Fishfinder Test Paddle (day trip)

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Day trip follow up report and posting experiment, in several parts. I tried to post and got a message “Post less than 10,000 characters. Also don’t know if the multiple photo links exceed some limit. Here goes:



As promised I returned to the upper Conowingo Pool. Surprisingly here were only three cars (and no boat trailers) in the expansive Fish Commission put in parking lot when I arrived, two when I left. Weekends are likely much different; I’d rather not find out.



I brought along several copies of the annotated river map as give-aways to paddlers unfamiliar with the area. Soon after I put in I encountered a four-some of older ladies (eh, ok, my age) in rec kayaks and asked “Have you all paddled here before?”



“No, first time” one replied. I said, “Here, I have a map you can have”. They muckled up to study the map and were appreciative. One remarked “We’ll try to keep it dry”, so I emptied my lunch bag and gave them a Zip-lock bag. Nice ladies, I hope they enjoyed the map guided tour d’ rocks, cliffs and beaches.



P8030024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



The semi-snooty pseudo sea kayaker I met was a different story. Damn kayakers ;-)



“Surprising” because it was a gorgeous day, mid-70’s, mostly cloudy and low humidity. I saw a single power boater, father, son and dog, slowly putt-putt casting. Lucky kid, a weekday with Dad, dog, boat and fishing pole; life doesn’t get any better than that when you are 12.



Been there, exactly there there, same age, same slow putt-putt, in the same place on the same river. It even looked like one of our old boats and ancient motors. Damn near made me tear up.



Mostly I wanted to paddle around the islands and rock faces I missed visiting last trip. Starting my tour d’ islands at the north end of Big Chestnut the hidden grotto was too shallow to paddle into; the water level dropped at least a foot while I was paddling. Damn dams.



P8020001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



Guess I need to go back again, just to paddle into that scenic grotto, and try to get into the shallow rock archipelago maze north of Upper Bear. I should add a further annotation to my map, “Here be monsters”; there are startlingly large carp in those shallow pools.



Maybe next time I’ll bring rod and reel. I had them all ready to go; new line spooled, new lures and hooks. I even had my fishing license(s) in my PFD pocket, a valid 2021 license, and the last fishing license I bought, found in the tackle box, a 1991 out-of-State Maine. Which I plan to hand to the first DNR guy who asks to see my fishing license.



Athough, if he simply says “Can I see your license?” that same PFD pocket contains an expired Driver’s license (hint, hint good use for expired licenses). Then maybe “Oh, a fishing license” producing the vintage Maine license, then, if I’m not in cuffs yet, a valid 2021 fishing license. I will live dangerously.



But, much like “golf is a good walk spoiled”. . . . . I just want to paddle around, not mess with effing fish.
 
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Hummm, part I. Way less than 10,000 characters, but it didn’t like 9000-ish (with spaces). On to part II, trying the rest of that blather, another 7007 characters and spaces.



I circumnavigated most of the 10 islands behind Big Chestnut, inspecting the best of the cliff faces and sundry inter-island passages. Meandering around and between those close clustered islands, semi-sheltered from the main current, is always a visual treat, even if I’ve seen those views 1000 times before.



P8020004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



P8020005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



P8020006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



There are some magnificent uplift rock faces thereabouts.



P8020008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



P8020010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



Including my favorite.



P8020009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



It’s not all rocks, there are scattered sandy beaches; the black streaks are coal dust. Not bad today, those beaches once looked like Punaluu in Hawaii.



Holtwood was a coal burning plant (with some minor water turbine power). In the pre-scrubber-stack 1960’s we couldn’t hang laundry to dry at camp, everything would come out sooty. Even the winter snow was tinged with black speckles. Some things have changed for the better.



P8020012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



The Boy Scouts once camped in the woods behind that sandy beach site each fall. And, of course, there is a story, involving my prankster father, a portable record player, a spooky Halloween horror-sounds record and a slow nighttime float past that BS occupied site, replete with cackling witches and ghostly whooshes.



(Ed was my prankster role model. He habitually carried a defunct 35mm SLR in the ’60’s when we paddled small streams. He would “photograph” bank side fishermen, chat them up and believably patter that he was a writer on assignment from Field & Stream. “Look for your picture next issue!” Freaking Ed, who once caused a panning for gold panic at a Georgia State Park)



A stop at the old Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal aqueduct stone work. I keep calling that stonework an “aqueduct”, but suspect it may simply been a towpath bridge over the mouth of Muddy Creek.



P8020014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



There is similar stonework 100 yards up Muddy Creek near a side stream; it could be the canal company dam controlled/divetred the flow from the creek & stream. It would be interesting to know how they managed that water, and handled canal boat passage & tow across the mouth of the creek.



Up Muddy Creek. Once past the cluster of camps and cabins near the confluence Muddy Creek is verdant and between-steep-hillsides shady delightful on a hot sunny days.



And sometimes not that muddy, especially further upstream. Maybe better agricultural practices; southern York county farms have turned increasingly Amish in the past couple decades. Do stop at their roadside produce stands; you won’t be disappointed, it’s picked that morning from the field.



P8020017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



I should, as usual, have waded the canoe over the shallow riffle on Muddy Creek. Just around the bend, above the quiet water pooled behind that short riffle, is the last falls rapid on Muddy Creek, complete with a sandy beach and a nice deep swimming hole. But, bizarre for August, it wasn’t sweltering swimming weather.



P8020016 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



Back down to the river I poked into the old canal remains for a looksee. When it is clear of debris that bit of floatable canal is a great way to sneak back upstream for a few hundred yards along the York County side, sheltered from the current. Or when it was; it’s been a long time since that section was clear of strainers and debris, it needs a good flood to flush it out again.



P8020019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



After the openness of the Conowingo Pool a bit of narrower confines, Muddy Creek and the canal, makes a nice change. The varied birdlife in that narrow riparian fringe behind the towpath is top notch, with an occasionally Gar flashing in the shallows. Come on floodwaters; once swept clear that section of floatable canal runs from the mouth of Muddy Creek north almost as far as the Fish Commission put in, and is only paddling achievable.



I concluded the glorious day with a something caloric for Pete; open-face hot roast beef and French fries, gravy over everything, too stuffed for desert. My treat if you are ever up this way again.



P8030022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr



Thanks to that “next trip” promise I enjoyed yet another fun day paddling in my old familiar stomping grounds. Now, finally, with a Fish Commission launch permit, it has again become one of my favorite near-to-home scenic drive places for an easy day paddle.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Mike, can you log in with Chrome and Firefox now and can you see your "Guest" posts?

You seem to have gotten 12 pictures in your part 2 post (which is a "message" in XF lingo). I believe the max is 20 pictures per message. I can increase the 10,000 characters per message if it regularly affects you.
 
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