We were raised by my mother and grandmother in a time when
single parent families were an oddity, at least in northern New York, where we lived
in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. This was in the "50's". I was the
middle child in a family of three boys, each three years apart.
All of my friends had fathers who taught them all of the things
that young boys needed to be taught. I had a mother who went more than just the
extra mile to make sure we learned to play ball or ride a bike, use a hammer and
saw, or whatever the other kids were learning at the time.
Sometimes she would get one of the older neighborhood boys to
work with us or she would try to do it herself. We were fortunate enough to have
friends whose fathers helped us along. Whatever the methods they all somewhat
worked. We had a very well-rounded childhood.
When I was around eight, one of the things that we all expressed
an interest in was going fishing. Well, Mom decided to try that herself. She
bought some inexpensive bait casting outfits with the braided green line, some
hooks, bobbers, sinkers, and some night crawlers. Off we went to the Salmon River
just outside of town on the Chasm Falls Road.
None of us wanted to put the worms on the hook, so mom convinced
us that the shiny gold hooks would attract the trout. She positioned us a few yards
apart on the bank where she could see all of us. I had a spot where I was a little
farther out into the water than my brothers, aided by an old log.
On my first cast, the log decided to move ever so slightly which
was enough to give me my first fishing baptism. Needless to say, that was the end
of that trip. She took her brood home, complete with a drenched and crying eight
Sometime later that summer, in what must have been a weak
moment, she decided to try it again. Except this time I went alone with her. We
went to the same place, but she wouldn't let me stand on the log. This time I made
a successful cast, (sans-bait), and waited for the trout to bite. And waited . . .
and waited . . . and waited.
Meanwhile Mom was talking to an angler who was working his way
upstream. I remember noticing his wicker creel and high boots. Just then this
gentleman tells me to cast my line again because he thinks there are fish just below
I cast out into the current and wait, still with a bare hook.
He tells me to let out some more line because the fish are farther downstream. "A
little more line, more, just a little more" he says, "right there!"
I waited for what seems to be an eternity and suddenly I feel a
sharp tug on my rod. He yells up "You've got one, reel it in!" I reel for all my
worth and finally I see that glorious fish that I've waited so long for.
After what seemed like a fierce fight I brought my trophy to the
bank. By now I'm just about jumping out of my skin and so proud of the fact that I
had caught a trout.
Many years and many fish later I was thinking about that fish
and it dawned on me. That fish not only did not fight - but it had been cleaned!
The unselfish angler had taken one of his fish out of his creel
and saw my hook gleaming in the water and hooked it onto my line. It not only made
the day for an anxious eight-year old, but it helped shape my life. I never knew
who the man was who was so kind to me, but now 37 years later I would like to say
I live over 700 miles from that place on the Salmon River, but
each year I return for a few days every summer. I always make it a point to fish
that run. And I always manage to catch fish there.
Mom has been gone for over a year and a half now, but the memory
of her taking me fishing seems like only yesterday. The whole point is, if you have
a child who has a desire to go fishing, do it!
It could be one of the most rewarding and memorable days of
their childhood. ~ Tom Reisdorf