It’s an annual gathering we call the “Summit,” a place where friends of somewhat-like minds gather each May.
When I say “like minds” it means we all like to fly fish, and we mostly agree on what hatch (fly) is coming off the water.
We discuss just about everything imaginable, including politics and religion. These subjects lead to long discussions, with only the occasional concession toward agreement. I’m sure if you have ever hunted, fished or traveled to see wildlife, you recognize the most often used phrase, “you should have been here yesterday.” Meaning, there was a lot of activity before you arrived.
The camp, or Mountain Home as Karl Power calls it, is nicely nestled in the Kettle Creek Valley in northcentral Pennsylvania. Almost within casting distance is the rather famous Kettle Creek, a stream we never forsake for another.
Before I leave, Karen tells me the weather forecasters are calling for rain. I shrug my shoulders, smile and respond, “I guess if the fish are already wet, they won’t mind.”
The gathering shrinks and grows with the passage of years, and at times there are six different conversations going on at one time. If you tire of one, you simply move to another. After a while, I retreat to the deck out back to take a deep breath of fresh air, and to listen to the soothing sounds of the stream flowing by.
When I do re-enter the camp, I find I didn’t miss much; the conversations are a lot like those soap operas that run into the next day.
In the main cast this year were Jay Jackson, who traveled from the state of Washington to join us; Bob Ballantyne, from the Reading area; Karl Power and myself. Some drop-in guests included Pete Ryan, Ray Jobe, Kevin James and Ryan Rachiele. Ryan was a young man raring to fish. However, he found that most of the other camp guests seemed to spend more time talking than doing.
Karl keeps a guest book, and Ryan wrote, “I got a good taste of what it is like to grow older.” It was the best entry I’ve seen in years. I’m sure he was tired of hearing about all the aches and pains many of the guests have endured, and probably those “days gone by” stories as well.
I couldn’t have agreed more with his entry. I too noted that we sat around more than we fished, and that most had purchased wading staffs, to secure their footing over and around the slippery rocks that littered the stream bottom.
Whenever anyone went fishing, I followed with camera in hand. After a day and a half of a few chipmunk and bird photos, and missed opportunities at a bald eagle and osprey, but not a single fish, I headed upstream. I told those present that if I was going to take a photo of a trout, I would have to catch one myself, and I did.
I had taken a photo of another angler catching one, and I was pleased that at least I had a few photos for my efforts. As luck would have it, Karl, Bob and Jay had all caught fish, after I left.
Okay, back to plan A. I followed the crew the next day, waiting for them to take a fish. Again, that didn’t work. Granted, the nights were cold, and the hatches of mayflies and caddis were extremely sparse.
I donned my waders, put together my fly rod, and kept the same loop wing March Brown on which I had taken the brown trout the night before. I didn’t fish long before I took three nice rainbows. Landing and photographing fish without harming them is tough, but I was able to capture some nice shots.
Below the camp is a nice long pool that had always been good in the past. I waded carefully across the stream, knowing that the main complaint about was that it was heavily fished.
I sat on the bank and looked downstream, much to my surprise no one was there. I waited for a fish to sip one of the flies floating on the surface film, and found no fish rising. I stood up, tucked my camera into the top of my waders, and started casting, covering as much water as possible. By dumb luck, I was able to take five fish before Karl arrived.
With Karl on the scene, I thought for certain I would be able to take a photo of him catching a fish. Walking up to him, I again sat on the bank, listening as he explained how he had caught a number of small brook trout. “It was crazy,” he explained, “I simply put the fly as close to my feet as possible, and they took it!” He proceeded to show me, and was into a small brookie on his first cast.
He missed a few fish, and took nothing for my much wanted “action” shot. As the cook—and he is a good one—he decided to head back to camp. Of course, he fished his way back, and caught a few trout. I took one while he was still there, a nice brown, and on my way back landed three nice brook trout.
I was able to catch all three species, browns, rainbows and brookies, and I’m sure Karl and Jay did the same. One evening after dinner, I glanced out the back window while waiting for my coffee to heat in the microwave. It was nearly dark, but I made out something black moving on the other side of the stream.
I was amazed to see that it was a sow, a female black bear. I rushed out the door, and saw her with her three yearlings. It was too dark for a photo, but the memory will be everlasting.
It was an exciting trip, and I was thrilled to see another bald eagle on my journey back home. Maybe I should have been there yesterday, but those days were great, and the Summit is something that will live on in both my memory bank, and in photos.