The first day of fishing season was a huge event where we lived. Nestled in our little Valley, the creeks were well known as some of the best fishing streams in the state. The fresh water streams flowed down from the mountains across large rocks with occasional deep ‘holes’ that provided excellent habitats for Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout.
My father was an excellent fisherman and a talented fly fisherman. He could make a ‘fly’ (artificial lure) dance on the water. The idea is to make the lure look like a natural insect to the fish causing them to rise to the surface and grab the fly. My brother soon learned the same skill and remains an excellent fisherman to this day.
Houses in our Valley were usually built along the creek’s edge so we were always aware of the habits of fish and spotting them as we walked along the creek banks was not difficult if you knew where to look. There were always the elusive big fish that the local fishermen watched until fishing season opened.
We were not trophy fishers. We ate what we caught. We learned to ‘clean’ a fish early on. By examining the content of a fish’s stomach you could see what they were feeding on. A boon to the fisherman as he could bait his hook accordingly.
Wild streams are not stocked meaning they are NOT populated with fish from state hatcheries. Stocked streams are repopulated throughout the year with fish from local hatcheries. As a kid, my father often took us to the hatcheries to ‘feed’ the fish. These hatcheries were squeaky clean, in beautifully maintained and well-filtered cement pools. My dad would buy ‘food pellets’ from the park rangers for us to feed the fish. I was amazed at how many fish were there.
The Valley had two creeks that flowed together – one was wild stream and the other a wild stream that was also stocked from the hatcheries. Fishing season did not open until the stocked fish had a chance to acclimate to their new environment allowing them their best chance for survival. The buildup to the first day of fishing season was palpable. It was a big day for sure.