Bait Dunkers and Hardware Chuckers

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Bait Dunkers and Hardware Chuckers

OK, OK, OK… Mercy, I will admit guilt.  Years ago when I moved from Santa Fe to Silver City I figured my Fly Fishing days were pretty much over.  Long gone were the days of fishing midges on the “Juan” or fishing the awesome stone fly hatches on the Pecos or even ripping wooly buggers thru the now fish-less McAllister Lake.   At the time I thought that the SW part of the State was just a bunch of “Put and Take” fisheries that were hammered by “Bait Dunkers and Hardware Chuckers”, my visit to my local sporting good store seemed to support that idea.  The shelves were stocked with enough bait to choke a shark and enough hardware to fix a engine that had thrown a rod.  I didn’t see any size 20 RS-2 or even a size 10 Red Humpy.  I would also say that 20% of the hardware I saw was bigger than half of the fish I had caught in the Jemez.  Hmm…  Nothing says culture shock like a cold-water fisherman in a warm-water fishery.

So I did what any Trout Fisherman would do, I cried and I started chasing Coues Deer with my bow. Quick and Painless.

Recently, our son has become old enough to be focused enough to have just enough ability to just have enough of a chance of catching a fish. So, I swallowed my pride and came up with a plan to take B fishing. I first had to dust off all my old spinning tackle and piece together enough terminal tackle to have a chance catching a stocker trout at Lake Roberts.  It took a couple of hours of digging thru old guide boxes and even a few bags of tackle that I have no idea where they came from but I was able to pull it off.

My plan was to toss some power bait and pray that Jesus really was a fisherman and that he would have mercy on my soul and help us catch a fish for B.

So one day after school we loaded up the rig and headed to the lake.  As usual it was crazy windy and feeding was probably the last thing on the fishes mind; they were probably laying low trying to stay out of the choppy water but you can’t fish from the couch, so there we were.  B and I tossed out one line so he could see how we would be fishing and AFTER I moved my truck to a safe distance we worked on his casting on the shore.  I had rigged up a Zebco 202 with the biggest weight I could find and attached a strike indicator to the end of the line.  That strike indicator had last seen service on the “Juan”, oh how times have changed.

Letting him become familiar with the setup I let him chuck and I ducked.  It worked out OK and he seemed to be enjoying himself so I just let him try and hit spots in the parking lot.  You know the kind of targets; Coke cans, Copenhagen cans, Americans and even a few Mexicans.  After awhile his child attention span kicked in and he wanted to try something different so we moved to a point on the lake, recast our rods and proceeded to try and find something to eat.  After all eating and snacking is an important part to fishing, right?

One of his favorite meals in the mountains are MRE’s I am not real sure why other than the little heater really entertains him.  So we warmed up is Beef Stew something or another and he proceed to “CHOW DOWN”.   While he ate the main meal I slurped down the little drink packet that was in the MRE package.  I am not sure what flavor it is but it taste like a cross between ants and bug killer.. GOOD STUFF.  It also tastes the same whether you add 8 oz of water or 32 oz.  I am not sure how that happens and I am probably better off not knowing.

After our meals, the wind died down and my praying started.  When I fish I really don’t feel the pressure but when I am trying to help others catch fish it is an entirely different story.  We didn’t need a smart fish or a good looking fish or even a big fish, I just need ANY fish to swallow his bait.  I don’t care if it was a one-eyed, no-fin Mexican Mud Fish…. I just needed something to keep this kid engaged.

There is a saying fishing the evening is always better than fishing in the morning because fishing will start out good in morning but it will slowly get slower and slower… BUT when you fish the evening the fishing will always get better and better until you can’t see any longer.  I tend to believe that,  I also don’t like to wake up early to go fishing so that allows me to sleep a little longer.  As the sun start to get low on the horizon the swallows started to buzz around and I start to see a few boils in the lake.  At first I confuse them with the diving of Mud Hens but sure enough trout were starting to move.  B was off collecting bottle caps and I told him to stay close just in case…. “FISH ON, B YOU HAVE A FISH”….

I don’t think I had ever seen that kid run so fast, well there was that time with the snake that we were going to make a hat band out of but that is a different story.

If you have ever tried to help a first time fisherman, this is the hard part.  You have taught them how to rig, how to cast and how to reel but short of attaching the fishing line to our little dog Bean there is no way of showing someone how to fight a fish.  At first B had the rod upside down and was reeling with the wrong hand but we got that worked out and he started reeling that thing in like a champ.  As he pulled the fish to the surface, he did the almost predictable rookie landing technique, once he saw the fish he stopped reeling, and he started back-peddling.  Before I knew it he was just about in the drivers seat of the truck and still moving.  I was able to somehow to communicate to him to stop running and start reeling again.

What happened next is pretty much a blur but I know that it included; fins, elbows, knees,a punch to the gills and a “tap out” with a fin but after everything was said and done we had the fish attached to one side of the stringer and B attached to the other side.

Here is a quick video of B’s reaction… “Yeah,Baby”

The lesson learned is that it really doesn’t matter if you are using bait, hardware or flies at the end of the day it is about getting outdoors and enjoying experiences with the ones you love.   To a kid it doesn’t matter if it is 20-20, a 20 inch trout on a size 20 fly, all they care about is being outside and being on the water.  Was I wrong to try and classify levels of fisherman and fish?  Absolutely, I am man enough to know when I wrong….

Tight Lines and Stiff Rods


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