While I was blogging yesterday, I visited Robin’s site at Your Daily Dose, which I thoroughly enjoy regularly. She challenged her followers to recall nonfiction stories of incidents occurring at least twenty years ago, and my mind immediately wandered to an experience I would love to share in this post.
Before relocating to New Hampshire, my wife and I lived in Vermont, a very interesting state indeed. It was there I learned to fly fish for trout, which developed into one of my passions. Fishing to me meant landing an 8 lb. 2 oz. German Brown in the Pecos River in New Mexico, or a rare hybrid Beardsley Trout on Lake Crescent in Washington State. Fishing to me meant wading into the North Platte River in Wyoming and landing 18” Rainbows all day long. Angling for Cutthroats and Brook Trout in the Gallatin River that meanders through beautiful mountain meadows in Montana makes my life worth living.
For all the fishing I have done alone, nothing tops sharing the experience with a good friend, and Tad was one of mine. We hit our share of rivers and streams in Vermont for many years, until he decided to take a job in New Jersey. New Jersey and me? Definitely not perfect together; in fact, it is a match made in a hot place. Nevertheless, Tad invited me down for a weekend of fishing. Vermonters are not conversationalists. Tad told me we would be fishing for pickerel, a species foreign to me. He simply said, “Bony. Can’t eat ‘em. Fun to catch.” I have never associated New Jersey and fish, unless one was wrapped in a vest and delivered to a non-loved acquaintance. But I missed my friend, so I decided to bite, and embarked on the seven hour drive to his new residence.
I expected Tad to live in a small cabin somewhere, but his house was actually quite out of character for him, and I suppose I could say so were his new fishing habits. We prepped our gear for the following morning’s adventure, and pickerel demanded the use of spinning reels, which is not my style. Yet, it was all about friendship, not fishing.
The next day, we left early for a lake at the base of a sand pit, which I found a little strange. We walked down the embankment, set up our equipment, attached our lures, and cast into the not-so-pristine water. There was little action for the first hour, except a few Crappies that proved more annoying than anything else. Then, it struck my line.
At first, I rooted my rear leg into the sand in anticipation of a back-breaking battle. I had some experience muskellunge fishing in Wisconsin, and some muskies are large enough to give you a ride. But this strike came to a quick halt. My rod remained bent, and I could feel a ton of what seemed to be dead weight sinking to the bottom of the lake. Thinking I was snagged, I started to reel in slowly when my prey began to swing sideways across the water. The catch was clearly alive and large, but gave me very little fight. It took but a few minutes to slowly reel in my prize, but a pickerel it was not. The gigantic sewer rat began to walk onto the sandy bank in front of us.
It took me less than a second to cut my line. As I headed up the hill toward my jeep, I could hear my loquacious fishing buddy yell out, “You gonna leave the lure?” My response was quite appropriate for a Vermonter: “Yup.”
Thinking back, God, I love Montana!
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