Greatly enjoyed an ‘old-school’ fishing experience

Ron SteffeI did a favor to myself this week by spending the better part of a day on a local stream, fishing in a way I haven’t in a long time.

A week of temperatures that were best described as oppressive, finally abated courtesy of a few serious thunderstorms, which pulled behind them air with considerably less humidity that was simply refreshing.

Two days after the storms I got up early. Sitting in the half-light of a soon-emerging sun while sipping fresh coffee, I told myself to get the fishing gear and enjoy this pleasant day much the same as I would have in my younger years.

I finished the coffee, and did just that.

Soon, on the seat of my old Ford pick-up that is often my lone fishing and hunting companion, I had a lightweight spinning rod, breathable waders and wading shoes, my fishing vest, a minnow bucket and net (or seine), some lunch and water.

I headed to a little stream near home and parked along a field’s edge owned by someone I know. With the waders and shoes as my outer dress, I dipped the weighted end of the net into a sweep of current between two large and exposed rocks.

I kept the rear of the net above the water level with a piece of broken branch that supported the crossed handles to which the netting was fastened. I moved upstream 15 feet, kicked around some stones and muddied the water, then hurried toward the trap. I had hoped for just a couple of minnows, but the net rumbled with many black dace. I had all the bait I needed.

Soon I was at another much larger stream. Its stocked trout by now should be gone. But it is also a water that harbors smallmouth bass, big rock bass and wild browns.

A summer stream is so different from the spring version. Tree branches with heavy green leaves often sweep into the angler’s path. Fragrant flora fills the nose, and the water that chills early in the year  is now warmer and slower paced.

Hooking a minnow through its lips, the hook’s barb flattened, I found myself anxious to make the first cast into a deep corner hole. Within seconds the line hopped twice and tightened. I set the hook, felt a strong pull and fought a 12-inch fallfish onto the stream’s edge. Next cast a stronger fish was fighting, a smallmouth, perhaps 14 inches, quickly retreated to his lair when released.

I moved to faster water near the pool’s end and cast another minnow. A quick strike, and then a silver flash of fish. Surprisingly, a rainbow trout came to my hands, somehow a survivor of the sweltering weather. I placed him in a plastic bag with some water, and stuffed the bag and fish into a big pocket on the backside of my vest. Part of dinner perhaps.

All of the morning and into mid afternoon I stopped at holes of all type. At each I caught fish, till at the end of the outing, I had three more stocked trout in the bag.

I caught  perhaps 20 smallmouths that were no bigger than the first but not many smaller, a few wild browns that also were released, along with many rock bass, green sunfish and fallfish that I returned to their homes.

By the end of my local adventure, I carried an empty minnow bucket and broad smile.

My wife was away until the next day, so that evening I poached the trout, removed skin and bones, laid the meat on a plate, surrounded by a heap of fresh salad. I smothered the fish with a burnt butter sauce and a few spices. I placed the plate in the refrigerator for her.

When she returns and discovers the trout salad, it will please her greatly, even to the point where she may actually listen to my lengthy tale about the delight I felt on the stream and my old-school fishing adventure. But just in case she doesn’t care to hear it, I wanted to tell you.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe

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