At this angle of the rock wall on Cemetery Ridge the Rebels made their furthest advance at Gettysburg. It’s called the "high water mark of the Confederacy" In the picture below a touristy history teacher and battery commander from the loyal frontier state of Minnesota prepares to hurl Lee’s troops back with cannon fire.
Well no... Not exactly. It wasn't the "high water mark of the Confederacy" at Gettysburg but the water was definitely high on the South Branch of the Root River in Minnesota. My first trout fishing of the spring turned out to be a real challenge. Our local limestone, spring fed trout streams, here in Bluff Country, have been low for at least a decade. The ground water reservoirs definitely needed recharging. It hasn't been severe drought conditions, and farming has been okay, but streams levels by mid-May have looked more like mid-August. After a few years what looks like abnormal becomes normal. Thus, to my surprise, when I entered my regular stream crossing point, where Mr. Farmer drives his tractor to reach a corn field, I was quickly waist deep and having trouble keeping my balance.The water was crystal clear (not flooding) but another step or two and I would have been up to my armpits and about to float away. Not good. At this point, I thought of my collapsible wading stick, which was tucked away safely in the garage, waiting for the next trip to the blue ribbon trout streams of Montana. The powerful flows of rivers like the Madison, the Gallatin, the Bitterroot, etc. make it a necessity. I never thought I would need it here.
A few decades ago I would have tried to find another point to cross but not anymore. As a matter of fact, I had delayed going fishing for several weeks because this spring had featured snow storms, sleet, drenching rains and generally miserable weather. I had curled up with some good biographies and Civil War histories and waited things out.On this warm and sunny spring day discretion proved to be the better part of valor. I wandered down along the bank looking for a comfortable place to sit. Finding it I had dangled my feet over the edge I had looked around. Hmmm.Well, I could have pretended I was back on the farm ponds of my youth, trusty cane pole in hand dangling a bobber and worm.
Then, I began to fish, dangling my fly below me and letting it drift along the bank.Not expecting much to happen I watched the little birds flitting among the brush on the other side. Flashes of yellow and black. Olive greens and black. "Warblers" I thought. What kind? I had known all through my years of stream fishing that warblers loved stream edges. They could often be seen darting above the water during the insect hatches. Now, I needed to know what kind they were. At the very least add a few to my slowly growing "life list." It was not to be and I strained to catch some "field marks." It was impossible without my binoculars. This was turning out to be a very frustrating day.
At that moment, I saw my first rise. Then another and another. I switched to a dry and watched it float right into the mouth of a rising brown. Within fifteen minutes I had my limit of 10 to 12 inchers. Yes, I keep them that size for the grill. Catch and release for anything larger. High water fishing was marked very good that day. We had grilled trout that evening for dinner. Then I went back to reading the great Shelby Foote on the Civil War.