2021 has been a blur. My fishing year began on January 9th, on the Little Juniata River. A cold day on a new reach of the river I hadn’t fished before. My first fish was a beautiful large brown trout pulled from a trough of dark green water. January 15th I was out on the Gunpowder River and then on the 16th I was at Codorus Creek and the Little Falls. On January 24th I went to Tulpehocken Creek, forgot my gear bag to start the day and then ended the day by falling in, filling my waders, and having ice form in my beard. I can laugh about it now. In February I spent time at the Yellow Breeches and explored smaller streams in Pennsylvania. The end of February brought time on the Gunpowder River, Valley Creek, and fishing some of the early stocking season on the Patapsco River.
In early March I explored Big Hunting Creek and Morgan Run. Later in the month, I was in New Jersey along the South Branch of the Raritan River and Muddy Creek in southern Pennsylvania. April brought an early, cold Easter and a frozen toe while camping in Western Maryland. With my friends at Trout Unlimited, we stocked a tributary to Gwynn’s Falls to encourage youth to fish for trout in Baltimore City. I went back to Muddy Creek and the Yellow Breeches later that month. Big Spring Creek called in late April as the red buds were blooming, and the green of spring awoke for the year. The end of April provided the chance for another trip to both the South Branch and of the Raritan River and Valley Creek.
May brought the onset of Cicada mania. I waited in anticipation for the Super Bowl of fishing and was excited to see the emergence of each bumbling fly and awaiting the response of gluttonous fish. In late May, my kids and I helped Trout Unlimited to install temperature gages in the Upper Gunpowder Watershed to provide conservation and restoration prioritization guidance. Green Drakes led me to Penns Creek around Labor Day, and I had a great time with fishing and campfires. A great guided day with Dominick Swentosky helped me learn and grow more as an angler.
The beginning of June I spent my time fishing the Yellow Breeches and the Gunpowder River. I caught the leading edge of the Cicadas in June and ended the month enjoying time at the beach and then rushing my son to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy at the start of July. I missed the height of the Cicada hatch but had enough excitement with my son’s surgery. After he was home from the hospital, work took me to north central Pennsylvania. On my way back from visiting a site, I stopped at Pine Creek in Waterville, PA. The highlight of my drive was seeing three young black bears playing in a meadow. Temperatures heated up to over 100 degrees and fish were stressed in Maryland this summer, so my wife and I headed north for a long weekend. For our anniversary and my birthday, my wife and I went to the Catskills and had an amazing time. I was lucky enough to visit Dette Flies and catch an 18” brown on the Willowemoc. We stayed at a charming, restored Inn and we were able to recharge and relax.
The whole gang loaded up in the SUV and headed to Maine the last week of July, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my in-laws. Challenging hikes, beautiful sunsets, delicious food, great company, and some fishing made for a fantastic week in Maine. August brought a slight reprieve from the steamy temperatures, and I was able to get back on the Gunpowder. I had a great couple outings using the dry dropper.
September brought the return to in-person school for our kids and schedules got busy quickly. Lots of soccer games, dance practices, and band performances to attend and enjoy. I was able to fish the Gunpowder River on several different morning or afternoon sessions. Fishing in Indiana was a new adventure, and although I got skunked, it was fun to explore the waters of a new state and go to Notre Dame. Go Irish!.
Early October introduced a new challenge and community for me as I joined the Akimbo Writing-in-Community Group. Since then, I have been a writing machine and have connected with some super creative and incredibly supportive friends. Fall stocking occurred in October and I was able to have a few quick afternoons of fishing for stocked browns in some local streams. I tried to fish for smallmouth at the Susquehanna River and it was blown out but was able to spend a few hours at the Yellow Breeches that afternoon. Bald Eagles seemed to follow me in the last half of October, flying overhead at both the Breeches and the Gunpowder for multiple outings. Casting my shadow across spooky fish reminded me that my actions on the stream and my behaviors with other anglers can impact more than is immediately apparent.
November there was more time at the Yellow Breeches and the Gunpowder River. I lost a fishing storyteller and friend. Thinking of Skip while I’m fishing will give me more chances to appreciate how lucky and blessed I am. For December, fishing opportunities have been much more limited with family events, work deadlines, and weather conditions. I fished twice in December, spending more time on Gunpowder and on the Jones Falls, thinking of my old friend Jim Gracie.
This year I’ve continued writing my blog each Sunday and will have published another 52 posts by the end of the year. I’ve been able to get out on the river, at least for an hour, 85 days in 2021. Most of the time I fished alone but was lucky to share the water with my son, Mark, Brian, and Kevin at different points over the year. I cherish my time spent with them. While I’m tying flies my wife can walk by me and know if it’s a nymph, dry fly or streamer. That makes me happy. I’ve tied hundreds of flies and written 38 chapters of my book. I had set a goal to finish a draft of a novel by the end of 2021 and I will be close! I’ve learned from great folks like Dominick Swentosky, Scott Major, and Stephen Wright. I am fortunate to have interacted with each of them. In each moment, life can feel overly busy or super frustrating, but looking back at my river year in 2021 has helped me appreciate all I’ve accomplished, learned, and lost in 2021. I’m looking forward to 2022 and all it brings.
Please reach out to me if there are things you are looking forward to in 2022 and let me know if you’d like to see me write about any specific topics. I appreciate all your comments, thoughtfulness, and continued support!