Monday, May 22, 2006

The various conservancies held their annual "Big Spring Festival" yesterday down at Tallyrand Park in Bellefonte. Attendance was kind of low, probably due to the miserable rainy morning and the many recent firehouse carnivals, but the afternoon was a bright, blustery blue-skied wonderland, so it was nice for the few of us who came by. They had a band - a pretty good one, too, a blues-rock quintet whose drummer kept crediting the sound folks, but never mentioned the name of the band. They had a young, tiny little frontwoman with an enormous, bluesy voice - I ran into her proud father afterwards. Even he didn't know the band's name.

About four o'clock they held a semi-ceremonial restocking affair on the High Street bridge over Spring Creek, one guy dipping trout and other big fish out of a truck into buckets, and a line of guys through the bushes down to the wall to hand them down to a guy who was showing them to the kids before emptying the buckets into a temporary sluiceway the last twenty feet into the creek. I kept expecting one of the kids or a member of the bucket brigade to overbalance and fall into the creek, but luck was with them, and the only victim was an especially large rainbow trout who was too big to fit into a bucket, and got handed down in the net, bounding out of the sluiceway before he got a foot and a half down, thus plummeting over a dozen feet into the water. Nobody saw the trout float to the surface, so the assumption was that he survived his plunge.

Later that evening I walked to Milesburg along the railroad. It runs along the far side of the water gap from Rt. 150/144, and I had never gone down that side of the creek before. Turns out there's a surprisingly large switchyard down there, with about a half-dozen sidings and thirty or forty empty cars sitting on one track or another. The fishermen were plentiful as well, no doubt getting their first crack at the newly released fish, although the one man I talked to, walking along the track towards his favorite spot, hadn't heard about the restocking when I asked. There were at least a dozen flyfishermen enjoying the early evening weather, in the creek between the mouths of Buffalo Run and Bald Eagle Creek. Not a bad walk, if a trifle uneven in places. Railbed gravel can be a little on the rockish side of big for walking.

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