It’s Saturday, April 1. April Fool’s Day to most of us, and opening day of Trout Fishing in Virginia to some of us. That is, when I was a kid. This day brings fond memories for me. When I was about six years old, my dad started taking my brother and me along on his fishing expedition on “Opening Day.” It didn’t result in much fishing for him, but we kids had a great time. At home the preparations began with getting the gear together. The fishing poles had to be reassembled after being put away for the winter. My dad did all that and I watched. One curious thing that he did was run the tip of a piece of the pole on the side of his nose, right in the crease near his cheek. “Daddy, why did you do that?” He told me that he was getting natural oils off his face to lubricate the part of the pole that slipped into the next piece. I thought he was the smartest person alive. After getting the poles ready, digging some worms, and packing our lunch we were ready. Lunch consisted of cans of Vienna Sausages, Sardines, some crackers and, of course, Pepsi in bottles. The best.
Off we went to the river bank. We got set up, Dad helped us bait our hooks at first when we were young, but he quickly taught us how to do it ourselves. I was never afraid of worms, and saw them as the means to an end…..eating trout! The factory whistle blew at noon in our small town and everyone started fishing. Fishermen and women were everywhere. Sometimes our friends Bob and Mott Martin were with us. Mott was one of those women who was ahead of her time. At least I thought so then. She wore waders and got in the water to do her fishing!! I didn’t know women did those things and it made an impression that has lasted a lifetime. She was also my seventh grade teacher for a brief time, but left mid-year to have her first child. Anyway, here we were, throwing our lines in the water, snagging them on tree branches, losing the hook, tangling the line on every conceivable weed, and my dad was patiently helping us recover, get the line prepared and back in the water. But, when we caught a fish….it was magic!! Generally we managed to catch enough to have a meal. To this day, trout are my favorite fish food.
Today at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County, VA they celebrate Heritage Day. The streams are stocked with fairly large trout and only the kids are allowed to fish. The look on those kids’ faces when they pull a ten-inch trout out of the water is very special. There is no whistle denoting the time to start fishing, and they get started about 9am. It’s a fun day, full of good food and fish. Nothing can beat those Vienna Sausages, Sardines and Pepsi Colas, but memories are being made.