If trout had a ‘spirit-home,’ it might be the spot behind this rock in the Youghiogheny River in western Maryland. I am quite familiar with it. Among fly anglers who fish this section of the river, it’s practically a tourist attraction. No matter the level of the river, nor the season, there always seem to be some salmonids at home there. Among trout, it’s probably a coveted place — a good spot to live, to swim easily and to spot food floating by. The late Lefty Kreh used to talk about the “little rivers in the big river,” and how you had to learn to recognize them. We do a lot of that in the Youghiogheny, and the little river behind this fairly big rock is one of the more obvious ones.
On a Sunday morning this summer, when my son was catching fish and I was getting skunked, I went to the rock just before my hike back to the car. I watched as a caddis fly came flying out of the little river behind the rock and seemed to bang his head against it. The caddis bounced off and flew off. So, on my next cast, I tried to imitate that action. I bounced a tan caddis off the rock and, when it dropped to the soft water just downstream of it, a foot-long brown trout took it. I released him, of course, and assume he returned, a bit confused and pouty, to his favorite spot in the little river in the big river behind the fairly big rock.