The Headwaters

The Headwaters

It was a warm day for February and the sun angled through the hemlocks as we fished our way through the forest. The creek was at a perfect level and even with snow melt affecting the water temps the fish were still grabby and aggressive for the time of year.

We managed a few strikes in all the likely spots and even got a few in the subtle depressions and pockets that sometimes don’t yield much of anything. It was one of my first guide days of this season and it was good to share that winter day and the nice break in the weather with a great club member. The woods were blanketed in snow and the sun was slowly causing snow melt to drip and drop from the hemlock branches. At some point during the day I was watching water melt and drop off a branch, making subtle dimples in a puddle along the creek bank.

Why this attracted my attention I don’t know, but I do remember the thoughts that followed. I pictured those small drops collecting and soaking through the ground into a vast underground aquifer like a mysterious subterranean lake that almost goes beyond imagination. Then I imagined that lake pushing to the surface and emerging and flowing from a wide gulf in the Pennsylvania hills. It flowed down a meadow and into a forest of hemlock and oak. The flow went around our legs cold and icy and out of view around a tight bend. The drops now road the wave downstream and gained momentum and velocity from flows and creeks gathered. The flow swung sharply east and then west again as it entered the Seven Mountains.

My mind then went to my home waters on lower Penns Creek where I was first enamored by this whole fly fishing thing. The place that gave a younger me all the adventure he could handle and taught me lessons not only in fishing but also about the workings of the whole natural world.  This wild imaginary water ride happened in but a few seconds and ended sharply by a quick hookset and eruption of thrashing fish as my angling friend set the hook into yet another solid fish.

We netted and released the trout back into the creek. We exchanged the customary fist bump and waded ahead upstream to the headwaters, which is nothing more than a beautiful collection of drops from the branches of age old hemlocks.