The “not so proficient” Angler

IMG00178photophoto Well, I have just sharpened and waxed all the skis to put away at the end of the season. It is April here in Pa. and although there is still snow in other areas, we are moving on here and I don’t have any ski trips left. Our local hill is closing this week and it is time to think spring. It is also time for a little self deprecation here as I tell some more stories of the 58 year old kid. When I think April, a number of thoughts come to my head but fishing seems to be the opener for the new round of posts. Now if you look at the picture above, my proficiency in the fishing world will be revealed by my question of ” where is the fast fishing area?” As I ponder this sign, I often wonder why people fish slowly versus quickly? Oh well, that will haunt me for a while as I begin my saga of my fishing experiences.

My earliest memories were in the Florida Everglades with my grandfather,John Reynolds, and his two cronies Judge Miller and Mr. Bill Marcus. The three of these guys introduced me to fishing by taking me in airboats and small skiffs in the canals of the Everglades. My grandpap thought it was funny to sneak up on a floating alligator and poke him with his fishing pole. I almost soiled myself as I saw the mouth open and look at us with a menacing smile. The three cronies would laugh and then turn over the outboard to me so I could practice canal navigation. Almost tipped it a few times much to their concern, but they insisted that I was the captain of the skiff. Didn’t catch a thing but had fun watching the gators.

Fast forward and now I had a drivers license and grandpap and my mother thought that was great as now I was able to drive the boys to North Carolina and the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center( It was here that finally after all those years we actually caught a fish and much to my surprise the best catch was a snub nosed dolphin( Pompano) that was just shy of the North Carolina record. We had to filet it because we wanted to have a fish fry back at the place where we stayed. We also took some home and as memory serves me, most of the road trip was talking to myself while the old guys slept in the back seat.

Mirror Lake in Canada was another venue for the guys which was north of North Bay. We got there by pontoon airplane and stayed in a little cabin on the lake. The only folks there were the cook and our crew. The boys go to bed at 8:00 PM and rise at 4:00. Not a teenagers schedule but I learned to play the famous Canadian game “Trivial Pursuit” with the cook every night. I was amazed at how fresh the fish tasted each night and how still the night air is in Canada in late summer. Great memories and perhaps the last time with the guys who were in their 80s at the time. I still have my grandpap’s fishing tackle which leads me to the next little ditty.

When my son Jack was little, I took him fishing at the pond behind our church. We used minnows and caught a couple of small mouthed bass( pure dumb luck) but he was thrilled and that is the last time I ever got anything but weeds out of that pond. We went back and were skunked many times. Jack looked at me as if I had lost my touch but I vowed to make it up to him and show him that I was a great angler. Like when we were with good friends down in the Outer Banks and I had my ocean rods. Jack would come out in the morning when he woke up and see how I was doing. Again I was having bad luck as I had tried every bait that the shop recommended. Nothing. I saw the disappointment on his face and I decided to try something drastic. The next morning I rose early and drove to he Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store and went straight to the fish department. I purchased a nice Red Snapper and brought it back with me. As I deftly attached the cold, dead Snapper to my line, I cast it out in the ocean hoping that nothing would enjoy it until Jack came out. As I saw him come on to the beach with my friend Tom, I began a ritual of fightning a big catch. I reeled and pulled and reeled and pulled and said to them, ” I finally hooked a big one!” When at last I reeled it in, it was covered in the most ghastly seaweed imaginable and they both looked puzzled. Jack noticed that the snapper was not moving and asked if it was dead. Tom suspected that something wasn’t right and I whispered to him…..”Piggly Wiggly.” I thought he was going to have a heart attack laughing but the humor was lost on Jack.

Finally a few years ago we went to Hilton Head and I booked a small fishing charter with Captain Dave Fleming of “The Mighty Mako” Dave was an affable guy and was wonderful with Janet and Jack as he said that the fishing was not too good but we could catch………..sharks!!! Now not far from where Jack and I swam in the bay the day before, we were reeling in baby shark after baby shark until Janets steel leader was bitten off by what Captain Dave described as a bull shark that we would not have wanted to bring in anyhow. Jack was thrilled and scared at the shark catch and Janet was amazed at how deftly Dave handled the sharks. Captain Dave suspected that I was a half assed fisherman so he let me bring in the smaller sharks and he took my picture as I held the first shark I had ever touched in a death grip on the back of his head. That was a good day fishing and we have not had much luck since.

So as proficient as I like to think of myself in the ski world, I am really not so proficient in the angler world. I have had dumb luck, assisted success, and dreadful experiences like when I went back to the pond with Jack and didn’t notice that my reel was not tightly attached to my rod. As I wound up for a collossal cast, I ended up casting the whole reel into the middle of the lake. So much for my fishing for that day. Jack and I headed to breakfast. The memories of the old guys, the fun with Jack and Janet, and the sheer buffoonery of my angling prowess gives me many smiles as the opening day of fishing closes in on us in Pa. There is nothing like the smile of a young boy when he catches a fish and nothing like the smile of a proud dad as he sees him bring in the big one. Go fish with your children and your wife. No matter how good or bad you are, you will have a good family time and have lasting memories. Thanks for reading.

8 thoughts on “The “not so proficient” Angler

  1. david helmick says:


    Long time no see. Enjoy your blogposts.

    SS *is* to be open next weekend – just ask Dick Barron. Could hear the diesel-grooming engines last night, no lights on North Face – for weeks now. Nuttings haven’t a clue. Have money though.

    Come April 13, suggest you be equipped. Attached a couple of “must have” appliances as you angle. After attending a couple of PA season openers at Greg & Brad’s, I never “leave home without.” Drunken dick-weeds walking the stream, which is fair game – nobody “owns it” – as you know – are…annoying and sometimes combative. As a WV resident, have only bought PA license twice since expatriation. WV has it right. There IS no “fishing season.” Nobody following stocking trucks (one of which I saw a few days ago). Get a WV lifetime license, fish whenever the heck you want.


  2. Uncle Lucy says:

    HA! Ill take you two out on the boat again. Maybe the sun will be out this time and if we don’t get any fish we’ll catch a good burn!

  3. Cuz says:

    As soon as I can afford the ticket I will send Zach, the best angler in all o’ the south, your way. Till then, keep castin’ and keep writin’. Love It! Slainte! Cuz-I-L

  4. mark Hutch says:

    As a young man pat, i looked forward to the first day of fishing almost as much as the first day of skiing! The White River was almost in our backyard, so my brother and i had but a few steps to go to throw our line in. We caught many brown trout, (with fins) rainbows, brook, (which we always called “speckled” trout, along with some suckers and an occassional bass. We amost always used nightcrawlers or worms for bait, as we never had much money to buy lures with. Even had a big tub in back of the house to keep the crawlers in! I stil enjoy going with my son Aaron a few times a year and hopefully we will get out more this year! Hope you catch a monster this year!

    • McCloskey, Pat says:

      Hutch- sounds like you could teach me a few lessons. Must be great fishing the White River. Thanks for the commentary.

      Sent from my iPhone

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