River Valley Outdoors
Stepping into the waist-deep, swirling stream was like stepping into another time zone.
The deep green foliage surrounded the little stream with cooling shade, like hundreds of leafy arms, protecting the trout-filled waters from the hot sun. I needed a refreshing dip to replenish my body and mind.
I had worked in the yard that morning and well into the afternoon. I couldn’t have been more tired and overheated from the hot sun – but I grabbed my fishing gear and forged ahead. I knew once I waded into the chilly stream and started catching fish, I’d forget all about being hot and tired.
As I rounded one big bend in the stream, I noticed several fish rising. A late afternoon caddis hatch had the trout in a feeding frenzy – just the kind of conditions this mediocre angler can appreciate. I tied on an elk hair imitation and skittered the little bug right into the feeding trout. In a matter of minutes I caught and released three small brown trout, probably fish that had been just released from the hatchery truck.
I enjoy fly fishing this region’s numerous small brooks and streams, in search of trout and salmon. I take it one step further when the weather turns muggy and hot – I skip the waders, preferring to wear shorts and wading boots instead.
Walking through the little tributaries, minus waders, offers an angler a much cooler experience. In this region feeder streams flow from deep mountainous aquifers, filling the brooks with the coolest and most refreshing water imaginable. But wader-less anglers aren’t the only ones enjoying the cooling effect of mountainous runoff.
Throughout the summer my wife and I take the grandkids swimming to various locations around this region. The swimming adventures usually involve a little hiking, jumping the outing up a notch as far as the children are concerned.
One of our favorites swimming hikes, Step Falls, starts at the parking area off Route 26 where Wight Brook crosses the pavement. From there the trail heads uphill and parallels the stream, offering several gorgeously cascading falls that fill as many deep pools. At certain points the smooth rocks provide a jumping platform for willing divers.
Last summer, at one such platform, I watched my sunglasses fly out of my hand and fall into the water as it screamed over the rock ledge and into a pool a good 20 feet below. Cody, our eldest grandson, kindly offered to dive to the bottom of the pool to recover my sunglasses.
Flipping his swimming goggles over his eyes, 15-year-old Cody repeatedly dove to the bottom of the pool. After numerous unsuccessful dives he returned to the shore with good news and some bad news. He couldn’t find the sunglasses, but he had the biggest smile on his face.
“Sorry I can’t find your sunglasses,” said the excited young lad, “but you should see the big brook trout down there! Can we fish here sometime? How did they get this far up the stream? Do they stock this stream?”
Several trout had climbed the watery course up the rocky ledge to find refuge in the pools formed by the mountainous stream. The trout probably found the cooling waters as refreshing as we did, and decided to stick with a good thing.
Any way you look at it, swimming or wet wading in cool River Valley water happens to be one of the best ways to quench the sizzling heat of a humid summer day. I think I’ll combine the two activities the next time I’m out and find the fishing slow – do like the grandkids and jump right in with both feet.