Good fishing was the theme of our seventh Fireside Philosophers event, which brings several outdoor writers together every year for a weekend of Warren County adventures. On Friday Gregg Rinkus and I traveled into the Allegheny National Forest to a tiny wild trout stream in the Tionesta Creek watershed. This was the stream of Gregg’s youth, the special place where he’d caught his first native brook trout as a teenager. And now, 35 years later, he had finally returned and brought me along for my first visit there ever. A grand little stream it turned out to be, with fresh cool waters flowing in a curving path downstream under the sheltering hemlocks, creating riffles, pools and cutbanks at every turn. Gregg and I caught dozens of colorful wild brook trout beauties, including three in the eight- to nine-inch range.
That evening Ben Moyer and Brad Isles arrived, and the next day we launched a 10-mile fishing trip down the Allegheny River. I caught and accidentally released the first big smallmouth bass of the day, and then, one mile downstream, Gregg and Ben found a hotspot. They caught and kept four good-sized smallies, which fit into our shore lunch plans. Late in the afternoon we paddled in at Thompson Island, and Ben skillfully prepared a meal of fresh-cooked smallmouth, a fish we normally routinely release. But Ben’s expertise with frying pan, oil and cornmeal yielded a delicious meal, and we vowed to do this catch-and-eat thing again someday. Later the four of us paddled downstream as evening closed in, and Brad and I stopped at Muddy Point, where we had camped overnight once earlier in the summer. He caught the best fish of the day there, a 16-inch smallmouth, which he quickly put back into the swift-running currents. It was a fine day on the river, one that we relived with our campfire stories later that night.
Good luck out there. And have a great week outdoors.
~ Don Feigert, 8-26-08