Our first true winter day came about this weekend. Blustery, cold, and raw. I decided to explore some new water in southern York County, Pennsylvania. Heading downstream, making my way through a landscape of naked trees and scrubby oaks, I met an injured doe and spooked a nice buck. Luckily, rifle season just ended so I didn't run into any hunters, though out of habit my eyes kept scanning the second horizon of the canopy in search of tree stands in use.
With the temperatures dropping, the fish were sliding into their slow, spooky winter state of mind.
This stretch of water runs through some farm fields and wooded pastures. The water was on the lower side, so fishing upstream and far back proved to be most productive. A stealth approach, something I'm in dire need of improving, was needed.
The wild browns were keyed in on flashy stuff: greenie weenies, frenchies, & pink san juan worms drifted low and deep. They hung up at the bottom of pools and tucked in the undercut of the bank.
It's always good to explore new water, to test your knowledge and skill, and to push yourself to get caught in brambles and accidentally step into some sweet holes in order to find new fish and new stories. I'll be heading back to this stretch in the spring, when the water is higher and the top-water action on point.
I stumbled upon the name "Raftman's Path" walking the river trail that traverses through the little town I live in. It was named during the days when lumber was a huge commodity in this area. The Susquehanna River was an industrial thoroughfare - bearing down loads of lumber from the northern reaches of Pennsylvania towards the Chesapeake. Marietta was a stopping point, a place for the lumber either to go to the mills lining its banks or shoot further downstream through pig iron smoke. Raftmen would guide the lumber down to the mouth of the Susquehanna into the Chesapeake - an estuary of salt, water, lumber, ore, eel and shad. When their job was done, they would walk the raftman's path back through the Susquehanna Riverlands of Lancaster County towards their homes. The path is now wooded and meanders through some of the only "wild" places left in the county.