A sudden vibration and loud thumping of my tire over the rumble strip shook me out of my daydreaming stare and brought my focus back to the road. The rising sun illuminated the rolling farm fields and pastures with red and orange light, setting the ideal backdrop for Thanksgiving weekend. Leaves had fallen from almost all the trees, with only muted green evergreens and brilliant yellows of birch trees matching the color of the sunrise. Driving to a remote fishing spot through the Ridge and Valley of Pennsylvania following the Susquehanna River is nearly as rewarding as the time on the water.
The transition from highway to county road to country lane telescoped my perspective from landscape to town to hunting camp. Passing each camp, hunters gathered around fires and pulled duffle bags from pickup trucks. They looked up at the passing SUV with barely a glance, excited to greet their buddies and prepare for the opening of rifle season. I’ve never been hunting, but seeing each camp made me long for the camaraderie.
As the paved road gave way to gravel, the anticipation of fishing took over my distracted brain. For a few hours, I’d be fishing a new spot on one of my favorite rivers in my favorite kind of weather. With my first step out of the truck, the cold mist of my breath cooled my face. No one else was there, I’d have the river to myself, at least for a bit. I took a deep breath and turned to face the river.
A bright blue sky with fast moving clouds replaced the colorful sunrise but was equally beautiful. Firmly pushing each section of the rod into the other and feeding the leader through the guides gave me time to plan out how to approach the stream. Three days prior a storm spiked flows across the region, but streamflow had dropped to a manageable level with a chalky, slightly turbid coloration. Perfect looking water.
I tried to recall all my lessons of fishing on this river. Reading seams and following flow paths would be my challenge for the day on the larger river. Looking for buckets and other smaller areas of increased depth within a wide riffle helped me hook into a gem of a brook trout. Wading in the river required muscles I hadn’t used in a few months, and I felt clumsy with my movements. Using a wading staff kept me upright in unsteady moments and helped me avoid any falls.
Seemingly on cue, gusts of wind interrupted my casts, coinciding with times where I needed to slow down and reset. Looking up from the stream to appreciate the beauty of the stream and riparian forest reminded me to be grateful for the blessings in my life. Methodologically working upstream, I was able to catch a few more trout, but never quite found a rhythm or figured out where the fish were feeding. Thankfully I already figured out I have much to appreciate in my life and in my times on the water. Happy Thanksgiving!