THERE'S REALLY NOTHING TO IT
The opening of Virginia's trout season in April of 1978 was much on everyone's mind but especially our oldest son. He was really looking forward to trout fishing with his grand dad and two uncles as we anticipated the trek to southwest Virginia for the traditional opening day of the season. Our youngest son could care less about catching trout so he was always a reluctant participant in the annual pilgrimage.
As usual, we would be spending the whole week in Wise County. However, we would probably do most of our fishing in Lee County which is the furthest you could go westward in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.
Opening day would find us heading for Hardy's Creek as it was always heavily stocked for the opening day festivities. Our favorite spot to set up camp for the day was a small-whitewashed church of now unknown denomination. It had some nice open grassy spots that would accommodate the whole tribe we usually traveled with for the first day. Counting noses among the cousins, dads and moms and granddad and grandma would bring us to a nicely rounded out number of 15.
Ciphering up the number of participants times the daily limit, back then, of eight trout per day would allow us to fillet, at the end of the day, approximately 120 delicious trout. That of course was built upon the premise that each person could catch his or her limit. Given the usual stream full of various fisherpersons, it was a doubtful chance that we could come anywhere near that vaunted figure.
Back then we were all, perish the thought now, some of those dreadful "bait fisherman!" Worms, crawlers, cheese, minners and other bait types were suitable for the task. We mostly all were equipped with fly rods of one type or another, at least the older ones among us, but none of us fly fished at that time. We learned the fine art of angling from grandpa, who always fished with a fly rod, as he said it was more sensitive to the touch when it came to feeling a trout take the bait and much better for bringing one to hand.
It was always a contested occasion to see who could catch the biggest trout, the heaviest one and the first to fill a limit.
We pretty much spread out over a wide section of the stream and a good hole full of stockers was jealously guarded. That was until someone else would notice that a certain someone was hauling in a sizable catch or number of the finny critters. It was funny how one could draw a whole bunch of suddenly close by "friends" by the mere stringing up of a few "good un's."
The friendly banter and contest would go on until a lunch break was called for and then we would all put down the rods. The next order of business consisted of preparing for the moveable feast that always accompanied our opening day fest. Out would come the picnic baskets and coolers full of wonderful concoctions and soft drinks for any and every taste. Fried chicken, tater salad, deviled eggs, all manner of salad fixing's, maters, fresh baked bread slathered in mayo or mustard, cornbread, rolls and a few other goodies.
Now the real meal began after the aforementioned victuals were quickly dispensed with and the plethora of desserts were laid out and soon laid waste by the assembled horde. There were delicious pies, cakes, ice cream, cookies and all calories free of course.
After a lunchtime respite, noses were counted and all those still able to stand and walk after the noontime feast were soon wading into the river and once again in pursuit of the frying pan treats that awaited. Bragging rights were established during the break and those lacking in numbers, weight or size returned to the fray with gusto.
Some of the folks had retired from stream activity for the day but a hardy few kept up flogging the water with the goal of a first place finish in any of the categories, especially first limit to be claimed.
Not too much time had expired when "the one who wasn't that interested in fishing" walked into the campsite and promptly hauled out of the water a stringer full of trout. If hazy memory serves me correctly, he not only caught the first limit but also the biggest trout. Thus ended that one particular outing when we were all totally taken aback and surprised, and when questioned as to how he had managed to do all this his haughty reply was; "There's really nothing to it!"