Last updated: July 13. 2014 1:33PM - 540 Views
By - klovern@civitasmedia.com - 304-235-4242

Even the mighty South Branch Potomac streambed is reduced to a rocky rubble come the low flows of summer. Fish eating predators have the advantage during these times. (Photo by Bob Fala)
Even the mighty South Branch Potomac streambed is reduced to a rocky rubble come the low flows of summer. Fish eating predators have the advantage during these times. (Photo by Bob Fala)
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By Bob Fala

Outdoor Columnist

If you like a little tribulation, trout fishing the low flows of July can be just the ticket. But just don’t plan on a fish dinner if you know what I mean. The stocking season is long gone as most of it has already met with the frying pan. But if you just can’t get by without the even somewhat warmer summer waters come flowing past your tootsies, you just have to give it a whirl. However there may be a bit of friendly competition of the wild sort for the last few surviving fish!

As I took a gander down into the all but dry and rocky streambed from the vantage point of a regularly stocked high country roadside bridge, I contemplated the sanity of my endeavor. When low and behold, a handsome mink appeared. It sauntered about the bank below searching for its morning meal. As he slipped under some large rocks and out of sight, a couple of decent trout cut the water, spooked out of their lair.

This was enough to get me grabbing for the fly rod as these low, clear waters called for it as the only hope. Whatever trout were left would be eating tiny insects that the flies would imitate. Amused by the fidgety and near-sighted antics of the mink, I squeaked at it like a mouse to wet its curiosity.

That it did, but the little mink stole on four legs could not make me out in plain sight. Mr. Magoo would have had a better chance. A scroungy looking coyote broke out of a weed patch quite near the mink. Could it have been looking to grab its morning meal with no regard to that lustrous fur? I thought so. What a dog eat dog, I mean coyote eat mink world.

Looking upstream, a stilt-legged Great blue heron was plying its fishing prowess, just standing there like a statue waiting to ambush its next fish meal with a stab from that long slender bill. There were otters in the deeper waters down river that eat so much fresh fish that they smell just like one. So do the serrated-beaked merganser ducks. A mother and her group of ducklings go splashing away as I got near.

The blue jay looking kingfishers fly by in a flash like strafing fighter pilots patrolling the stream channel, ready to bomb their fish victims in diving stoops the way land-lubber hawks do for mice. There were ospreys or fish hawks in the territory that do likewise. As if to lay its claim to the now confined fish resource left in the last few flowing pools of the dang near dry streambed, a big bird glides over, you know the one with the snow white head and tail band, our national symbol.

The American bald eagle could take its share of the fishery or even steal a meal if it had to from some of the lesser fish-eaters of the outdoor world. I may have been the least of the trout’s worries of the summer streambed. The wild predators and that warm water were much more of a threat to trout than any silly fly-fishermen could muster under the circumstances.

And with that, I bid them adieu with high hopes for victory in their annual fight for survival during the annual summer stress period.

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