The older I get, the more I think about when I was young. I guess that makes sense since the older I get the more I have to remember and think back on.
Some of my favorite memories are also some of the oldest — me and my father going fishing in the little creeks and streams near our home in southern Kentucky. We used to wade around casting for crappie and perch and whatever else would bite. Sometimes we got really lucky and caught some smallmouths. Those catches were the most memorable of all.
But it's not just the fishing I remember. Another thing that has stuck with me all these years is the time and effort spent in preparing to go fishing. We all know that you can't just "go" fishing. There's a lot more preparation than there is "go" when it comes to a fishing trip.
For those early trips that I took with my dad, there was quite a lot of preparation. For one thing, I had to catch the minnows that we used for bait. These were usually trapped or netted from a creek smaller than the ones we fished. The process of catching the bait always seemed to last a lot longer than the actual fishing, but when you're a kid and there's fishing at the end of the tunnel, no chore is too tough or too long.
After catching the bait and putting it in the bucket, I also had the task of fixing our lunch for the day and putting some drinks in the cooler. In fact, when I think about it, it seems my dad made me do everything to get ready for our fishing trips. Even when we walked from the car to the creek I remember that I was the one doing all the carrying while he was taking it pretty easy!
Of course, I'm not complaining. It was good training for all the fishing trips that I'd take in the years since then. It taught me to respect the process as much as the experience and to understand what it takes to just "go" fishing.
The hours we spent on those small streams were irreplaceable. It was not only bonding time for us, but it was also like time spent in a fishing classroom. I learned every inch of those streams, where the fish lived, where they ate and what they ate.
I think stream fishing is probably the very best way to get into the sport, even now. There's just nothing like it.
For one thing, the fish are just a little bit trapped. Their environment is pretty small. A creek is nothing like a giant lake with hundreds of feet of water beneath you and thousands of surface acres around you.
On a little stream, the fish are either in the shallow riffles or the deep pools. They're either holding next to some big rocks or an overhanging branch. They'll either respond to a grasshopper struggling across the surface or a hellgrammite tumbling across the bottom.
Smaller really is better, sometimes.
Not only did we have lots of fish confined to a relatively small area, but we could occasionally see the fish and watch what they were doing. It was like a classroom that you never wanted to leave.
And unlike today when I typically carry a dozen or more rods and reels and enough lures to stock a tackle shop, we used very basic equipment and just a few lures ... when we weren't fishing with live bait.
It was a simpler time, a simpler style of fishing and a very basic introduction to a sport that has been very good to me for a long time.
Even though I spend most of my fishing time on a big man-made reservoir today, I've never forgotten what I learned on those little streams or the time I got to spend with my dad.
I wish everyone could start their fishing on one of the streams I fished as a kid.
Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.