When my son Lee, now 40, was nine years old he and a friend would often go to down to the Choconut Creek on hot summer afternoons to catch crayfish. The water was ankle deep and the two boys would spend hours overturning rocks and netting the scuttling crawdads. Sometimes we’d use them for bait but most of the time the pair would just return them to the water. One day a passing newspaper photographer saw the boys wading in the creek catching bait and stopped to photograph the action. The photos of my son and his friend were published in the local newspaper and forever have a place in a family scrapbook.
I was recently reminded of that day 30 one years ago when Lee, who was visiting from Charlotte, N.C., with his family announced “I’m taking Luke and Julia to the creek to catch some crawfish.” Luke is my nine-year-old grandson and loves the outdoors. Julia is a year older and is always up for an adventure.
Lee, Luke and I were scheduled to meet my brother the next day for a day of fishing on the Susquehanna River and I figured the crayfish would make excellent bait. My only concern was the flood that ravaged our area last September might have changed the creekbottom enough so that any stream life was destroyed and that nothing flourished there anymore. If the flood waters didn’t do it then the bulldozers used to clean up the flood debris might have done what the raging water couldn’t. It remained to be seen what lay ahead.
I needn’t have worried. After giving them about an hour head start while I tended to some business at home, I went to the creek to see how my bait catchers were making out. “Grandpa, we caught 12 crayfish,” the two chimed in chorus. That was great news for them and for the creek. I’m sure the minnows and small bass that were there before would also return in time and I felt good about the creek’s prospects for recovery. I don’t know if I ever caught a smallmouth from the Susquehanna River that didn’t have several crawfish in its stomach and I hoped the crayfish Luke and Julia caught would be very tempting to the fish the next morning. However, regardless of the outcome of our fishing trip, I knew my grandson would remember both days for a long time because there’s something about catching critters living under rocks that appeals to the little kid in all of us.