Written by: Drew Nisbet, Fishing Manager of Orvis Buffalo
It starts in an alder swamp, where cold spring water bubbles up from the ground. Dense, nearly impenetrable thickets of buttonbush and winterberry holly shade black, organic rich mineral soils that remain saturated much of the year. As water collects in this poorly drained basin, it begins to flow and form braided channels through the thick sediment where frogs and turtles sun themselves in grassy wetland meadows and beavers engineer their homes.
As the elevation slopes, the water begins to pick up speed, powerful enough to undercut the bank and scour the landscape. The alders give way to emergent Allegheny hardwoods, with a fern and moss covered forest floor. The streambed is now well defined, meandering like a serpent through glacial moraine composed of cobble, sand, and layers of clay.
The cold, oxygenated and nutrient-laden water gives life to a community of aquatic insects clinging to rocks and submerged detritus. Native char and stream-born salmonids compete in a underwater world of riffles, runs, and pools. Averaging less than 20 feet wide, the steam finds an equilibrium of energy–combining temperature, size and turbidity to exist in a state of delicate perfection. This is where the wild things are.