I WANT TWENTY-FIVE CENTS FOR THE RAINBOW
"Hey Billy - what are you going to do today?"
"I dunno," he replied.
"What about heading up to Patches Dam and go fishing?"
"Okay; but, I have to be home by four o'clock to do some chores before dad gets home from work." We lashed our spinning rods to the bicycle handles along with my dad's wicker creel and the prerequisite peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Coke.
It was a pretty good bicycle ride from the house to the dam and several of the streets were a slow uphill pedal. But, that was the beauty of the ride back. You could almost coast about half way or better with a good start. It was a pleasant trip through town, pass the golf course and on towards the river at the upper end where it crossed under the road. The trail to the dam was too narrow and rough to ride our bikes all the way to it; so, we had to stash them somewhere alongside the trail. It was required to hide the transportation even way back then because it wasn't unknown to have someone happen by and decide that appropriating one's bike for the ride back to town was preferable to the long walk or trying to hitch a ride. Good part was they usually left it parked next to the city swimming pool where you could find it rather easily. Most of the "appropriating" was for just for convenience and not full blown thievery.
Our fish bait was the standard can of crawlers acquired the night before on the front lawn. Now, the secret to obtaining a really top notch batch depended upon your inside knowledge of of worm wrangling. If you wanted to be able to fill your container by mere one or two movements, instead of having to cover the whole lawn, it took an "expert" crawler snatchers forte and intimate understanding of their technology. In other words, you covered your flashlight with the red cellophane that came from the top of the milk bottles delivered to your front door back in the Stone Age! Not only were crawlers extremely sensitive to movement and noise; but, too much light causes them to snap back into their burrows posthaste. That is, unless you lucked upon a romantic twosome that was fully stretched out and otherwise occupied. And, really in the know gatherers sprinkled the lawn with a hose just before twilight because those critters always came out by the scores after a goodly rain.
The water was running just over the top of the dam because the daily release hadn't taken place yet; but that didn't stop us from walking out a ways so we could fish the deeper water. Besides, our tennies would always dry out before we got home and stood inspection upon entry into the house and under the keen gaze of -MOM! "No dirt and stuff better be in my house when you come through that door." It was an admonition that wasn't always quite followed to the letter of mom's law.
The day was hot and fishing slow with only the occasional small sun fish or perch to show for all our preparations. I decided to walk back to the grassy hillside and then traverse down to the very rocky river side area. The flow directly out of the bottom of the dam was too fast to fish unless you had about a pound of lead for a sinker. Not wanting to walk downstream quite a ways to calmer water, it was decided to fish a rather large and deep pool just to the right of the river. It was a sort of a catch basin that was always full and churning when the pre-release flow was over topping the dam.
In this instance though there was a staunch impediment to tossing a line into the foaming cauldron. A very large and long section of tree trunk had been washed over the dam since our last visit and it was in a vertical position. The top portion was leaning against the dam wall and the bottom was firmly skewered to the unseen bottom of the pit. All attempts to move it were useless. What the heck! Not going to let a little detail like a twenty-five foot giant tree trunk spoil my fishing. Into the frothy brew went not one; but, two humongous night crawlers firmly attached to a size six Eagle Claw hook. Around and around it whirled like it was fastened to the propeller of mom's washing machine. All of a sudden it stopped and was sitting there just stationary.
Was I finally hooked into that huge tree trunk; was it into one of the many hefty rocks that inhabited the pool? A slight jerk on the line and there was no movement or response. A heftier pull resulted in the line suddenly moving again, only this time it started tugging back! I yelled to Billy that I had some kind of big fish on and he just laughed and said it was probably a maple tree fish. Abruptly, a monstrous rainbow trout shot out of the whirling water and then disappeared below. I was never going to be able to land it in that boiling tree filled cavity. But, somehow it came out of there intact with one final yank.
It was the heftiest trout I had ever seen and stretched to the 22" mark and was pushing more than five pounds on later checking. There was just one slight problem. It wasn't trout season at the dam yet. What was I going to do? Dad would never believe the size of this beauty; so, the decision was made to bring it home anyway. After all, what would the law do to a twelve year old miscreant?
As Billy and I approached our bikes I spied some ferns by the river and lined dad's wicker creel with them and wet them down to keep the trout moist till we made it home.
Suddenly, visions of bars danced before my eyes and clothing with vertical black and white stripes materialized on my skinny frame. What if we were stopped by the police and they looked inside dad's basket?
"Hey Billy, how's about we switch bikes and you carry the trout home for me and I'll carry your pole?"
"No way - are you nuts?"
"I'll pay you for it."
"All I got is my week's allowance - a quarter."
"Okay - I'll do it; but, if we get caught it's your fish."
The way home was fraught with thoughts of not only the police showing up; but, what was dad going to say when he finds out what I did?
The trout was sneaked into the house, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in the refrigerator. "NO mom - we didn't have any luck today except for a few small ones."
Here comes dad and it's almost suppertime. Should I say anything and risk the loss of a meal or what about waiting till later. At least I'll survive till morning on a full stomach when I'm sentenced to my bedroom till morning.
Mom's sweet voice wafted through the kitchen all the way into the living room and was directed to my dad, "When did you catch this huge trout I just found in the refrigerator?"
"What trout? Trout aren't even in season yet."
"Well - how did it get in here?"
Suddenly the voice from the Spanish Inquisition or at least what I imagined it would sound like rose in volume, "RICHARD - come here immediately. WHAT IS GOING ON?"
Okay, so jail time wasn't as bad as the wrath of mom; but, I'd have to throw myself on the mercy of the court to get out of this one. The whole sordid story poured forth in great detail including the part about me knowing that dad would never believe I caught one that big unless he actually saw it. And, besides, I'm just a little kid and they wouldn't really put me under the jail - would they?
Mom just shook her head and gave me the big eyeball roll and dad wanted to know if I realized that I'd broken the law and was I sorry for it. I pleaded guilty as charged and promised to never do anything like that again.
Mom's parting words were, "It's too big to fit into my fry pan." And dad opined as to how good fresh fried trout would taste.
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