Sometimes as anglers we get so intense about our fishing that we fail to see everything going on around us while on the stream. I used to be guilty of this very thing. I was fixated on the water all day. Reading streams and runs, watching my line, staring at the indicator, and so intense about catching the next fish that much eluded my attention. Recently, this habit of not being aware of my surroundings has passed, and seems to be a thing of the past, at least I hope. Now, I look around a lot more. I take in the sights. Maybe stop casting for awhile just to listen to the sounds or smell the scents in the air. I must tell you my angling experience has not diminished with these new practices, but gotten much, much better.
As I write about this, a day from this Spring comes to mind. It happened in early May at the bottom of Long Stretch. The day was warm and sunny, and the songbirds were very active in their annual mating and nesting activities. My angler for the day and I were commenting back and forth about the bird songs, and I was able to point out a few male Baltimore Orioles that were battling over a female that seemed all to pleased with the attention. We viewed many species of warblers including yellow and yellow rumps flitting through the brush, and we both chuckled as a female Grey Catbird told us in no uncertain terms, we were too close to her nest.
The highlight of the day and maybe my entire spring season happened later that afternoon. A male and female Scarlet Tanager were displaying for one another not 10 feet away from where we fished in the lowest pool on Long Stretch. The Scarlet Tanager is one of, if not the most striking songbirds we have here in PA. This bird has a scarlet red body and head, with jet black wings that cut an amazingly sharp contrasting line down its side.
To be that close to one and to watch its natural mating actions was amazing. Neither of us moved a muscle or spoke a word for fear we would spook them and end this intimate experience. After a few minutes they both flew back towards the mountain and my angling friend turned and looked at me with as big a grin as I have ever seen on a fisherman. Notice in this report he wasn’t hoisting a trophy from the net, nor was he feeling the pull of a huge brown. We simply stopped and looked around to see what was out there. Just so happens we got a truly remarkable sight that is burned into my memory forever. Fly fishing is a wonderful excuse to experience the natural world. Don’t miss the whole experience!