A couple of years ago, I was finishing
up an Autumn trip to my favorite water,
Penns Creek near Coburn, Pennsylvania.
For those who've never been there, Penns
is one of the most fecund streams in the
world. There are more bugs and more kinds
of bugs in that water than any ten streams
I've ever visited. Additionally, Coburn is
in the middle of Pennsylvania's Amish country.
Home to tons of brown trout, Penns never seems
At about 2 p.m. on the Sunday, I decided to
end my weekend and prepare for the three hour
drive home to Baltimore. I was pretty relaxed,
the stresses of the previous week gone, my mind
still whirling with memories of the copper-colored
gold I'd struck. The leaves were leaning toward
the first hints of the flame and amber glories
soon to come. The perfume was old pine needles
with a hint of frost. I wandered up the trail,
crossed the old train trestle bridge, set my rod
on my roof rack and started to strip off the waders.
As I was putting my gear in the truck, an elderly
Russian couple asked me directions to the top of
the hill. Was there a path? I actually used a
bit of Russian in my directions, though I think
I gave them directions to the Starbucks coffee
shop in downtown Baltimore where they could order
a furry farm tractor with onions. My Russian isn't
Three and a half hours later, I'm back in suburbia,
unpacking the truck. This is when I noticed the
empty rod tube. I searched the truck, nothing.
Despondent. I wrote up the trip report of a
glorious weekend, tinged, at the end, with the
final farewell to a treasured friend.
A rod is more than a piece of equipment; it
is an extension of you. It is your arm flying
above the green waters. The line is your hand
resting on the cool riffles, sensing the
movements and eddies. The fly is your
searching fingertips, gently coaxing the
speckled friends to you.
I posted the trip report and went to bed.
The rod was lost. Live and learn, move on.
The next morning, I started to look at
the responses to my story. One friend
noted that I should call Jonas at the
Feathered Hook Fly Shop in Coburn.
Jonas may have an idea about the rod.
I mulled the thought over. Jonas is a
wonderful fly shop owner, knowledgeable
and witty. My standard greeting is to
throw open the door of his shop and toss
in my wallet. Well, it can't hurt. I
That's when I got the surprise. He'd seen
my rod. He and his lady fair had been
walking along the creek the night before
and noticed a rod leaning against the stop
sign next to the creek. He knew the rod
belonged to one of his customers; he
recognized the little yellow parachute
crane fly as one of his.
I asked him if he could check if it still
was there. "But of course!" He then closed
the shop and went up to the stop sign. It
was still there. He retrieved it and called
me back. "Where do you want it sent?"
I gave him my address and offered to pay
him richly for his time and the cost of
shipping. He refused all rewards and even
the cost of shipping. Three days later,
the rod was back in my hand, even the fly
To this day, I marvel at the honesty of
a wonderful fly shop owner and the
mysterious stranger who sat my rod against
the stop sign. I must have driven off after
talking to the Russian couple, my mind still
wrapped around the sights and sounds of a
wonderful weekend. My rod paid the price,
forgotten atop my truck, until I turned off
the road at the stop sign, tumbling to the
dirt and gravel.
On that day, more than my rod was rescued.
My faith in my fellow man was affirmed.
We live in a corporate culture where
getting ahead is king. However, the
values engendered in a little fly shop
in Central Pennsylvania are the ones
that truly separate man from beast. ~ Frank Reid