Swish, thump! Out came a ten-inch beauty.

The Thrills Prove Chiefly to Be in the Anticipation – Farmers’
Minds Seem Hopelessly Confused on Some Things, But One of Them Breaks All the Traditions of Trout Fishing and Catches Three Beauties in Ten Minutes.

By Gregory Clark, May 29, 1920.

When you go trout fishing, take along a good supply of magazines, novels, an indoor baseball outfit and a ouija board.

For, about 2.30 o’clock of the afternoon of your first day on the fishing ground, you will begin to yearn for one or the other of the above forms of recreation.

Trout fishing consists, in the finer aspects, of anticipation and retrospection. There is no finer thrill than in picking early spring model fishworms in your backyard and visioning the swift stream and the flashing speckled jewel you will catch with each squirming wormlet. The planning, the talking it over, poetically, dramatically, with your friends, the packing, the first railway journey of the season – Ah! It is romance!

And the telling of it afterwards. In June, the eleven poor little trout you caught have multiplied to twenty-five. By midsummer, they are, fifty speckled beauties. By autumn, when a sportsman is at his best, from a literary point of view, that stingy little eleven has grown to many creels-full, with a whacking big realistic, dramatic lie attached to every fish.

There are three trout streams to the average trout expedition. The first is the brook you had in mind when you started on the trip. It is fished the first day, when enthusiasm is still high, and before the truth of the old adage about anticipation has sunk in. This first stream, the scene of all your spring dreams, yields three small trout of doubtfully lawful size.

The second stream is the one about four miles away which the natives inform you is full of fish. You visit it the second day, and after landing five three-inch chub, in one hour, you retire to a sunny bank and wait for the gang to re-assemble.

The third type of stream is the fabulous brook in which trout under one pound in weight are seldom if ever caught. The farmers and residents assure you that it is the real thing in trout streams But it is ten miles inland. And its a dirty and difficult stream to fish.

This third type renders up not even a chub. It runs cold and swift, full of dark, log-bound holes where beautiful trout should be lurking. But the most skilful sneaking of your bait in under these shadowy pools results in merely hooking a log.

At least, this was our experience up Lake of Bays way last week-end. We aren’t grouching, understand. We had our share of sport in planning, in the thrill of the journey, the arrival at Huntsville at 2 a.m., and the departure by boat from Huntsville at the still frostier hour of 7 a.m. But we hadn’t along any magazines or baseball kit.

The trout fisherman is advised to fish in the parts of the stream hardest to get at, because the easier places have been fished out. We tried that. We fought through acres of underbush and swamp and then found our rods were too long. They caught the line on all kinds of unexpected twigs. It is all nonsense to say that trees have no intelligence. After one day’s trout fishing, anyone who would say that all those branches grew where they were merely by chance is lacking in spiritual perception. Trees, especially alders, have a sense of humor, too.

Well, well! So we shortened our rods, and then found we couldn’t reach the best holes. About then, we began to yearn for a snappy detective story.

The confusion in the minds of the farmers and residents in the trout neighborhood is alarming. In the same family, father will say it is too cold for the trout to bite; son will say, it is too warm. At one farmhouse on the third or fabulous stream, where we were to get nothing but, one-pounders, the farmer said the trout hadn’t come up from the lake yet, and five minutes later, his wife assured us that the trout hadn’t come down from the spring sources yet.

Over near Baysville, I fished the second day until I had landed four chub out of a 500-yard stretch of creek. Not a trout did I flush. Not a fingerling. So I retired to a sunny bank and smoked, awaiting the gang’s return.

Down to the corduroy bridge came a young farmer and his small boy and a dog.

“Gettin’ any?” he asked, amiably.

“No. Not biting to-day. Too cold” I replied.

“Well, I’m counting on a couple for supper,” said he.

From behind a stump, he drew from concealment a seven-foot alder pole with a hook and line on it. Out of his vest pocket he produced a worm. The little boy scampered up and down the creek, peering and yelling into the pools I had so warily stalked. The dog excitedly followed the boy, barking at the creek. Dad threw his bait in and – swish, thump! Out came a ten-inch beauty. In 40 yards, be performed this deed three times, whistled for his boy and his dog, replaced his pole in hiding, bade me good evening and went home to a trout supper.

As soon as he was out of sight, I arose from the sunny bank and fished that stream inch by inch, carefully, carelessly; sneaking up to it one time, and standing boldly exposed the next; even yelling like a small boy and barking like a dog. But all I got was one pallid chub.

Where’s the sense in this, anyway?

However, the second phase of trout-fishing, retrospection, sets in early. When we got on the boat to go back to Huntsville, the purser asked us if we had any luck. And without collusion and nary a blush, we jovially assured him we had never had better sport, and we led him to believe our hand-bags were full of trout. By the time we reached the town, among the forty-odd passengers, we were pointed out as ardent trout experts returning from the kill. And thereupon began to form in our minds next autumn’s thundering tales of grand battles amid the alder groves of gleaming brooks.

At the hotel in Huntsville, we found two Presbyterian ministers standing beside a wooden box that was leaking water on the floor. They had ordinary 50-cent brass-jointed bamboo rods tied with string.

We manoeuvred into converse with them.

“Fish?” we asked, glancing at the big leaky box.

“Yes,” they said. “Speckled trout. We only had a couple of days, and we only got seventy. And now, it the ice doesn’t hold out, we’re afraid they might spoil.”

They were ministers. We had to believe them.