What I want to discuss this week is trout. Now you might think trout is an awful funny subject for a column about the public library, but as a child I loved to go trout fishing in my grandmother’s brook in Litchfield County, Connecticut. And I learned how to fish for trout reading books about it at the public library.
One day at work I told my boss, Sam, that I was going to write one of my columns on trout fishing. I was very excited to tell him because he likes to trout fish, so I thought it would interest him. My boss looked down at me and smirking, said, “And just what do you know about trout fishing?” Well, I’ll tell ya that went all through me, yes, indeed, it certainly did. I might be the library girl, but that doesn’t mean I do not have a good fishing record.
My father, who passed away in January, was an avid and accomplished outdoorsman; fishing, cliff-climbing, hiking, canoeing … you name it and he could do it well. He determined early on that I was going to be outdoorsy like he was, and he also wanted me to be unafraid to try outdoor things and tough, too. So, whenever I was at the library, which was at least three times a week, I would read books on all those subjects. I also carried my dad’s old Boy Scout book around like a Bible. One book that I read talked about trout fishing. It told what kind of bait to use, what kind of pole, and to be very quiet and patient when trout fishing. It told how to clean the trout, and cook them. My brothers and I would play for hours and hours in my grandmother’s brook, called the Hollenbeck. The water was fast moving, and always cold. The only really deep spot was in the middle of some of the rocks, about three and a half feet deep. Gray rocks were everywhere, which is ideal for trout fishing; the trout love to be in and around rocks. The Hollenbeck is stocked every year with brown trout and a little trout called brookies. Brown trout are brown with a few red spots on them, and brookies are a little different color with white on the edges of their fins.
One weekend when we were out at Grandma’s house I found my Uncle Jimmy’s fishing pole in the garage. It was just a bamboo pole with fishing line and a hook on it. I grabbed that pole and ran to my dad. “Dad, I’m going to go fish in Grandma’s brook and catch a trout!” My father thought it was a good idea (he thought most anything was to keep me occupied) and ran through the basic instructions for trout fishing. The first step was worms; I had to dig for worms. So, I dug for worms, put them in a can and headed for the water. At first I was a little squeamish about putting the worms on the hook, but I had to do it now; I had already bragged to Dad I was going to land a trout. I fished for about three hours, and had to be stone quiet, something I had never done before on the brook. The air was still and peaceful, and the only sounds I could hear were the rushing waters of the brook and the wind going through the evergreens. It was such a wonderful experience that to this day I can remember it like it was yesterday.
It was just me and the trout, and boy, were they sneaky devils. It’s like the trout have a sixth sense, and know you’re trying to catch them. Over and over I would nearly have a trout and they would get only the worm off the hook. But I was determined, yes; I too was an outdoors person like my dad.
Finally! I caught one! Managing to get the trout to shore I grabbed it with my hands and ran all the way up the hill to my Dad. My Dad was pleased that I had gotten one with that simple pole. He knew how hard I had worked, but the instructions were not over. “Go clean it,” he said, “and I’ll cook him on the grill with dinner.” So, off I went back down to the brook, and remembering the book I had read at the library, I cleaned the fish and took it back to Dad, who grilled it. It was the best-tasting fish I have ever eaten.
Everyone can learn how to fish from reading a good book. Two good books at the Jasper Library about trout fishing are: “Trout Fishing,” by Joe Brooks, and “Essential Fishing for Teens,” by Ron Fitzgerald. They both make the subject come alive.
Some of the best trout fishing is in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. It certainly has been fun for me. I’m going trout fishing in the Hollenbeck this summer with my father’s sister, my Aunt Debbie.
Well, now my boss knows I’m an accomplished fisherwoman. I caught that brown trout with a pole, a line, and a hook. Now that takes raw talent! Bet you couldn’t have done that, boss.
Well, see you on Monday boss, Boss? See you Monday? Uh-oh, is it too late to get a retraction?