Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fishing Tale

When I was young I spent time at the gas station, either getting treats  when I was under 11 and working when older than 11.  Farmers and ranchers would spend some of their down time in the office sharing stories and discussing affairs that were important to them.  I had the chance to hear some of the men relate how they killed a bull elk, caught a mess of fish, or killed a bear that had been killing their cattle.  My father shared some of his stories about WWII and his exploits in the wild.  I miss that old place and the venue to tell about my ventures in the wild.

As the youngest of 3 brothers I was not as active as my oldest in hunting and fishing with my dad as my oldest brother was.  I do remember a few times that my father took me with him to go fishing.  Duck lake, up above Cubres Pass, was on such location where my father took me.  We had a great day and he demonstrated how to deliver a fly to the water in a way that did not make great ripples in the water and fooled to fish to believe a bug had landed on the water.  I caught one fish while my father caught his limit.  It was a start.

I had my own boys that needed a taste of the outdoors.  My three oldest sons were Boy Scouts and we were working on the fishing merit badge.  There is a small lake at the intersection of Bowles and Wadsworth, Johnson Lake, that was there before the metropolis closed in on it's shores.  We went fishing there with my boys using grasshoppers.  We caught some crappie and perch.  Brian, my third son, caught a duck.  His grasshopper was floating on the water and the duck swallowed it.  That was dramatic for him.  We cut the line and let the duck go, but that was a first for me.

I worked at Martin Marietta, south of Denver, by the mouth of Waterton Canyon and the South Platte River.  I rode my bicycle and ran on the road that paralleled the river.  One day I was looking in the river as I went along and saw a fish floating upside down by the bank.  I grabbed the fish wth the intent of throwing it out on the shore to let the critters eat it, but i began to struggle.  It was still alive, for a little while.  I took the fish back to work with me (I ran during the noon hour) to show my coworkers the 24-1/2" fish that weighed just over 6 poounds.  Some days later I was on my bicycle and noticed a fish that looked much the same as the previous keeping pace with the current in a hole.  I took a rock with the intent of scaring it and threw it at the fish.  It hit the fish in the head and stunned it.  The fish rolled over and rose to the top of the water.  I jumped in with both feet into the frigid water (it was early in the year, maybe February) and grabbed the fish.  It was the same size as the previous.  That year the boys and I caught so many fish that they refused to eat any more fish.

On Cumbres Pass by Trujillo Meadows there is a series of beaver dams and ponds.  There was a very large trout in one of the ponds.  He was elusive -- difficult to catch.  It happened!  My brothers and I caught Sampson.  It was an ordeal to get him onto the shore without breaking the line, so I jumped in the water and managed to grab him by the tail.  We wanted to take him home, but were to leave the next day and wanted him to stay fresh, so we devised a restraint for him.  We tied a cord to his tail and tied it a a big dumbbell shaped rock that we left on the shore.  We came back the next day and the rock was gone as was the fish.  We assumed someone or something had come and claimed him.  It was not until the next year we realized that Sampson had survived and was still in the beaver pond when we saw all the small fish with little dumbbell rocks tied their tails.


  1. I love stories that change with each telling. In my recounting of the "Sampson" story, there is a frying pan instead of a bumbell shaped rock.

  2. Oh it sounds just like one of those Vance Stories! I love the sharing.


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