confessions of a bad kid...

ed from bama

Well-known member
Messages
184
Reaction score
438
Location
south Alabama
Well, maybe not such a bad kid.
This all happened long, long ago- over fifty years, to be accurate, so surely the statue of limitations is in effect for my bad behavior. But I sometimes feel that confession for a particular crime I committed needs to be expressed. I hope you readers will consent to be my confessors. I hope you will forgive me. I assure you all, I have forgiven myself.

I grew up in Arkansas, and that really isn't of any importance except that in Arkansas of those long-gone times, fishing regulations were lax and limits of fish basically amounted to "when you got all you want, that's your limit." We're talking about bream and bass and catfish here. that was my mindset when it came to fishing.

When my parents told me during the summer of my tenth year that we were visiting relatives in the mountains of northern California, I was moderately interested. So we made the long, hot pre-airconditioned drive across America on Route 66 and finally made our way to the relatives' home- a small town with of all things, a clear, cold creek flowing right through town.

I asked my uncle if there were fish in the creek, and he assured me there were trout in the stream- I had heard about trout, even seen photos of them- looked kind of attractive to me. I asked my uncle if I could try to catch some trout. He smiled at me and told me he had an old fly rod I could use and to be careful and not fall in- that snow-melt water was cold.

I crawled and popped brush to the creek, and there before me were the remains of some sort of dam someone thought would be of use back in the past. A deep pool was washed out below the dam, and the water rolled and back-washed in a way that suggested to me that if fish were in this creek, then they just ought to be here below this dam. Now, you won't believe this, readers, but on the leader of this fly rod was some sort of little ragged looking bug tied on a little-bitty hook. And I didn't even think to ask where I could dig some worms for bait.

So despite my anger at being so forgetful to not even take a can of worms fishing, I decided to drop that bug on the water. So I pulled out about six feet of line and sort of flipped the bug out below the dam- the same way I flipped worms on my cane pole back home. This was not easy. There were overhanging tree limbs and flood-brush everywhere. but the bug went out, dropped to the surface, and there was a flash, and a pull and if I'm lying, I'm dying- there was a trout in my hand. It was not a big trout, but it was a trout. I put the trout, which I thought was quite pretty, on a stick, and I went fishing again.

Remember, I came from Arkansas, and the Arkansas concept of limits was bred into me. I caught- and kept- those six to eight inch trout until in my excitement I let the ugly little bug on the leader fly up behind me and snag way up high in a limb, and I broke the leader trying to get it back. Fishing was over. So I gathered up my catch and headed back. Must have had twenty or so little trout.

When I walked in so proud of my catch, my uncle stared and then gave me a stern talking to about the importance of limits and why what I had done was wrong. I listened, but I thought he was being silly. Later, my father told me my uncle was just mad because he never caught that many trout at one go in his life.

But I assure you, good readers, every bit of evidence of that juvenile crime I committed was cooked up and devoured- those fresh little trout were delicious- so even if I'm still liable for this misdeed, I don't think there's any way evidence will be found.

There now. I feel better having confessed my sin to you. I reckon to attone for my sins: tomorrow I may go stand in the hot sun and wave another fly rod in the air with an ugly little bug on the end of the leader. And I'm sure I'll feel better about things.

you all be safe and keep well-Ed
 

Oregonipa

Well-known member
Messages
70
Reaction score
75
Location
Oregon
I had a similar experience when I was about 14. Growing up, I split my time between Wyoming and Utah. 99% of my fishing was in Wyoming and it was normal for me to keep a fish or two and my Mom would cook them for dinner. I was excited to make a friend in Utah who had a river running through their backyard. One day I rode my bike down there and we fished for a bit. One fish was placed in my creel to be taken home for dinner. About the time I was leaving, my friend's Dad showed up and when he realized I had taken a fish, he gave me a small piece of his mind. It's funny how that has stuck with me. Even though the river was public and I didn't violate any regulations, I still feel guilty for taking that fish and I've hardly taken any since.
 

ed from bama

Well-known member
Messages
184
Reaction score
438
Location
south Alabama
Good evening to all-
Davitticus, Brother, I appreciate the forgiveness, but to be honest, I prefer to keep some of my sins- several of them, actually. I don't want ALL of my sins washed away. Just the ones I don't care about any longer.

I will cry "Mea culpa, Mea maxima culpa" to some of the bad deeds I have done- even if they were done in ignorance. But so much of what I do and have done is through ignorance...

You all be care and keep well-

Ed
 

Unknownflyman

Well-known member
Messages
3,761
Reaction score
1,549
Location
L'Étoile du Nord
Ed,

I enjoyed your writing and it brought me back to a different day, one long ago with one of the good old timers who lived long enough to teach me to fish, chew snuff, drink a beer, have coffee and play cribbage.

