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Rated: E · Article · Action/Adventure · #2254950
A Fishing Tale
Teenage Poacher ~1~

By Dave Finkelstein ~2~

When I was the age of 15 my parents decided to take a cross country trip from Northern New Jersey to the west coast. As all trips planned by my father it would encompass camping at state parks, KOA campgrounds and other various places one would park for the night. On this trip he decided to purchase a very small trailer for two people being my mother and himself while my cousin Robert (age 14) and myself had the pleasure (often displeasure) of sleeping under the stars or our pup tent. My father knew that I loved fishing and often planned our evening lodgings at places that had streams and lakes to keep my cousin and myself occupied while mom and dad set up camp. ~3~

Driving across America may sound exciting to many of you but at 55 mph its very boring. We saw endless wheat fields followed by corn fields followed by well you get the picture. There were side trips to many places like Mount Rushmore and the home of Abraham Lincoln but more importantly we stayed at places like Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and other magnificent places on our month and a half trip across the country. On our way back to the east coast my dad took us through a high mountain pass in Colorado which brought us to a tiny town called Tent Sleep. It was a one road town adjacent to a roaring river. On one side of the road was the river lined with sage bush on both sides.On the other side of the road were railroad tracks. The ranchers would drive their sheep and cattle to this town to load on a train to go to market. Yup, it was western as you’re going to get. As we pulled into town and found a camp ground next to the river. I was excited as I could possibly be with the opportunity of catching a wild trout. ~4~

The river flow was so fast that if someone was to fall in you probably would drown pretty quickly. As soon as we parked the car I was grabbing my fishing gear and heading towards this roaring river with high hopes of catching a big one. At this point in our cross country journey I was pretty low on fishing lures and my fishing reel was made by Southbend. Not exactly quality gear by the standards of that time but with rod and reel in hand and cousin Robert in tow we looked for an opening on the river bank free from the sage bush lining the banks as if it was a fenced barrier. As I peered up the river I grew more excited as trout were leaping out the water for the evening hatch of bugs seemingly everywhere in view.The sun was quickly going down over the Rocky Mountain Pass and my time to fish drawing to a close when I spied a bridge upstream crossing the river. Quickly, I ran to the bridge and positioned myself over the middle of the river’s flow and dropped my spinner into the water. The swiftness of the current carried my lure downstream with uncontrolled speed and I quickly turned the handle on my reel to close the bail arm. I could not have turned the handle on the reel more than two or three turns when my fishing rod took a major bend nearly yanking the rod from my hands. As I gazed up and looked downstream a behemoth Dolly Varden trout rose out of the water with my spinner lure hooked in its jaw. My cousin saw the fish at the same time as I had and started wildly yelling “ it’s a monster!” He ran off the bridge and chased it downstream to get a better look at it. Line was screaming off my reel and I could barely hold the fishing rod under the weight of the fish and the speed of the water’s current. The fish jumped again and then the unspeakable. The bail arm on my Southbend reel popped off the reel allowing my fishing line to fly off the reel with wild abandon. I placed my hand over the top of my reel to stop the line from exiting my reel and fumbled to get the bail arm back on. I managed to get the reel to function and turned the handle with hope that my trophy fish was still on my line ? At first I was relieved to have tension on the line but it didn’t feel the same as when the fish first striked my lure. Something was not right . I continued to reel my line in but was soon to see the cause of my reel mishap outcome. I was reeling in a piece of sage brush root. The trout had wrapped itself several times around the root and had broken the line for it’s freedom. I was deeply depressed as was my cousin. Night had fallen on us as we walked off the bridge and down the road. Up in the distance there was the back of a billboard sign. Lighting glowed from the front side of the billboard and as we came into full view of the illuminated billboard we read STATE OF COLORADO FISH HATCHERY ALL TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULL EXTEND OF THE LAW. When we got back to camp my father asked if I caught any? And with a smile on my face looking at my cousin Robert said “ Nope, not a thing”. ~5~

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