Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!

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As the month of June meanders toward summer, catbirds complain from the bushes around our home while wrens chatter from their perches. Listening carefully, I may hear the sweet song of a bluebird calling to its mate.

Each evening, a doe slips down to our pond. Her newly born fawn follows a few steps behind her. Chipmunks scamper over stonewalls and across garden paths. Cottontails munch on clover and plantain. There are weeds to be plucked and a lawn to be mowed, but beckoning from within its aluminum tube is the fly rod, a six-foot, three-inch Sweetwater model crafted by George Maurer, the Pennsylvania rod maker who died much too young.

Shade cast by the forest cools the upper stretch of Bonnie Brook. Humidity drips from the leaves of hardwoods. It percolates on the shoulders of moss-covered boulders and off of lichen growing upon the trunks of the hemlocks that are slowly dying as a result of an aphid-like insect called the Woolly Adelgid.

By the middle of the month, pink-and-white blossoms of mountain laurel brighten the hillsides. Their showy flowers will be followed by rhododendrons, those most patriotic of our wild bushes that wait until the first week of July to burst forth with color, our eastern forest’s version of fireworks.

Downstream, sunlight dapples the brook’s surface. The flowers of April and May have given way to varying shades of green while the sweet scent of barberry and honeysuckle has been replaced by the heady perfume of wild rose that sweeps across the current upon the slightest breeze. Brambles alongside the stream have thickened. Grasses in the meadow rise to my hips. Ticks are a bother. Snakes are something to consider.

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A freestone stream, Bonnie Brook depends upon rain to sustain its population of wild trout. Without it, the riffles and runs of early spring dwindle to a trickle. Becoming moody, the fish are unwilling to leave those hidden places where they spend their afternoons thinking dark thoughts.

For this reason, the sustained drought and unusually high temperatures that gripped our region over the last few years had caused me to search out other streams to fish as early as the end of May. But not this year. Beginning in May, extreme rain events continued throughout June. What my father in law once called gully washers flooded rivers keeping them unnaturally high. As a result, I’ve heard more than one angler complain that this season has been a washout.

Although the rain has discolored the larger rivers and streams, I’ve found Bonnie Brook running clear and cool a day or two after each storm has passed through our valley. It is for this reason, that on this last week of the month, I grab the tube containing the little cane rod and head to the brook in the hopes of finding a trout, or maybe two, willing to come out and play.

Tramping down to the stream, I slip down the bank behind one of my favorite runs. This section of the brook is no more than six feet wide. A chaotic tangle of barberries, wild rose, and brambles have filled in the bank to my right. Their branches threaten to grab my line should I be so foolish as to make a back cast in their direction. I must also remember to avoid the boughs of a massive spruce tree that has fallen across the brook a foot or so behind where I am crouched.

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Ten or twelve feet above me, the current sweeps around a bend where it joins with a lesser braid that broke off from the main branch a few hundred yards upstream. The two branches form a shallow riffle that is separated by a large boulder about eighteen inches from the left bank. The pool below the boulder is perhaps three, maybe four feet deep.

A few inches below the boulder, the branch of an unruly raspberry bush droops down from the left bank. Around the boulder’s other side, the current falls unobstructed, but it is the narrow braid that looks “fishy.”

Although I’ve taken smaller brook trout at the bottom of the riffle to the right of the boulder, earlier this season, I fooled a nine-inch brown below the braid.

I’m sweating, and dunk my neckerchief into the water. Removing my wide-brimmed hat, I squeeze the cotton cloth over my head. The temperature of the  water is shockingly cold. After placing the hat back on my head, I knot the damp cloth around my neck.

It takes a few minutes to tie a pheasant-tail dry fly, one with a parachute wing, to my tippet. Avoiding the brambles and spruce tree, I manage an upstream cast.

The fly bounces off the side of the boulder, and for a moment it appears that the raspberry’s branch has grabbed it, but when I twitch the tip of the little rod, the pheasant tail floats free. As it reaches the deeper water, there is a sudden splash and flash of gold. It’s going to be a good day.

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6 Responses to “Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!”

  1. rivertoprambles Says:

    The rains have caused some issues in our region this season but they have allowed us to enjoy extended time in our headwaters streams. I hope they allow you enjoy the use of that fine little Maurer rod for many more days this summer & fall.

  2. Ronald Lasko Says:

    Very nice essay Bob! Keep up the good work. Our trout pond (Subael Pond) is 4 feet above normal here on Cape Cod and it finished last year 3 feet above normal. So we too have lots of water. Happy fishing, Ron & Donna Lasko

  3. pbergamo123 Says:

    I fished the brook inApril and May and it was great! Glad to hear June had good flows.

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