Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"A river without friends is doomed to oblivion."

Lee Wulff was quoted as saying that........

I understand that anywhere you go or anything you do, especially on the intertubes, you may find some detractors and those who may dislike your methods, etc., etc., etc.  The “spot burn” issue has taken root in many of the various fishing forums most everyplace you turn, but it seems more intense when you get to more populous areas like New Jersey, New York, & Pennsylvania.  There may be those who find my wee posts on the Loyalsock Creek (and certain tribs) fine and there may those who get bent that I even dare mentioned the stream at all. 
You can't please everyone, but someone suggested that I have been "spot burning" the Loyalsock Creek in my posts on it.  If you think talking about a section of river from Lycoming County to well above World’s End State Park, which covers a 30+ mile swath, is a spot "burn", then I will always guilty of it.  There is a line between sharing some very general information of a notably stocked stream and spoon feeding spots via GPS coordinates or on a Google Maps site and broadcasting it out there to everyone.  Plus, I’m sure there are quite a few websites out there that will take you directly to the honey hole of those beloved wild trout streams right down to the very boulder you should hide behind to make your presentation.
I think a lot of people get a little bit too caught up in the Gierach Zen in this neck of the woods (East Coast)………“The idea is to fish obscure headwater creeks in hopes of eventually sniffing out an underappreciated little trout creek down an un-marked dirt road.  Why is another question?  I suppose it’s partly for the fishing itself and partly to satisfy your curiosity, but mostly to sustain the belief that such things are still out there to find for those willing to look.” All very true and well put, but the reality of the matter here is that Gierach is talking about backpacking the wild cutthroat streams in the isolation of the CO wilderness while we’re pulling off the highway or county road to fish widely known NJ/PA streams.  Others yet, do venture further into the woods to fish for those very pretty native brookies. 
Photo courtesy of JTD.
The prevailing fear is that my postings and praisings of the Loyalsock Creek will turn it into a destination.   “I have no problem with you guys loving the place - just don't turn it into Penn's or the Salmon River, please”.  If the Sock becomes the Salmon River (Pulaski, NY – I gather) then I want my cut of the $$$$ for promotion.  If it were the case towns like Hillsgrove would be doing a lot better than they are, the Hillsgrove Country Store would be able to advertise in the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, again, and their fly bins would be hard to keep full because every Orvis & Simms Cowboy from a 200 mile radius would be flocking to it to get the latest localized patterns.  
Photo credit:  Tim Geist

Instead, the bins are skinny because no one is stopping by to buy flies.  In fact, it's quite hard to keep the place open.  It is a true piece of Americana that has been lost elsewhere.  It truly is THE GENERAL STORE that we've all read about and not the Sandwich & Coffee spots that reside underneath "General Store" signs nowadays.  Bacon (fresh off the hog), Butter, Eggs, Milk, Candy, Shotguns, Knives, Crossbows, Bait, Fishing Gear, Gas, & the Post Office are contained within. 

Photo credit: Tim Geist
If the Sock were a Penns/Salmon River, then the Hillsgrove Hotel may very well just have to dust off those pillows and actually function as a “Hotel” rather than just a local watering hole that sells $1.25 mugs of Lager and the Yuengling banner that hangs out front, that says “Welcome Fishermen” can stay out for a few weeks longer rather than right around opening day only to be replaced by "Welcome Hunters" for the rest of the year.  The talk around the bar may get back to the hatches and the day’s catches rather than a town being split into two camps of pro-gas and non-fracking.  Maybe the bar pies can come back.  I may be able to re-up on my tshirt collection.  After eight years, the Hillsgrove Hotel shirt is getting a little tired. Maybe the hotel will have finally changed owners after being on the market for 3-4 years, handicap access could be put in, the outside gets a proper facelift, and brand new sign put out front. 
Photo credit: Tim Geist
At any rate, my question here is where is the fine line between the "spot burn" and highlighting the real threat to the whole region???  What's worse?? 

A few extra likeminded fishermen on the stream??  


The recently approved draw of 750,000 gallons per day from the Loyalsock for hydrofracking purposes?? 

