Thursday, May 2, 2013

Just Cleaning Up Around Here

After fishing western Maryland a couple of weeks earlier, I thought what better way to give back to a resource than to participate in a stream clean-up on the main branch. It's also a good (justified) excuse to go fishing again.

This trip would also be the first outing of the year for my son, Ross. He always looks for opportunities to get out on the water - even if there is a little bit of work to be done first. He also doesn't mind the 4:30 AM wake up call because he can sleep for the almost 3-hour car ride.

We met a couple of friends in Morgantown, then it was on to the river for the clean-up.

The Youghiogheny chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsors this clean-up every year. The turnout was low, but so was the trash - of course I'm comparing this to the Elkhorn clean-up.

After walking a few miles of road and maybe collecting a bag of trash (that's a good thing), Ross commented that, "compared to the Elkhorn clean-up, this is more like a scavenger hunt than a stream clean-up".

We had a nice lunch, provided by the hosting TU chapter, but I could tell Ross was getting anxious to hit the water. While our friends decided on a nearby delayed harvest stream, Ross and I decided to hit a new brookie stream.

We only took one rod in - I wanted Ross to do most of the catching!

I was wet wading and I could tell by the water temperature that they were still feeling the effects of the heavy snow two weeks earlier. I guess what I'm saying is the fish weren't cooperating for Ross.

I started him out on a dry fly, then switched him over to a small green woolybugger - both with no luck. I let him fish the first few runs by himself, then I grabbed the rod to give a nice pool a second go at it. I knew he wanted to get his hands on some fish!

Sure enough, we landed our first brookie of the day, and I let Ross release him.

We continued this operation as we worked our way upstream. I would let Ross work the pool over pretty good, then I would grab the rod and give it a try.

It worked out several times as we landed several nice brookies. Ross seemed alright with this - he enjoys handling the fish and releasing them.
We fished as late as we could, keeping in mind it was a Sunday, we had a 3+ hour ride home, and Ross had school the next day. 
He was very patient but I could tell he was disappointed he hadn't landed any by himself when I told him we had to start the hike out. I did tell him we would hit a few more pools on the way out and we did.
The first nice run I spotted, we stopped to check it out. I spotted a nice brookie feeding actively in the tailout and while I found him, Ross spotted another one on up in the pool - and he didn't have the benefit of polarized sunglasses. I was impressed!
I put on a dry/dropper rig and let him try for the first fish in the tailout. The fly line got caught on some woody debris and put the fish down, so he moved on up the run.
His first drift through the run and he hooked his first brookie of the day/year! With the excitement of Ross landing his first brookie of the year, I didn't get any photos.
This was also Ross' first Maryland brookie - to go along with West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. He's only a few states behind me but I have a few years on him.
I look forward to returning to this clean-up next year and Ross made a recommendation for next year. He wanted to know if we could clean up along this stream, which is maintained behind locked gates at both ends. The TU chapter is looking into it!
So, with this clean-up on Sunday, I also had the annual Elkhorn clean-up the following Saturday. I was tired of driving (which doesn't happen often) but I owed it to my mentor and friend who recently passed and was the coordinator of this event.
I was on the road at 4:30 AM again but this time I didn't even pack a rod. We knocked out the clean-up in no time. I heard comments that things are starting to look up in the area - but it's all relative. In the same amount of time we filled maybe a truck bed full of trash on the Savage we filled up 2-3 roll-off dumpsters on the Elkhorn. We also had many more volunteers on Elkhorn - a true reflection on a great man. Ernie Nester will be missed!

 I had a nice lunch, chatted fishing and fishing trips with some good friends, then it was on the road for the 4-hour ride home.

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