Offhand, I’d say it’s likely that your addiction to fishing began on trout brooks that you traveled to via the ankle express, bicycle or hitchhiking. Tell me you didn’t count the days until April 15 — opening day of brook fishing back then — and I’ll tell you I didn’t count the days until school closed. There’s no need to tell me, though, how many times during the annual countdowns you fastened a spindly reel to a slightly bent steel telescope rod with cracked agate guides. Nor do you have to tell me why.
Likewise, you repeatedly stocked the pockets of a hand-me-down U.S. Army field jacket with cards of snelled hooks, plastic boxes containing sinkers, snap swivels and spinners of silver and gold. For sure, a roll of leader material, extra line, jack knife, fingernail clippers, hook hone and a bottle of 6-12 or Old Woodsman insect repellant, though it would be weeks before you breathed a black fly. And more likely than not, a couple of plastic sandwich bags. One for carrying worms dug around sink spouts, septic tanks and manure piles, the other for holding a few April Foolish trout.
Obviously, this April is a far cry from those when, full of energy and optimism, you hiked through snowy woods to reach brooks swollen with runoff and edged with ice. Owing to indelible lessons of trial and error, you fished slowly, quietly and patiently. That is until a branch knocked your hat off and an alder snagged your line just as you eased into position to fish a favorite pool. Worse yet, in fetching the hat you stepped into a hole that filled a hip boot with honeycombed ice and muddy water so cold it felt hot.
And so it went from brook to brook and season to season until you eventually graduated to boats and bigger fish. Tell me, though, do your reminiscences of lake fishing shine any brighter than your recollections of brook fishing on long-ago opening days? Typically, those April outings didn’t produce many trout, if any. But we never went home without a limit of memories.