There are few lessons more precious to us than the fishing lessons our fathers taught us years ago.
My dad’s health has prevented him from fishing with me for years, but the fishing lessons I received from him all still apply today. What makes those lessons so precious is the fact that they have been handed down from generation to generation. I can still remember my grandpa telling my dad, “When the wind is from the east, they bite the least.”
1. What to fish
Lesson one for me was learning how to make my dad’s secret trout lure. He spent years perfecting the trout lure of all trout lures. Dad claimed it caught fish when nothing else would. It was a Mepps lure that he had modified, and true to his claim, rain or shine it caught fish.
One year my dad, my mom, and my daughter Ashley went to Roaring River to fish for trout. Dad claimed even a three-year-old could catch trout with the secret lure. They fished the State Park since the grounds were kept up there and even three-year-olds could walk right up to the bank. The banks were lined with fishermen when the whistle blew making it legal to fish.
When Ashley heard the whistle, she flung my dad’s lure into a small pool just down stream from a small group of rapids. The combination of my dad’s lure and Ashley’s cherished Mickey Mouse rod worked like a charm. Many of her attempts to cast dad’s lure went only a few yards, but the lure worked, and she was catching fish. As soon as my dad would get one fish on the stringer, she would have another.
A nearby fisherman, who was having no luck with the finicky trout asked my dad if Ashley was using a Mickey Mouse rod and reel. When dad said yes, the fisherman threw his rod and reel down, threw his fishing vest down, and stomped to his truck. A little bit later his wife came and retrieved his stuff!
For some reason, that series of events validated my dad’s lure. My dad was never more proud of that crazy looking lure. To this day, I think he takes pride in causing that poor fisherman to seek professional counseling. I guess the fishing lessons of our fathers can teach us what to fish with.
2. When to fish
Dad would fish for channel cat on the mud flats of Oolagah Lake. He would only do this after the crappie would stop biting in the late spring, but never after July 4th. I have not found a logical reason for channel cat to be on the mud flats at that time, but there they were.
One night in late April, my dad, brother James, Uncle Lonnie, and Uncle Tyke were fishing the mud flats. My Uncle Lonnie had a bonfire burning brightly in no time. We were using earthworms dug from my Uncle PL’s barnyard.
We had all baited our hooks, and each sent several lines singing into the night air. As Uncle Lonnie threw another log on the fire, my brother James set the hook on something large. He fought for what seemed like 20 minutes with my dad talking him through every turn of the Zebco reel. Finally, he landed a 22-pound carp; amazing considering James weighed about 90 pounds. James has never let me forget how big that fish was.
3. How to save the secret fishing spot
Just down the river from where my dad and Ashley caught trout using dad’s secret lure, is his secret fishing spot. The water changes from shallow, slow moving water, to the deeper part of the creek. The water has a small group of rapids there, and just past the rapids is dad’s secret spot. Of course, Dad’s secret lure worked well there, but we could use most any lure and catch fish.
One year Dad took the whole family there. My wife, daughter Ashley, Mom, and Dad all made the trip. Once we parked, we had a little hike through some rough terrain and vegetation to get to the secret spot. When we made it to the water where it flattened out nice, and was easy for us all to navigate.
I was hoping to catch my first brown trout; it did not take long until I had a nice two pounder in the net. We all caught fish through the morning and up until noon. Ashley was attached to dad and together they had a limit in no time. Lunch time found us heading back up the trail, each of us with our limit of trout.
Once we arrived back to the camper, we wasted no time putting fresh trout in the grease. You really can’t beat trout cooked on an open campfire. Dad is a terrible cook, but the man can fry fish.
Dad cherishes the fact that he handed down his knowledge to his family. My brother and I still fish those secret spots, have learned to make Dad’s secret lure, and fish the mud flats up until July 4th. I guess the fishing lessons our fathers taught us still apply today.