Freestone Exploration – Rusty Lofgren

By chance an old gated dirt road was opened for access along a particular unnamed freestone stream in west, northern, east, southern Pennsylvania, and a fellow fisherperson and I traveled this dirt road to see what we could see.

Rusty Lofgren Freestone 4

Nature stood around us and we enjoyed being a part of it. We saw a pile of bear scat the size of a seat cushion, birds a-plenty, and even spooked a doe in a field along this dirt road.

Way down around the corner, up and over the mountain, then back down again and into a ravine we stumbled upon a tributary to this particular unnamed freestone stream whose beauty was something to behold.

Rusty Lofgren Freestone 5

We stopped to enjoy the sights and sounds of this little mountain run, and only wondered the number of brook trout it held.

Our fly rods we kept in the car, and probably for the better as this tight run would require magnificent precision casts just to land a fly in the water and get a good drift.

Tempting, yes, but sometimes it is best to just look.

Rusty Lofgren Freestone 1


After this respite we headed back to the main stream and geared up for some freestone fishing.

Rusty Lofgren Freestone 2


Several casts were made and a couple of fish hooked, but it didn’t take long for me to notice something that prompted me to lay my rod down and take a looksee.

Rusty Lofgren Freestone 3

A stone wall was built by someone back in the day along the banks of this stream, and I could only wonder why. Probably for some sort of logging purposes, and thoughts of when the wall was created ran through my head. It may had been as old as the 1800s, and could have helped aid in transporting lumber down this creek. Or maybe it was older?

Perhaps it was built for military purposes for one of those old wars that were fought on the soils of this country. Hard to say, but it looked pretty interesting, and I was intrigued.

Eh, no fish to talk to for me on this trip. They were there, just “not in the mood to converse”.

Rusty Lofgren Freestone 6

No worries, though. It was fun to look around.

Rusty Lofgren is a photographer, videographer and writer in Pittsburgh, PA. Rusty’s portfolio and contact information are available at LeafBranch Studios and his new book Penna Fly Fishing Seasons is available on

Nature, Nude and Nationality – Photo Meander by Rusty Lofgren

Red Roof Barn - Rusty Lofgren

On my way for a hike in the woods at a new favorite spot in Western Penna, camera in the passenger’s seat, I happened upon this old red roofed barn, white washed wood sides, and the brushed clouds behind it. It looked like a painting to me as I drove by. I glanced at the rear view mirror to make certain no truck or car was behind me on this back country road, and all was clear so I hit the brakes in my little mule and backed up a bit to take a few photos through the windshield. It wasn’t until I made it back home after my hike that I noticed the blue and purple flowers along the fence that add a touch of color to the lower left of the image, and this one of the group stands as my favorite. Sometimes you get lucky.

Wings on a Wire -Rusty Lofgren

Pointing my camera to the sky at this group of swallows yielded a bunch of fun pictures of these birds flocking to a wire near a favorite barn in Central Pennsylvania. Not much luck in these pictures. The birds seemed to have a pattern of flying away and then coming back, so I just pointed the camera towards the electrical wire, waited for the birds to circle around then return, and let auto focus and the camera do the rest. This one I titled ‘Wings on a Wire’.

Night Reflection on the Allegheny - Rusty Lofgren

Few things in life are perfect, if any, but the reflection on this river water in our great city of Pittsburgh is something to behold. Soooooooo, I’d rate this image on the water a 9 out of 10. About as high of a rating as I’d give anything in life…

Painting - Rusty Lofgren

A great friend from college, Luke Scott, took pictures of me naked while standing on a teacher’s desk in a classroom at college while two dudes stood watching. Friends would joke, “Huh, I’ve never done that before… Nope, never stood naked in a classroom with two dudes looking at me”, they would joke.  Not me.” Those photos were shown at an art show at college and created a little stir amongst my friends at college, but I didn’t care a bit about that. Supposedly Luke wanted to say that we all have nightmares about standing naked in a classroom. Who is ever made to do that? He painted a blue painting of one of those photos and I promised him that I would always hang it in my home. The problem was those eyes that he painted of me were always watching me no matter where I stood in the room and it sort of weirded out people. Surely they recognized the art in the painting, but where do you put a piece like that in a home? And who is ever made to stand naked in a classroom is what I recently thought, so I added a little color to this old painting, put shades on the eyes, and did a little voodoo with some yellow and coral reef colors to brighten up this blue piece. To be honest, I was just working a little voodoo, and having good fun with paints.

