The first day of trout season around these parts is April 1. When I hear that date come around, I’m reminded of when I was a kid, going trout fishing for the first time with my dad in Harveys Creek in Pennsylvania. Fishermen would be lined up along the creek bank, dropping their lines in the water, hoping to catch a rainbow or brown trout. I never had a lot of luck luring those fish onto my hook, but the times spent with my dad are certainly memorable.
I can still remember the anticipation of the first day of trout season as if it were Christmas. My dad would get me out of bed early in the morning and help me with my gear. Of course, I had to have my own bait box attached to my belt with some worms we had dug up the previous day. That was the extent of our fishing lure arsenal: earthworms. They were easy to find, free for the taking, and interesting to put on a hook. Some fishermen had fancy lures and other such bait, and they may have even caught more fish than we did. But it was worms for us.
As the fishing season progressed, we would move to other locales to try our luck. Sometimes we’d visit small mountain streams that you could jump across. Native brook trout called this moving water home. This was a different kind of fishing, because you literally had to sneak up on the trout, drop your line into a pool below some moving water, and wait. These brook trout were not the largest fish to catch, but they were certainly tasty to eat. Their cooked flesh was succulent with an orange hue that’s reminiscent of salmon.
In the fall of the year, my dad introduced me to hunting, particularly grey squirrels. One fall day we hiked up an old logging road next to Ricketts Glen State Park. The morning was one of those where it starts out frosty, but when the sun hits the trees, the leaves start to fall like large snowflakes. We climbed slowly up some very steep inclines to a promising stand of mast-producing hardwoods like hickories and oaks. I don’t remember if we were successful in our hunt that day, but the time spent with my father is precious to me.
My dad passed away recently and the thoughts of good times spent with him keep entering into my thoughts. He was the best man I’ll ever know, a loyal, loving and patient man. I can look back and see the times I didn’t really appreciate him for who he was, but as I raise my children and am beginning to know what it really takes to be successful with them, his example reminds me of how I should be.
Thanks for indulging me in my sentimental thoughts. Fathers and sons, go outside this spring and make your own memories.