no-kill
designation has allowed the population of wild browns to flourish,
and a half-dozen anglers were enjoying their company as we wandered

A little research after the fact showed that hatches won’t start
until April on Valley Creek, but nymphs may have roused a few fish.
Given that’s what I fish with 90 percent of the time, it would have
been a perfect day on the stream. Pheasant tails are particularly
effective here; just like those I had been tying three days earlier
while holed up in the basement as the sub-zero winds whipped the
snow upside down.

But there I was – no waders, no rod, no reel, no pheasant tails, no
Pa. fishing license. And absolutely no chance of getting any of
that before the day, or the weekend, was over. I was consoled by
the fact that the water was still high from the recent rains, until
one of the fishermen connected.

Now, back home in the Adirondacks, if I close my eyes, I can still
feel the warmth of 60 degrees, especially after shoveling 3 feet of
snow that still sits stubbornly in the driveway. My day will come –
eventually. Until then, chocolate will just have to do.


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