One may say, “I don't quite get how two wrongs make a right here (fracking and spot burning)”.  Yes, my dinky little blog here will not stem the tide of the fracking hordes descending upon the area like  ravenous locusts, and it has been said that, “I don't see the reason to single out one river in the region as an example, no matter how enthusiastic you are about the place - all the anglers you can find will not have more input than the local residents and landowners and the drilling companies have that scene well sorted long ago”.   Why mention it??  Anyone reading this in PA (Hey New Yorkers!! You're in the crosshairs bigtime.) can insert their own favorite “River X” here and a similar threat applies.  Penns, Little Fishing Creek, Little J, Yellow Breeches, the Wanna, the Waxen, the Tulp, and every mile of the 10,000 or so of trout waters in PA (5,000 miles of which are trout production waters) is facing Death in a chess match like Max Van Sydow in the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Seventh Seal , trying to buy time, which is fading into memory. 

Conversely, isn’t it just as wrong to say……well, in the future don’t even mention the stream anywhere.  What’s out there already is out there and let it settle to the bottom like silt, because it “protects the resource”.   Leave it be so I can fish it in peace until it can’t be fished anymore because the drilling companies have had the fate of the region “well sorted long ago”??

This can go back and forth for days, I gather, but at the end of the day, I’m passionate about the Sock as anyone else that has taken a bit of the Sock home in their boots.  I’ve never described how great or not the fishing may be.  I never suggest flies or even fishing methods, for that matter.  The vids, pics, and blogging are just documentation on how much a 30+ mile stretch of river has an impact on me.  Everyone else, I would think, has their own special stretch of river that is similar.  You may say tomato and I tomato.  I can show everyone a mere snippet of a 30 mile stretch in vid, pic, and/or text form. 

The rest is up to you. 

This is how I roll. 

If there are folks who don’t like it, and think I have Gilmore/Landis/Meck-ed the Sock, well I will just have to respectfully disagree and leave it at that. 

Photo credit: Tim Geist
Cheers & tight lines. 


  1. First off, very nice post! As for the spot burning. How can you spot burn a river or it's trib's like the Loyalsock. This river and it's tribs's have been written about in nearly every fly fishing P.A book. Nothing secret about this place.

  2. Just returned from two days fishing the Sock. Did well for rainbows by fishng the riffleheads in the early morning. Not so lucky during the evening rise due to fireworks going off and putting down the fish.Shopped at Hillsgrove Gen. Store, $25. Gas'd up at Between the Bridges, $40, plus ice cream. Camped two nights at World's End SC.

    I once had a blog on my favoite local trout stream. Within a year, I had an epiphany. why sit around pecking away at a fly fshing blog when I could ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. I joined the local watershed association and now work to protect the creek without publicizing the great fishing on it. Are you an active member of the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association?? Or are you just an armchair blogger leeching off a resource? These are the questions I asked myself and I deleted the blog and joined the watershed group.

  3. Last post was from Paul K., Gloversville NY.

  4. Well said. I've fished this stream for almost 30 years and still get all giddy bringing newcomers up. Sometimes it's not all about the fishing, but bringing a new appreciation to the area, which in turn, brings a new awareness to the surrounding area looking to preserve and protect, and help make it flourish again

  5. I say screw them all ! Post what you want it is an old eastern stream.Some places dont need to be talked about and when you find that place you will know it ought to be kept quiet about.I have fished such a place and I know you will to one day. Pennsylvania( or should I say fracks ville) needs attention soon many of these river could be in danger.It often seems to me that people are always worried about the stupid he said she said crap then banding together to fight big companies who are just out for greed and looking to destroy our plant and the outdoors we so love.funny how money can make greedy people join together but happiness and the joy of the outdoors doesnt get a group together. Enjoy the outdoors while we have it soon it will be another Chernobyl.

  6. I agree it's all going to fast. 5000 new homes are planned in my home town, and all those folk will need water. Nice blog.


    Call in and follow if you get time, best wishes.

  7. Really pleased to find you blog today. Not only is it good reading, but fun too, thanks.


    Drop in and follow if you get time?

    Best Wishes.

  8. very interesting article .keep it your post.....