Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Very First Trout

All I had was an apple and a bit of kibble for Maya. I was finally at a lake full of trout, but now I had no rod and reel.

I left Maya tied at camp to rest. Her pads had suffered on the sharp cinders and limestone. I hoped the lake would have crawdads to sustain us until I could devise some sort of fish trap or snare. Crawdads have a lot more meaat than grasshoppers. It was the weekend and there were quite a few people fishing the lake. I picked my way among the rocks, looking for a place where I would not disturb anybody.

I came to a small beach where somebody had discarded a good deal of tangled line. The monofiliment stretched out into the water and lay in curled masses among the rocks of the shore. I tested the line and it seemed strong. It hadn't been there long enough to suffer from the sun. I hauled it in, winding it around my left hand. There was a hook on the end. I smiled. I was right where I was supposed to be. The Universe provides.

It didn't take me long to catch a crawdad. I removed their tails and tossed them back into the water. A crawdad can grow a new tail or claw, if it isn't eaten in the meantime. I snapped the tail meat out of the shell and, once hooked firmly, used it to catch several more crawdads.

There was a Mexican family of six or more fishing about a hundred feet further along, and I had garnered their attention with my activities. It looked like three generations. There was the old padre and his sons fishing. The grandchildren played along the bank. The women sat in the shade with the coolers, tending to the young and dispensing beer according to the gender roles of their culture. Budweiser for the men, and Bud Light for the women. The eldest male, like an Elk or Javelina, had moved to a position between myself and his family. He kept one eye on me at all times.

Once I had about a half dozen crawdads, I tied a small twig to my line about 18 inches from the hook. I needed weight in order to reach the deeper water. I uncoiled the line from my hand and laid it loosely in the sand at my feet. I swung the line above my head, in ever increasing circles like a lariat and let fly. My bait made it about thirty feet out. I sat to wait and hope. Glancing at my neighbors to the south, I saw the old father chuckle and point at me while calling to his sons in Spanish. There was laughter from the women.

It probably only took me five minutes to catch the first trout of my entire life, this of course, was after a few nibbles I failed to set. Trout are tricky fish, wary and wily. I had a lot to learn. Another half hour and I had three, ranging from 12-16 inches, with a forked stick through their gills to hold them. The Mexicans had not caught a thing. By now the head of the neighboring family had sent the kids scrambling at the bank for crawdads. It was my turn to chuckle. I wound my new fishing gear around a discarded beer can, smiled and waved goodbye to my neighbors. I think we all learned something. Maya and I would eat well tonight and I had higher hopes for survival and success. The kibble would keep for another day.

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