Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Town Fish

Neshannock Creek cuts through the southern edge of the cross-roads village of Volant, Pennsylvania. The village is home to several quaint shops that are common in communities in Amish Country. Looking for a piece of nature art for the family room or a tea kettle for the kitchen or an antique plate for the dining room? Volant has a shop for you.

More importantly, the creek is home to a put-and-take fishery of browns and rainbows. There’s some hold-over fish. In the summer the creek warms up considerably and the smartest trout find a few deep springs that provide shelter from the swelter. Early in the season, Neshannock has some nice hatches and can offer an enjoyable break from chasing steelhead.

The river tumbles over a small dam before flowing through a small park and past the obligatory Orvis shop. This in-town stretch is very popular with weekend anglers and even though I prefer fishing in solitude, I often fish it to get a feel for what is going on in the river. On this day the river was running a little high, but clearing fast. The sun was dropping over the Pennsylvania hills and the crowd was starting to thin out as I munched on a Subway sandwich and watched the river flow through the park. I was in no hurry to start fishing. There’d be plenty of time before dark to pick up a few fish.

A boy about 12 swung his fly rod back and forth as if it were a sword. He tried flip the strike indicator upstream and have it drift back down toward him. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time the giant orange ball fell near his body, line piled up on top of it. I thought of our son, who was soon to turn 21. He had stopped fishing at about 12. I wasn’t a good teacher of the sport. And he had fallen in love with a sport that gave him adrenaline, not peace. He was at peace with his life, and the adrenaline gave him energy and a boost of self-esteem. I tend to let life frustrate me, and fishing reminds me to ease up and relax. I think my son has it more right than I do, but I’ll still take fishing over paintball.

Downstream an angler drifting nymphs under a strike indicator picked up a fish every fifteen minutes or so, but in general the fishing was slow.

By the time I got rigged up to fish several people had left and there were only a handful of us sharing the quarter mile stretch from the dam to the bridge that carried the state highway that bisected the village. I drifted a walt’s worm through a few of my favorite runs, picking up a few small brown trout and one large carp, which broke me off. I decided to fish the fast water up by the dam -- a place I hadn’t fished in several years. I was pleasantly surprised to pick up a few bigger browns, one rainbow and a bunch of large sunfish hanging out in a big eddy in the middle of the river.

I waited for dusk to settle in -- hoping for a hatch of some kind. None materialized. A few fish slapped the surface, but nothing regular. Content to have caught a few town fish, I headed back to the hotel.

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