I love to read the columns by Rick Brockway in The Daily Star. His adventures are almost like my adventures only his are 10 times better.
In this I mean that he always hits just the right time to go — the black flies are on vacation visiting me at my house and the smallest size of the rainbow and brown trout are all over 30 inches long.
Couple this with the fact that these fish suddenly have an appetite for rusty fish hooks with old dried up worms attached from the last adventure out. (About three years ago.) I ask “are vintage worms like vintage wines – they get better with time?”
It was a lazy Thursday morning and I was a graduate student at Cornell University when my cohort graduate companions decided that we had been working hard enough to go fishing for a weekend in a cabin leased from one of the paper companies in the Adirondacks.
We would fish in “virgin waters” where the fish would jump for joy on our arrival. The only problem was that we would have to hike about 15 miles before we would reach the camp. Friday morning came and we disappeared.
We were traveling light with only our fishing gear and clothing because sleeping bags, pillows,and blankets were at the cabin packed in 55 gallon steel barrels along with some rifles and cartridges. I had heard stories about hunting in the Adirondacks — the windfalls so thick you couldn’t see daylight. We were told (reassured) that we would be hiking up logging trails and it would be no problem and there was no chance that we could get lost. (I can hear Rick laughing now.)
On our way up it started to rain. After 10 consecutive days of above average warm days, we started hiking as the temperature started to plummet.
The logging trail was starting to turn into a small stream, which got worse with each feeder tributary logging road.
“Are we almost there?” became our stepwise mantra. “Almost there,” snapped our compatriot guide. Just when heart and leg were about to fail there was a cry from our scout. “Over here!” was met with shouts of joy. We found all the keys to open the door and we entered a land of long ago.
To say that there was dust would be an understatement. The air was right out a mystery story where everyone ends up at the crypt. We set up “teams” one team to get fresh water, another to air the place out and shovel out the dust, and another to air the bedding, with another to locate the Jessup River.
We had a plan to eat “off the land” catching fish for supper, but since it had been raining, all the creeks were running mud. So there would be no fishing, and the meat market had closed. Anticipating this I had brought a frozen flank steak, which had thawed to “ready.”
We had no trouble with water as the cabin had a “jury rig” water catch that drained to a tank. We were warned that this was not drinkable.
A fire in the pot belly stove was drying out the cabin, and we were getting ready to cook when I asked for the spice rack. They were somewhere in one of the six steel barrels that acted as a storage bin when the cabin was not in use. No salt, no pepper, no garlic powder, and I even heard complaining about “no butter.”
It was about 10 o’clock and night had truly fallen. Night might have fallen for us but it was wake-up time for the creatures of the night that cohabit log cabins on the “mighty” Jessup River.
I was in the middle bunk of a three tier bunk set up with “soft wood” to cushion our aches and pains. The kerosene lantern was turned down to a flicker and snores were heard within seconds.
Along with the snores were the noises made by scampering feet and slithering bodies that I could hear coming from a large beam that ran about a foot from my head. It might have been OK if these “critters of the night” were on a slow stroll ,but they were zipping along. I couldn’t sleep because I was worried there would be a pileup and the “critters of the night” would end up in my ear or mouth.
“Where’s the bacon?” was the cry. The bacon man hung his head and said, “I forgot.” Thank heavens I brought eggs, which were consumed by a ravenous crew. No fish for breakfast. It was Saturday morning and all our food was gone.
We fished in pairs. One reason expounded the night before was if one team member was attacked and eaten by a bear the other could take pictures and run like crazy.
We decided to go upstream as far as we could go getting to a point of “milky” water rather than muddy water and started bait casting or fly fishing as was our style.
After a day of hard fishing we caught millions of small fish about 4 to 8 inches long. Where were the monsters of the mighty Jessup?
That night we had a fish fry using a pound of lard for fat. The fish were crispy and served with two long loaves of French bread. It was magnificent.
That night nobody waited for nine o’clock to go to sleep. It was “lights out” for everybody but me at 8. It was my night to be the traffic cop for the critters of the night.
Since we ate all our fish at supper on Saturday night, we had nothing to eat for Sunday. At 9 a.m., the black flies started eating us, and we were packed and on our way home by 10. The mighty Jessup River still flows and the big ones are still waiting. After growing for more than 30 years they should be pretty big by now.
Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.