Things were different then, my grandfather is the person who I'm talking about, He grew up on a farm in rural central Minnesota, took a team of horses and a wagon into town, which was no easy task as a child. Tales of growing up fast, never ending hard work and survival in the early 1900`s and of course the stories of the Great Depression, tramping and taking the Model A to Washington state to try to work picking apples, working on any farm for food and a few cents for gas to make it to the next town.

He spoke of his homemade warm raccoon coat that they trapped off the farm and mom sewing winter clothes and how it saved his bacon on those 40 below days traveling many miles on a cow path to town.

They hunted, trapped and fished, there was no DNR and if you took time away from work, you better have something to show for it. A deer, a bear, some walleyes or panfish, or spearing suckers in the spring and spearing northern pike through the ice.

You made hay while the sun shined. I grew up learning how to can vegetables from grandma, garden with my grandparents, work, fish, hunt and pray, even if I didn't believe it. Pay your respects.

I forgive you Ed, but what's to forgive? I learned the same as you way up here in the north. Life changed for them and for us, My grandfather was not a poacher, but well, he wasn't always happy with the yearly limits either and the woods police. When you are out ice fishing on the ice and its 20 below, you better fill the pail. And the very few pictures he had, old black and white pictures of ropes between trees and 50 or more pike and walleye of giant sizes hanging on a rope. He knew what happened to those fish over the years and why the fishing was not the same but around here there's always another lake, river or pond. The cry of You'll never cut down the north woods, You'll never shoot all the elk and deer, You'll never fish out these lakes was an all too familiar cry across the north and across the United States.

One time we were really catching fish ice fishing, and I knew the limits, he taught me, and I was young, we had walleye, pike, bass, sunfish, crappies
I said Grandpa don't we have enough and he said, You just let me worry about that. I said no more.

Wonton waste was a big deal to grandpa, NO waste, I learned how to clean fish perfectly at a very young age, and I got yelled at for any waste on those fish carcasses. We would clean fish for hours. So many hours cleaning fish in my lifetime.

I learned too over the years, the transition from the all important limits every time out, to maybe just take one for a meal, to the radical Idea of catch and release. What we let them go? We let them all go? or in other rivers, We cant keep and fish here? Why fish here?

Fishermen today still wrestle with the idea.

The progression from survival to sport and very limited harvest and catch and release only has allowed us all good fishing, and to experience some of the old days and perhaps, our stories will pass on, and what we learned from the pioneer days onward.

We are the sons and grandsons of the pioneers. My mom didnt grow up with running water or a indoor toilet until she got a job in town and rented with her friend. That wasn't that long ago, early 1950`s? I `ll have to ask here specifically what year that was. I couldn't even imagine that.

Well that's enough for now Ed, thanks for the memories.
 
Last edited:

COTater

Well-known member
Messages
410
Reaction score
433
Location
Grand Junction, CO
I too, grew up very similar.

My grandad had a small farm / ranch. We raised our own livestock, grew our own produce, etc. We slaughtered/processed our animals and canned our veggies and fruit. We hunted and fished for the rest of our meat. My grand parents were depression babies and WWII vets.

I grew up in a very modest life, not a lot of money to go around and hard work means everything.

My Grandad was not a fly fisherman and he only fished with bait for Catfish. So everyday in the summer after all the ranch chores were done, we would go and sane for baby bluegills and hit the Colorado river to catch some very large channel catfish. We would catch 3 or 4 that would fill a cooler, go back to the barn and skin/fillet them for the freezer so we would have catfish for the winter. I really miss those days with him.

In the fall/winter we would hunt doves, ducks, geese, pheasants, rabbits & mule deer. We would process all of this on our own and we ate everything we killed or kept.

As mentioned by another person above, my grandad was not a poacher but he too would take a few fish over the limit, a few birds over the limit and if needed, a deer over the limit if we were in need of meat for the family for the winter. We even helped a few local families that were on hard times by taking an extra doe for them so they too could feed their families.

Growing up this way, I learned how to be a conservationist in a way. How to take care of the land, what game management means and life in general. It definitely made me a better human being. That being said - I am far from perfect, have made mistakes in my youth that I wish I could take back. But in the end, I turned out alright.

I still hunt doves from time to time but gave up on waterfowl. Not too many pheasants where I live anymore but I really miss that. I hunt archery every fall, primarily for Elk now-a-days. But I still go to many places that my grandad took me, for the memory mostly.

The house that my wife and I built is ironically very close to my grandads favorite catfishing hole. The catfish are much smaller now and I only fly fish for them but several times per summer I go down there and keep a few good ones for some fresh catfish dinner.

That was a great life for me, gave me the love for the outdoors and life skills that few young people today have. Life was very simple back then and it wasn't too many years ago.
 
Last edited:
Top