Learnin’ To Love Fishin’


“Hold him now...Don’t horse it..Slow, slow now....you’re reeling too fast..it’s going to get away..steady.. it’s almost to the net! I’ve got it... it’s a nice one!!

There’s several things we learn to love as time slips us by. There’s love of family, perhaps love of learning...somewhat of a slippery slope for this boy... travel, several subjects which capture emotions on various levels. For me, fishing has to rank on one of the higher levels. There’s no doubt in my mind, avidity of my father on the subject had a great deal to do with it. A person whose collection of rods and reels, flies by the thousand, and lures I’m still finding more than several years after his passing to that great salmon river in the sky has got to wear off on his male offspring. Were few afternoons between patients when he wasn’t either out practicing at throwing a fly on the lawn or up to the lake trying to entice an Echo Lake Salmon. (when he didn’t have a golf club in his hands).

This photo, taken after a 21-day marine debris removal effort by the Pacific Island Fisheries Service Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, shows 4,781 bottle caps collected from Midway Atoll’s shoreline. Most plastic bottle caps are made from polypropylene, also known as plastic #5, a hard, durable plastic that can be difficult to recycle in some municipalities.

“Look, look...over by the rocks...cast just up wind and let the bobber carry it to him”

Biggest step in the fishing direction for me was Mother and Dad’s purchase of land and then building a camp on the lake. Even when the lot was just being cleared and we’d be there into late evening the lake would be alive with fish jumping for their dinner. By the next year with a rudimentary structure, some castoff beds, camp stove and a kitchen table...oh and to mention that “god awful” chemical toilet...we’d be there just about every weekend until fall weather drove us out. Wasn’t long but Dad had a dock built and a rope /pulley arrangement for the fishing boat and we looked forward for every possible weekend.

“Those reeds are too thick. I’d never get a pickerel out of there!!”

Back then there were fly rods for those who were old enough to to handle one, and then there were the more frustrating mechanical nightmares imaginable. Bait casting reels for my sister Suzanne and I. We spent more time dealing with rat’s nest backlashes than we did with lures or worms in the water fishing.

“Oh come on...A little rain never hurt anyone..besides I just saw three rises”

Anyhow, the four of us, after supper with the wind down, would settle into the boat and go off trolling for Bass. There were evenings we’d fill a wash basin with these delectable creatures, then have fried bass and eggs for breakfast. Wicked!

“We’re going to go wide open to the last jump. Throw your lure into the ripples. Just don’t throw the rod with it.”

Then, as I graduated to landlocked salmon, and turned ten or eleven, Dad got permission from one of his patients, a woodland owner up on the St. John’s River, to use their logging roads. Short time later he also got permission for his friend, Philip Carroll, our local druggist and avid trout fisherman, to build a cabin on the river where we fished for “brookies” in the spring.

“What do you mean you forgot your tackle box???”

This was my next step along the way “learnin” to love “fishin”. Dad, Phil, and I would load whoever’s station wagon till the springs complained, full of gear and parts and pieces necessary for the ongoing cabin building and somehow always seem to find room for a 100# gas cylinder, the previous having been emptied during fall hunting. Take us all day, over through Skowhegan, up 201 to Jackman, over the border into Canada and then the dirt roads across to the Maine Border at Daquam. Be just enough daylight to unload, start a fire in the cookstove, double time down over the bank to the river, gather a mess of fiddle heads, catch enough trout for dinner, light the kero lamps and be in the bunks by 10-11. Could not possibly get any closer to heaven if you paid in gold!

“Watch the current. See that big rock. There’s usually a big one waiting for food to come by. Let your fly drift with the current, but keep some pressure on it.”

Wasn’t but the second year on the river as I recollect, fishing took a decided boost up the scale with the “brilliant” invention of the spinning reel. No more backlashes! No more flies caught in trees. I could place the bait or lure within a few feet or better of where I’d spotted a fish jump.

“Whooo. Come in off that lake!!! It’s getting dark!!!”

Two more things happened on the St. John’s trips which kept the passion cooking. One was the elders hiring a guide, Camille Beaulieu who delivered the mail for the St. John’s watershed. Camille taught me not only how to fish for Brook Trout but he taught me one of the most important lessons of all...patience. The second happening was Johnny Pottle and I being on the river one foggy drizzly morning and catching a May Fly hatch as it drifted down river. Never in extreme imagination would I have believed there could be that many trout anywhere in the entire St. John River. And they would bite anything. But when it passed........!

“Now you cut off this fin. Use that instead of worms. Trout love it.”

And now, every time I get in the boat, set a line, or gear up for off-shore, I’m still learnin’ how to love fishin’ and I do.

• R E C I P E •

From Cooking Fish and Game Francine Dufresne

Speckled Trout on a Bed of Baked Beans
“Personally she says ‘I prefer a bed of flowers’ ”

1 trout, about 2 lbs.
1 T sugar
Salt and pepper
1 small onion finely chopped Ketchup to taste
3 ½ cups baked beans (with tomatoes), or 28 oz. can

Brown the trout in a heavy fry pan with butter and onion. Place in oven proof baking dish. Add the other ingredients and place in oven at 350 deg. And bake for 40 minutes. Note: I’ll bet this would work with a filet of Steelhead Trout from the grocery store if you don’t have a 2# trout handy.


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