I’ve waited a long time to retire, but the beginning wasn’t what I’d expected, my poor wife becoming seriously ill and then passing. Those first six months were extremely stressful; the golden retirement years didn’t begin as a beautiful, long anticipated dream, but a living nightmare.
Such is life.
Some recent days, though, were more what I had envisioned my retirement to be like.
Fred Dwaileebe and I found ourselves out on the stream. At first the trout in our area were surprising difficult to catch, despite a recent stocking. They weren’t hitting well and if I hadn’t seen the buckets of trout stocked right there myself I more than likely wouldn’t have believed they stocked at all. But finally we had some success and we headed home, a pleasant, relaxing day indeed.
The next day, I met with Richie Frost after he finished work. We drove to the stream picking a bridge with no cars parked nearby. The stream was high and swift, but clear. Since many of the stocked trout had already moved downstream we decided to walk a 100 yards before stopping at a fast run.
Looking at the greenish, rushing current it seemed to me as if a spinner would the bait of choice. I could cast across the stream to a small eddy and then slow roll the spinner across the run.
Stepping into the knee-deep current and filled with the anticipation all feel when fishing a new location I fired the spinner across the creek and saw it splash down a foot from shore. Perfect!
I flicked the rod tip up to start the spinner blade and reeled just fast enough to keep it turning, angling slightly downstream. It only made it 4 feet before it stopped with a thump.
My rod flashed up and the hook bit home. Immediately a heavy fish bent the rod in a deep bow, the trout’s power telegraphing up the line, down the quivering rod directly into my hands and wrists.
How can one describe the elation, the thrill, wild happiness and joy a large, unseen trout brings? The unbelievable act of somehow using a thin, whippy, graphite rod; a ridiculously thin monofilament line; a little machine called a reel; and a spinning piece of metal with a hook to miraculously connect you to an unseen fish. In such a deep, cold, rushing flow of water such a thing doesn’t seem possible, but therein lies the magic of fishing.
Furthermore, to feel the living power of that fish battling against you, transmitting all its essence and strength right into your hands even though it’s 50 feet away and still hidden from sight is a rush beyond description.
The trout surged, turning its broadside into the current, dramatically multiplying the strain on my equipment. The line hummed, my hands felt the forces increase dangerously and just in time I let her run before the thin line snapped.
The trout dashed downstream, again using the current to aid and strengthen it. I gulped and, quickly, it was 20 yards downstream, hanging stationary. Pulling harder didn’t budge the trout. I eased up, kept the pressure on and waited for it to make the next move.
After a minute or so the trout dashed upstream and, slowly, I worked it closer. Five long minutes passed before I finally netted this heavy fish: 17 inches, high and thick.
What a battle this brown put on!
Richie set the hook below me and was into another nice brown just as my second cast was rapped by another spunky 2-year-old brown, and yet another epic tug of war took place in the swift current. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Soon I was into a third 2-year-old, and after another drawn out struggle, the fish is in the net. This trout wasn’t as big as the first, but longer than the second. Trout 2 goes back into the creek to fight again.
In case you are as confused by the new trout laws as me, the limit statewide is five fish any size. However, in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, you are still only allowed two trout 12 inches or larger, along with three other trout under 12 inches — five total. You darn near need to be a lawyer to figure this stuff out and some officials I spoke to were unclear themselves.
Richie tied into a second large trout and was in deep concentration, attempting to keep the strong, thrashing trout on the end of his line. It managed to run directly downstream and was very difficult to work back up, even with without horsing it. Somehow the hook held and Rich was all smiles at the hefty trout’s length — and his good fortune in landing the beauty.
The fast, deep current caused us to lose more of the larger fish than normal. If the hook wasn’t in solidly the additional force needed to work a trout upstream against that rushing water tore the hook out.
Once the big boys stopped hitting we were forced to start finesse fishing with mealworms, nightcrawlers and waxworms. The smaller trout were pretty picky and often nibbled at our drift, then let go. However, we persevered, had an unexpected rush of hits and were able to limit out.
Creels full, we headed back to the car, full of excited chatter, the satisfying weight of some very nice browns tugging at our shoulders. At Richie’s house I cleaned, divided and fried him some of our catch. He was surprised how excellent tasting they were.
By now this old boy was ready for a bath and bed. The old song goes something like this: I can’t wait for tomorrow because I get better looking each day. I think that should be changed to: I can’t wait for tomorrow because the fishing’s better each day.
Somehow, I don’t think that will hit the Top 10 list, but oh, well.
Good luck to you all and may the fish of your dreams end up on the end of your line. The streams are loaded — good fishing!
(Wade Robertson is an award-winning outdoor writer whose articles have been published in Pennsylvania Outdoor News, Pennsylvania Game News, Fur, Fish & Game and other publications. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)