by Uncle Wes, March 01, 2004
It was a cool crisp morning as I approached the creek to try for my season opening trout. The sun was starting to come up, the dew on the grass, and the smell of the cool crisp clean air sent my mind reeling back to my youth. As I approached the water I could here the gentle gurgling of the water as it swept past me, I found myself thinking of the first time I had ever fished this body of water as a youth. Although it was many years ago it seemed like almost yesterday that I stood in this same spot with my father learning how to read the water and drift that worm in just the right manner to entice the trout into taking my offering. The memories were so thick I could just swipe them from in front my face, it was like yesterday all over again.
As I baited my hook and approached the water in my stealth mode I thought I could here my father voice coaching me all over again. “ Alright son take your time, read the water, where are they laying?” Just then I noticed the run just above a nice deep hole, I crept up until I found the perfect spot to work this run. I made my first cast and let it drift right thru the prime spot of the run to end up in the hole, bang fish on. I set the hook and started playing this little scraper. It was like I could still here him coaching me, “take your time son play him out”. A few moments had passed and as I got him closer to the bank I could see the brilliant red band running down his side, it was a nice 12” rainbow. I brought him in closer until I could reach down and remove the hook and send him to freedom to fight another day. Then I heard that voice again full of praise “ nice fish son, you worked him perfect”. I paused to reflect on this moment before I started moving along the creek to look for another nice run to work.
I moved ever so quiet, like I was walking on air when I came across a spot that was all too familiar to me. As I stood there and looked at this spot I could see my dad working this run, he had a style of his own and I don’t ever think I’ve seen anyone else that ever seemed like he was a part of the creek, it was like he belonged there, this was his haven that he knew all to well. I moved into position so I could work this run and paused for just a moment to enjoy this secret sanctuary. I made my first cast and came up short of where I wanted it to be, I brought it back in and tried once again and still didn’t get it exactly where I wanted it. When like a flash, my memory started working and I could see him working that spot then I heard the voice again “son flip it in back handed and work the cut close to the bank and let the water do the rest”. I then backhanded in and it was perfect right under the branches into the current that pushed it right into the hole, oops there was a little strike. I brought it back in and gave it another backhanded cast it was perfect as it drifted ever so naturally into the hole, bang this time it was a good solid strike.
I set the hook and the fight was on, the line was singing as this beautiful trout made his run. I played him out for what seemed to be several minutes when I got my first real good look at him he was a lot bigger than the first one, he measured out to at least 16”. I brought him in closer and reached down to remove the hook and I just had to admire this one as I turned him loose he laid there for a moment and then took of like a shot back into the current from which I had just brought him from. I tried a few more casts into the run with no luck and then I took a deep breath of that fresh air and listened to the birds singing in the background. As I turned to move to another the spot I could here his voice again “this is what it’s all about son, take it all in and enjoy this tranquility”. I looked off into the distance and could see two deer drinking from the creek as they walked to the other side. I went back into my stealth mode and worked my way down the trail and thru the brush until I reached another good spot that is if my memory served me right.
Yeah, this is the place. The largest trout I ever caught out of this creek was right in this very spot. It was like a double run that ended up in real nice hole. As I got ready to start working this run I noticed the sun peeking thru the leaves and glistening off of the water, like a diamond necklace under a spotlight, it was breath taking. I started working the first part of this run and made several casts and watched as the worm drifted so naturally into the hole but got nothing. I then positioned myself just right so I could work the far side of this double header and on the first cast it made the drift about half way and I had a good solid take. I set the hook and off he went, he turned his body into the rushing water and the reel was singing one more time. Now he probably went 50 yards and made it into the rapids when I could here my dad saying “ alright son, you are going to have to go after him if you want this one”. So off I went keeping the line tight and putting just enough pressure on him so as not to give him a chance to go free. I must have chased him for at least 300 yards and finally got him out of the rapids and worked him close to shore where I removed the hook and watched him swim off.
I thought to myself that was amazing. I haven’t had this much fun for years and then I thought again, it’s been years since I’ve been back here. Well I knew I had some more time to work this all to familiar creek. I was hoping that this old friend was willing to give me the pleasure of just one more trout. So I started working my way around the trail and through the brush to find that one spot that would give me just one more opportunity to hook up. I walked for about 10 minutes and spied the perfect spot. I dropped my pack on the bank and started to get myself in position being ever so careful not to alert the fish that I was in the area. When out of the corner of my eye I saw a bright silver flash, when I heard the old man again. “ Did you see that? It’s a beauty, you are going to have to work this one good to get him”. Don’t worry pop I’m up to it, I thought to myself. I let my first cast go and bang the fight was on. I knew this guy was big he came out of the water 3 or 4 times and made several runs on me. I must have fought him for at least 10 minutes until I finally got him in close enough to take the hook out, at least a 24” steelhead, must be a late running winter run. I turned him loose and was in amazement at what a day I had.
I started looking around for a spot to eat my snack and came across our favorite spot right under this old oak tree. To be honest with you I was surprised to still see it standing there after all these years. This was the very spot we sat and took our breaks and discussed the morning’s events so long ago. As I emptied my pack and poured myself a cup of coffee I listened to the breeze rustle through the leaves, it was so relaxing I could almost take a nap. I poured myself another cup of coffee and started drinking it when I noticed a father and his son working the creek together, I must have watched them for 15 minutes or so when I checked my watch and it was that time. I had to get going and head for the house. As I packed my gear away in my pack I heard the voice of my dad one more time. “ Well son it was a great morning, I hoped you enjoyed yourself”. Yeah pop I did, thanks a lot. This article is dedicated to my father 1936-1976, Thanks Pop.