By Chris Henderson
You know, one of the favorite activities of outdoor folks, male and female, young and old, is to talk about outdoor memories. I know I love doing that. However, not all outdoor memories are good ones. This week, I am going to focus on some bad memories, some of which are not even funny in hindsight. Let’s get started. These are not in any particular chronological order.
The first one took place many years ago, when Old Bub, the late Ken Crawford and I decided to go ice fishing on Lake Wilhelm, in Goddard State Park. The trip was a disaster from start to finish. It began with breakfast. We stopped at a restaurant in the predawn hours. Not one of us got what we ordered. It was a horrible meal, but we ate what we could of it and headed on our way. We stopped at a bait shop to buy bait and rent an auger. When we got to the lake, we loaded everything onto a sled and began the trudge across the ice. For some inexplicable reason, the sled tipped over, spilling our bait onto the ice. Of course, the minnows died, but we decided to use them anyway. We finally decided where to drill. As luck would have it, the auger was really, really dull. It took a great deal of effort to make three holes in the ice. By the time we were done, we were soaked in sweat. Shortly thereafter, of course, we were wracked with chills. We managed to hang on for awhile but, having not gotten so much as a single bite, we headed for the car.
On another occasion, some coworkers and I decided to go on a salmon charter out of Erie. The captain was surly and unpleasant right from the start. As we were trolling, he said that the fish were much farther out. When asked why we didn’t go out to them, he answered that it would take too much fuel. We caught no fish. In fact, if my buddy had not accidentally sat on a lure, the hooks would have tasted no meat for the entire day. We were new to salmon fishing then, but it was a lesson we never forgot. On another occasion, my son, Ray, and I were on a guided steelhead trip in upstate New York. Although we did catch some fish, the bad outweighed the good. The weather turned brutally cold, and our feet against the metal bottom of the drift boat soon turned numb. Worst of all, at the dock, Ray fell into the river. Luckily we were right by the car, where he had a change of clothes. There are few fish more fun to fight than steelhead, but that outing could certainly not be called fun.
One of my bitterest memories occurred while trout fishing at Hickey Bottom. I got severely poked in the eye by a branch. My son had to take me to the ER. They cleaned out the debris and put medicine in my eye, which gave it a weird, metallic sheen. It took several days to heal, but it taught me to wear eye protection in heavy brush.
I hope you found these accounts interesting. They are by no means all inclusive. We will look at some more in the future.
On another front, at a recent meeting, the Game Commission held fast to the Saturday opening day of deer season. There were many hunters there to protest the change. I don’t have a dog in the fight, as I no longer go to camps. I do, however, see where the opponents of the Saturday opener are coming from.