Sunday, March 21, 2010
Looking Forward And Remembering When
As the season of Rainbows starts to wind down at the river Blue, thoughts turn to fishing for warm water species lending me to think about pursuing pan fish, going on a crusade to capture carp, and looking forward to battling bass.
With the pursuit of these warm water species, strategies do tend to change. Compared to fly-fishing for trout, patterns selected become quite different, sizes are most certainly different, leaders are shorter for the most part and technique takes on a whole new light.
All three warm-water species mentioned make the river Blue their home, and of course without any doubt whatsoever Blue is my favorite current on the Prairie Ocean. However, with the spring and summer months come vacation times and the price of fuel always seems to skyrocket so I am inclined, and unfortunately required, to seek closer waters that offer the same fishing avenues.
Just west of the river Blue is a current on the Prairie Ocean known as Rock Creek and my life with this particular seaway of the southern plains is not only long… but also deeply etched in my memory.
As the weather continues to warm in the next thirty days or so, it will be a common sight to see me spending the lunch hour on Rock Creek. With the water being only a block or so from the workplace I can be on the water with fly in the lane in less than ten minutes. When dawn starts to show itself around the sixth hour of the morning, I’ll be right there… casting from the sandbars or shoals hoping for that hungry morning bass to slam the Miss Prissy or generic popper that I offer.
Sometimes these days it’s hard for me to imagine that I’ve spent forty plus years on Rock Creek. If I had a home away from home as a child… I guess it would have been Rock Creek. No… for sure it was Rock Creek for no other place would I spend as much time. Back then the creek, for me, was like stepping into an enchanted forest much like a character from a fairy tale would do. It was the simple wonderment of nature that drew me; beckoned me, teased me with endless curiosity.
Even through the secondary years of basic education I would find myself on the banks of Rock Creek during the lunch hour. Back then a cafeteria lunch cost less than fifty cents a day but a bologna and cheese sandwich was even cheaper so I packed my lunch. Growing up with retired grandparents we didn’t have a lot of money and there always seem to be too much month at the end of the money so we took care in how we lived. I loved those bologna and cheese sandwiches plus I was never much for standing in line like kids had to do in the cafeteria. Besides that, the cafeteria always seem to be a place for the older kids (upper classmates) to give the younger students grief and I never was much for taking grief either… so I chose the creek bank to the cafeteria.
I kept a pole and string hidden on the creek and used it to catch crawdads. A common practice of mine in the mornings before school was to borrow a slice of bacon from my grandmother’s Kelvinator. Bacon is a magical food for humans and it just so happens that crawdads like it also. I used the bacon along with the pole and string to capture crawdads, which made good fishing bait for the larger bass that cruised Rock Creek at the time.
If I wasn’t capturing crawdads then I was most likely fishing with a cane pole and bobber. No, I didn’t fly-fish back then even though my grandfather tried to introduce the art to me. He would sit a number two washtub in the front yard and have me cast to it. I wasn’t very good at all in the casting and like a lot of kids became frustrated and laid the fly rod down opting for the ease of the cane pole. In addition to my cane pole, I had a nifty 202 that my grandfather had given me as a Christmas present, but I kept it quite guarded, using it only for fishing the large stock ponds and flood controls grandfather would take me to.
Rock Creek was mostly an outdoor classroom for me and I often think I learned much more from the creek than I ever did in the stark classroom of Miss Starchdrawers. School for me was boring and pointless for the most part and I feel I learned very little in my junior high and high schools years. Not until I entered college did I find a ravenous appetite for knowledge and then it seemed I couldn’t consume enough.
Although Rock Creek was a playground and classroom for me, it was other things to other school kids. For some of them it was a place to sneak a cigarette, show off a girly magazine that had been quietly slipped from underneath their dad’s mattress, and some were as brave to show off the beer taken from the old man’s stash.
And unfortunately, Rock Creek became a testing ground to show toughness and settle disputes. Quite often two guys that had been friends when the school bell rang early in the morning somehow would decide, by the lunch hour, they didn’t want to be friends anymore and they would bring their brand new dislike for one another to the banks of Rock Creek.
With fights come the spectators, ah yes… those willing to hold the coats of the combatants. Of course the spectators were usually even divided with half rooting for their champion and the other doing the same. I generally stayed clear of the ruckus not taking sides because truly I liked and got along with the majority of kids I attended school with. I wasn’t about to root for one over another.
The pugilists would square off at each other with clenched hands held high in both defense and offense. As they circled one another... both were hoping for that punch to the nose that would most certainly put a quick end to the fight and sure enough… most of the time… that punch would come. As the blood would spew through the air, the loud clamor… that bawl of the spectators, would suddenly screech to a hush. As the quietness of the moment took front row, one combatant would take a knee in capitulation while the other, with hands still held high, would stand in victory… suddenly realizing that nothing had actually been won.
Slowly the crowd would dissipate; students going back to the school system proper; taking their places in the classroom where they would blend with the blandness of the classroom walls.
Once the spectators left I would usually stay behind to explore my wonderland a bit more before returning to the place I was required to be.
Rock Creek held many adventures for me as a kid and one of my favorites was a day I met a dog on the way to the creek.
Next time I’ll share with you the story of a dog named Boy.