Five of us just returned yesterday from our 23rd annual trout season opening day visit to Camp F-Troop. Fly-fishers Gary and Brett Peterson, and bait-slingers Todd Puleo, Brad Isles and I enjoyed a sunny, warm, rejuvenating weekend up in the mountains.
Long ago we gave up the habit of wrestling the crowds around the big pools under stocked trout stream bridges on opening day for the carefree and liberating practice of wandering fisherman-free wild trout streams deep in the forest.
We slept in until 9:00 o’clock and then sat around for an hour and a half munching bagels, sipping hot coffee, and sharing laughs, stories, and fishermen’s lies. Sometime after 10:30, we crammed our backpack coolers with lunches and cold beverages, grabbed our fishing gear, and headed out in two vehicles.
Leaving Brett’s Subaru down by the bridge where Redtail Run pours into the Allegheny, we piled into Todd’s SUV and drove to the top of the mountain. From there we hiked in on an old Game Commission fire trail past the twisting grapevines, dense mountain laurel thickets, and cool white pine and hemlock groves that constitute good-looking habitat for ruffed grouse and wild turkeys and then clambered down the steep slope into the hollow where the south branch of Redtail flows west to east two miles upstream from the river.
Todd caught the first fish, a fine and colorful wild native brook trout beauty, and I caught the second, a smaller replica of the first. We didn’t catch many, though, because the water temperatures under 50 degrees made the fish sluggish and the feeding slow.
But we didn’t care. We hiked and fished and hiked and fished downstream, temporarily careless of the world, with sunshine streaming through the boughs above our heads, down to the confluence of the north and south branches, where two small waterfalls drop into the deep green pool that marks the beginning of Redtail Run proper. A sandy beach there leads up to a rocky shoreline under the dark shading hemlocks, and a huge fallen log lies parallel to the stream. We settled onto the log, opened our packs, and shared lunch and leisure deep in the calm and healing forest. Lunch locations and life destinations don’t get much better than that.
Good luck out there. And have a great week outdoors.
~ Don Feigert, 4-20-09