Wednesday night, less than three days before the Pennsylvania trout opener, I was unloading the car from after a trip to the store. The dogs were outside, chasing each other around and burning off some pent-up energy. Lilah, our 40-pound mutt who runs like a greyhound and is solid from nose to tail, and happens to be knee-high, slammed into me at full speed. There’s no bending my right leg. Something bad is going on inside.

I popped some Advil and iced it down, but still couldn’t bend my knee at bedtime. I did a peg-legged shuffle up the stairs. It was no better Thursday morning so I made a doctor’s appointment. He thought it was a torn MCL and probably a torn meniscus. That would mean surgery and being on the shelf for six or so weeks – which would completely wash out the prime time to fish for trout.

The doctor prescribed a knee brace and an x-ray that wouldn’t tell me anything (and didn’t, consequently, so an MRI was scheduled). I got a little more range of motion as Thursday progressed, but there was still pain and my leg wouldn’t come close to bending at 90 degrees. Regardless, I still planned to go to F-Troop for the weekend. If nothing else I could hobble around, hang out with the guys, and maybe do some bridge-hopping for stocked trout.

Matt and Gary replace an old window in Camp F-Troop's kitchen.
Matt and Gary replace an old window in Camp F-Troop’s kitchen.

I arrived at camp to a steady rain Friday afternoon, and was followed by Matt, Gary and Don soon after. The rain washed out any plans of hitting a few wild trout streams. That wasn’t necessarily a bad development because it forced us to stay in and replace three windows at camp. The weather cleared up a bit in the evening for a campfire, but otherwise it was a quiet night.

Saturday dawned clear and, while other fishermen were elbow to elbow and fighting for territory in the area’s stocked creeks before 8 a.m., we relaxed and enjoyed our morning coffee and breakfast. Around 10 we started to gear up and get things organized.

The main group, which also included Aaron, Todd and Brett, headed for the traditional excursion down Redtail Run. Unsure if my wonky knee would hold up on the uneven terrain, I headed a little farther north to Falls Run. It lived up to its nickname thanks to Friday’s rain. Plunge pool after plunge pool tempted me with the hopes of gorgeous little brook trout. After spending quite a bit of time at each over a half-mile I hooked three wild brookies in the 4- to 5-inch range. Each was released back into the pool it came from. It wasn’t a bad haul, but I had hoped for more based on what appeared to be perfect conditions. Upon further reflection, the speed of the water was probably a little quick and the water still a tad cold for the tiny fish to be truly active.

Don works a plunge pool in search of trout.
Don works a plunge pool in search of trout.

I returned to my car and headed farther north to Bridge Run, a low-gradient stream I had fished one other time in the heat of the summer when the water was barely a trickle. This time was different as the stream showed a number of nice riffles and deep holes tucked close to its banks. I fished it for close to an hour but didn’t get a hit.

Figuring the other guys were over halfway through their day, I decided to try and meet up with them at a familiar waterfall about a half-mile from the end of their excursion. I drove back to Redtail Run, traversed the uneven ground and fallen trees, I fished my way upstream – unsuccessfully – before finding them at the waterfall. They hadn’t landed many fish either. Two guys were shut out, and the other four caught a dozen or so between them. We returned to camp for dinner, a campfire and a poker game before calling it a night.

Todd prospects a pool on Falls Run.
Todd prospects a pool on Falls Run.

Todd and Don decided to take another shot at Falls Run Sunday morning while I served as photographer. They, too, were shut out. I had hoped to stop at another creek or two on the way home but that didn’t pan out. I figured I had put more stress on my knee than I should have to that point of the weekend.

Good news came from Monday’s MRI – a partially torn MCL and a bone bruise. No torn meniscus, so no surgery was needed. I scheduled some physical therapy sessions and got started with those because another weekend getaway trip is on the horizon.

Fished: Falls Run, Bridge Run, Redtail Run (all nicknames)
Quest Total: 8, 9, 10 of 40

2014 Trout Opener
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