In the last week, Maryland Department of Natural Resources completed fall trout stocking in Garrett and Allegany Counties, notably along the Youghiogheny River and Bear Creek. Just today 500 rainbow trout were stocked into the Casselman. Fall fishing can be less predictable than the spring with lower flows and fish that have had all summer to get smart to a line, but the additional solitude this time of year makes it a real treat for the serious angler.
The following essay was printed in TROUT, Trout Unlimited‘s quarterly magazine. We are proud to be a TU endorsed business, and loved reading this simple walk down an unnamed stream not far from here in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. Chuck Sams wrote it in response to a TU contest for its 10 Special Places that are endangered. Three of those ten are in our area; one is quite literally in our backyard. The Savage River Watershed is on this list because it is under threat by natural gas extraction, with Maryland’s temporary ban on fracking due to expire in October 2017.
Learn about our fishing packages and call us to book your escape to the river, always a very special place.
I get a whiff of honeysuckle and it mixes with the sweet smell of the river. He was having a good day when he made this place.
“Tributary Youghiogheny” by Chuck Sams
TROUT magazine, Summer 2016
The water bubbles out from the limestone shale between two trees and falls away down the mountain, a true spring creek. In the summer, when it’s hot, you can ride to the top of the mountain and drink the cool, clear water right at its source. The water’s cold when it comes out of the ground and the shade of the thick hardwoods help keep it that way, all the way down the mountain. I imagine there are some brookies up this high but the water is narrow and too tight for the fly rod. It doesn’t matter. It will get wide enough at some point. I can tell this place, these Laurel Mountains, are trouty.
You can see it in the layers of the yellow limestone. There is a constant dampness, like a creek or river is always waiting to bust out and flow downhill toward the Youghiogheny River. And indeed there is at least a small trickle in every hollow. If you get enough of them together at the bottom of the mountain you’ve got a river.
You can’t see the stream from the road or the driveway even though it’s right in front of the house. It takes being halfway up the mountain and on the way down to notice it. It makes a hairpin bend and flows through a giant culvert to the other side of the road. It’s still tight but more than fishable even with its tree-lined banks. I smile a fisherman’s smirk knowing that there is a river in the front yard and my fly rod is but a skip away.
I walk the edges, flipping over pieces of limestone that were probably there when George Washington rode in and put down the Whiskey Rebellion. The nymphs are there, and where there is food and cold water there are bound to be trout. I study the bushes and the tops of the trees but there’s no hatch here. It’s getting too hot too quick this time of year and a beaded pheasant tail will have to do.
Cover is sparse. The grade rushes the water past and scours the bottom leaving only rocky hides for the fish. There are deeper holes, color lines, current seams, bubble lines, and boulders to fish. I try my best but today the luck is on their side and the trout gods have ignored my plight.
I can see the mountain rising straight up behind the house as I crest the bank. Downstream, the hills and mountains keep rolling away. I get a whiff of honeysuckle and it mixes with the sweet smell of the river. He was having a good day when he made this place.
I catch a taunting, splashy rise out of the corner of my eye and smile. They have eluded me today but I’ll be back to this place with its old mountains and cold creeks, this place that was made for trout and those who pursue them.
Chuck Sams was the winner of Trout Unlimited’s 10 Special Places essay contest. He is a writer and an engineer living within a day’s ride of all the great Michigan rivers. Sams attends trout camp in the spring, fishes anywhere all summer, attends salmon camp in the fall and hits the ice in the winter.