A Local Haunt
Field & Stream|Volume 125 - Issue 4, 2020
The author finds a sense of place in an overlooked creek, close to home
T. Edward Nickens

I CAUGHT THE FIRST fish in a small pool that clung to the rock face like lichen, 15 feet below the top drop of a double waterfall, just before the creek plunged over a 120-foot cliff. I was simply messing around as we took a breather before the trail’s final descent to the bottom of the gorge. Nothing could live in there, I’d figured, as I halfheartedly rolled a yellow Sweat Bee into the hole.

The fly held less than two seconds on the edge of a foam line before a little trout smacked it as if it were the last piece of a pizza at a frat party. The trout ping-ponged around the pool, with nowhere to go. I was just as surprised as the fish. It seemed incredible that a trout could live in this crack in the cliff. The fish must have washed down from upstream at some point, and unless high water swept it over the waterfall— a ride it likely wouldn’t survive— its life forevermore would be constrained by this one plunge pool hardly four steps wide. These days, we all know how that feels.

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