I was fishing a stretch of Linden Creek, or Little Chartiers, when John pulled up on his Honda.
“Hey, John. Bring me my creel,” I yelled. “It’s in the back of my truck.”
John retrieved it and came down to the stream to sit beside me.
“What do you have in that?” he asked. “It weighs a ton.”
That’s me. Carry everything except the kitchen sink when hunting or fishing. Even when I know I’m going to use little but spinners, I still take along hooks and splitshot. One pair of glasses is not enough. I might need a spare. Two pair of hemostats are in the bag along with needle nosed pliers. One must not forget the leatherman on my belt. I prepare for any emergency.
In my truck are two jacks, one light, the other heavier. Everyone knows you can’t believe the weatherman. What if it rains. For those occasions, there is a rain jacket stored somewhere in the truck. At my age, magnifying glasses are not a luxury but a necessity. Sometimes in the evening, even they aren’t sufficient.
When trying on a hook or lure, there is always that piece of line protruding from the knot. I call it the tail piece and cut it off. In dim light, I have spent quite a while tying on only to cut the wrong line and had to start over. I need a line as visible as rope but invisible under the water.
In my pocket are fingernail clippers that work to perfection when removing the tail piece. On my key ring are tiny scissors made by Leatherman and in my creel are another pair of slightly larger scissors. Oh, I forgot about the pen knife is always in my pocket. A good scout is always prepared.
Occasionally, I take a look at the bottom of my creel. I will find a chain stringer along with a couple made with some kind of chord. Then there is the ever present fish bag, Talk about being optimistic. Bobbers are present, though light in weight and there are small strike indicators that are nothing more than miniature bobbers with a fancy name.
Those things make up a load but there is more. I intend to use the multitude of spinners I carry with me, but what if the fish want something else? I might want to use the jar of green power bait in the front pocket of the creel, but what if they want a different color. As I dig deep, I find a can of Play-Doh. Why in the world would an adult angler carry Play-Doh? Well, when fishing on a particularly windy day, the fisherman places a bobber on his line to indicate a hit. The Play-Doh works better and never gets caught in the eye or wraps around the rod when setting the hook. For the life of me, I don’t know why it’s there while I work a stream.
I have even caught myself carrying two rods along the banks of a creek. One will hold a spinner, while the other has a baited hook. No wonder I can’t take a stool along even when my movement will be limited. Perhaps that heavy creel explains why I am tired after a day along the trout stream. The next day, I will struggle to get out of bed and my shoulders and back will hurt. Lighten the load, you say. I can’t do that. I might just need the very thing I remove, and I can’t stand that.
It reminds me of the time three of us were fishing the tail race of Kinzua Dam in Warren County. The hinge of our minnow bucket lid broke and to keep things intact, we placed a rock on top. As we left to go back to camp, Big Nick grabbed the bucket and started the long walk back. Halfway there, and after numerous complaints about the weight of the bucket, he discovered the rock. One can imagine his colorful language. That’s me, carrying unneeded weight when I go fishing.
At least, catch and release is common when trout fishing. I have to realize there isn’t room in my creel for fish.
George Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.