Teach a Kid to Fish

The Fourth of July has come and gone and I have yet to wet a line. And I live within a five minute drive of Canaseraga Creek – a well-stocked trout stream that flows through northern Steuben and southern Livingston counties. I’ve usually had a fly rod out at least a couple of times by now but not this year. The rainy spring and resulting high water made area streams unfishable during most of April and much of May. And now when I do get some spare time, I spend it trying to stay ahead of a fast-growing lawn, which of course is because of all of that rain.

If that sounds like an excuse, it probably is because in years gone by, fishing had always been a top priority with me. My father started me fishing with a cane pole, a bobber, and a worm when I was six years old and I’ve been hooked on fishing ever since. I grew up in Sea Breeze and spent my boyhood days fishing for bluegills, bullheads, and perch in Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay – once even using shrimp for bait that I swiped from the freezer at home.

I bought my first car right out of high school and it wasn’t long before I had an aluminum boat, motor, and trailer hitched up to the back of it. I’d spend my weekends at Sodus or Fairhaven Bay fishing for northern pike with live sucker chubs or at Canandaigua Lake trolling the shoreline for brown trout. My late twenties found me living just north of Canadice Lake, where I learned to catch lake trout with a Pflueger #4 single-hook spoon twisted onto the end of a hundred yards of copper wire. In later years I bought a pair of manual downriggers and trolled both Canadice and Hemlock lakes with locally-manufactured Miller and Sutton spoons for lakers.

Fast-forward to the mid-1980s, after an experimental stocking of chinook and coho salmon turned Lake Ontario into a world-class fishery. I found myself once again fishing the waters of my youth – this time as a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed charter captain aboard a 30-foot Chris Craft hardtop sedan cruiser. Festooned with five downriggers, two outriggers, two side planers, and a pair of dipsy-divers, I could troll fourteen fishing rods at one time provided there were enough licensed fisherpersons onboard to make it legal. But that was then and this is now.

My lifetime of fishing experiences has taken me from simply-basic to technologically-advanced and now I’m back to the basics again. The use of sophisticated electronic fish-finding equipment like GPS, sonar, down-temp indicator, and digi-troll downriggers was a productive but expensive way to catch fish. I had to run sportfishing charters in order to justify the $100,000 investment in boat, equipment, and operating expenses.

Over the years, I’ve hooked everything from peewee perch to monster muskies. But some of my favorite memories are of riding my bike to Irondequoit Bay as a kid with my fishing rod lashed to the handlebars. There’s an old proverb that says, “Teach a kid to fish and he’ll never get into trouble”. Not unless he swipes his mother’s frozen shrimp to use for bait the day before she’d planned to serve them for dinner, that is.


Story and Photo by John Adamski