I love to fish. From my earliest memories, I have been drawn to fishing as if a giant magnet were pulling me to the nearest stream. I grew up on an Idaho farm and was given typical farm boy jobs and chores around the corral and chicken house and garden.
When I was about six, my dad had a convention to attend in Sun Valley, Idaho. He took the family along, myself and three younger siblings. I wasn’t able to find a very good place to fish—the shallow stream behind the Ketchum motel didn’t seem to even have any fish. One evening during the week, after his meetings, Dad took us to the Wood River to fish, a bit and to see the ski lift. At the time, I had Perthese disease in my right hip and had to wear a (despicable) brace–which hampered my expeditions into the unknown.
Dad and I began fishing in the river. I fished from a rocky bank about two feet high, just behind the gravel bar bordering the river. I had a hook with worms and didn’t even get a bite. Finally, I came to a likely looking “hole” under a log jam. There was some foam in the corner of the hole as the water disappeared under the logs. I nonchalantly cast my worm into the promising little hole. I was still on top of the bank, probably some five or six feet from the water.
What happened next occurred in rapid fire succession. I felt a jerk on my line and it immediately yanked. A huge fish came flying out of the water and landed on the gravel bar two feet or so below where I was standing. The big fish was “dancing” on the gravel bar below me—but I saw that the hook was no longer attached. The fish was jumping around and was very close to flopping back into the water. I immediately jumped or half fell—I don’t know which—from the bank down to the gravel bar. In so doing, I broke my fishing pole. My leg with the brace further exacerbated the situation. However, I did have the presence of mind to somehow corral the fish just as it approached the water’s edge. I yelled for dad and he came running. Together we admired the big five pound rainbow trout. Back at the motel where were staying, it was the talk among the neighbors. My first and largest trout—I have caught a number of fine fish in my life, including some cutthroat trout almost—but not quite—equaling the size of my fist fish!
Back at the farm, I didn’t get to fish every day, but I managed to fish in the town creek (we pronounced it “crick”) several times a week. Nearest access to the creek was more than one half mile away. For transportation, I rode my bike and also rode my horse, bareback. During the long summertimes, I must have fished several dozen times—and caught nothing! However , lack of success didn’t seem to dampen my enthusiasm, much. Once, a neighbor invited me to come along. All I remember about that trip is that he kept catching Rainbow Trout, jerking them way over his head each time he hooked one.
When I was about 11, I fished the lower creek and caught a number of chubb. I didn’t know at the time what kind they were, but dutifully took them home for Mom to cook, which she did. Although those were quite bony, we ate them. I at long last had something tangible to show for my many hours at the creek.