Crest Rod - Rusty Lofgren

The rainbow trout swam without hesitation back into the stream shortly after its close-up.

The rod’s silk guide-wrap colors were picked from a framed family crest shield that has hung on the walls in the home I grew up in since my childhood, the apparent crest of my Swedish last name, but their’s no real confirmation of any of that. Something someone in the family found in an art store or something.

My friend from Oregon, on his fishing visit to Penna last year, and while he was at my home before I sent him back to the west, suggested that I use those colors for my bamboo rod after seeing the family crest hanging on my wall. I had no real idea what to choose as colors for the rod I intended to purchase that year, and so the crest’s colors seemed better than a great choice.

The rod was originally named “The Family Crest Rod” by the rod maker, based on the photo of the family crest I sent him. When the rod maker later learned that I am only 25% Swedish by blood, ‘The Family Crest Rod’ quickly became known as “The 75% Impostor Rod” among a certain circle of persons.

In time I hope to find family crests of my other three blood nationalities, and make a collection of four separate bamboo rods, each properly named in the series: “The 75% Impostor Rod(s) – 01, 02, 03, and 04”.

“The 75% Impostor Rod – 01” proudly rests above the fish in the photo.

Blue Boat - Rusty Lofgren

A blue boat upside down on a dock left me wondering who its owner was, when it was last used, and if it still floated. If it was used of late, and if so, to where were they floating? I’m not much of a sailor, but thought that this blue craft was intriguing. It stood as a good prop for forthcoming maternity pictures of a great couple whose wedding I photographed last July.

Duck - Rusty Lofgren

This duck struck a pose, and it worked for this image at the same nearby lake. I took this photo before the expecting couple arrived at the same lake where the blue boat sat. I knew enough to arrive early to look for good photographic places, and the blue boat was one of them. This duck didn’t make it into the maternity pictures, but in this still water and with some cool sunlight, it stood as my favorite of the webbed footed birds that morning. There were plenty of those, and my jeans were a little dirty from duck poop after sitting on the lawn to take the photo. Fun fun, but all for the photo.

West Branch, PA - Rusty Lofgren

My first fly fishing buddy, who shares the same life long passions for the pastime as I do, visited me after I graduated from college in New Jersey in 1995, and together we made a trip to the West Branch of the Delaware River that separates New York from Pennsylvania that August. After a five hour trip north we met a couple of great old timers at a local watering hole who directed us to a safe spot to camp for the night before fishing. The next morning, those same fellas were right in front of our camp the following morning and made us coffee. We headed out to fish that morning, and I took one photo on this trip, the one included below. There was fog coming off the water that morning, and with an old film camera loaded with slide film, I took one image of my friend wading out towards the split in the river to fish along the island. Then a funny thing happened (sort of) that evening after we fished. My buddy left his waders on the back of his car and they fell off at some point on our way to a local fly shop to gear up with flies and leaders.

We continued to fish the following day, and my buddy coldly waded to a rock that sat in the middle of the river, and stood on this rock to stay dry and fish from (the rock is only on the original slide image now)… The things one can do with computers these days. I should had left the rock in this image, but the stupid perfectionist in me Photoshopped it out. Since I had that image scanned and removed the rock, I’ve learned that nothing in life is perfect. Despite not personally landing a fish on that trip in 1995, it stands as one of my all time favorites as I stood in the water just watching my friend cast from his rock in the middle of the river and land fish consistently. Maybe that trip was perfect/not sure.

Twelve years later in 2012 we met for the first time since I last saw him on that 1995 trip to the West Branch. Great to reconnect, and great to see an old friend. Despite the 12 years that had past, it felt like fishing together back in 1994 and 1995, and for a day it brought back a lot of things. I took my camera that day to Penns Creek but didn’t take a single photo despite the show off monster trout jockeying for position for the fall spawn. We tried everything to hook onto one of those monster trout that were leaping out of the water as his golden retriever, so well trained, sat on the bank watching, but never entering the water, just watching curiously. My buddy’s rainbow trout looked pretty good along with a brown trout he landed, compared to the small mouthed bass that I landed. We had a good laugh over our lack of fishing success that day and shared a couple of beers over dinner like old times. The spawn was just late that year, and once again, a day of good fun that I keep close to my heart. Maybe that trip was perfect too.

Rusty Lofgren is a photographer, videographer and writer in Pittsburgh, PA. Rusty’s portfolio and contact information are available at LeafBranch Studios and his new book Penna Fly Fishing Seasons is available at