This little remembrance is for Wayne. Wayne Parent.
It comes up at a time of the year when I feel the stirring of spring, smell the changes in the air, and see the new worm castings on the cold damp ground. It was at this time as a boy I would spend hours daydreaming of fishing. This was prior to any experience in saltwater so it was limited to the small freshwater ponds in the Orleans area. I knew them all like the back of my hand then, which ones had bass, which ones had pickerel. Now they all have bass from being transplanted around by well meaning fishermen. Most of these ponds were for summer.
The spring has a special flavor to it, as it is the time for reopening of the trout season. My favorite spot was Baker’s pond, on the Orleans and Brewster line. This would have been around the years 1968 or 69, before year round residences were there. It was to me, a genuine wilderness. I can still hear the whip-poor-will’s in my mind, calling in their plaintive and lonely cries. Occasionally, mating ruffed grouse could be heard drumming in the awakening oak woodlands around the shores of the pond. The fishing was probably no better than the closer Crystal Lake, but to me this place was heaven. From my home in East Orleans, to the power line at the top of the hill, it was at least a half hour bike ride with my hip boots, (I couldn’t afford waders) rods, worm and tackle boxes stuffed into the newspaper racks of my bike. From there, the road turned to dirt and leaf covered little cart-paths that branched off into the woods and towards the pond. I usually wore my dads old army coat with the pockets stuffed with whatever sustenance I could manage from home in the wee hours of the morning of my departure. It seems that I was bolder and more adventurous than I am now. Maybe it was just a safer world. But it seems that an ten, eleven or twelve year old kid nowadays isn’t seen or wouldn’t consider riding through the rain for an hour to get to such a remote location. I guess I had the bug pretty bad, even back then.
Arriving at the now rain dimpled water’s edge in the gray light of the dawn, I would get at least one line into the water before I would unload my rest of gear. Today I had garden worms, corn and salmon eggs for bait. Hooking a couple of salmon eggs on a hook, I would cast the bait far enough out to be off the sloping edge of pond basin, and prop the rod on the branches of a bush while I went to cut a couple of forked branches to use as rod holders. I took at small handful of corn and salmon eggs, and mixed it with a small handful of gravel. I then threw the bait and gravel mix in a wide arc into the water in front of me. I had read somewhere in the pages of either “Outdoor Life” or “Field and Stream” magazine that hatchery reared fish were used to being fed with pellets scattered into the water and I figured the sound of the bait mix hitting the water would attract some to my baits. It worked pretty well actually because I had already caught a couple of fish in the 14 or 15 inch range and was well on my way to catching the limit of six fish.
Other fishermen could be heard on the pond, some trolling along in small tin boats in the rain, while others were setting up like me to shore fish. On this particular day, a couple guys set up to my left and were waiting for a bite. I watched their rods as well as mine, as I suspected they might know more than I. They caught a couple fish too, but at one point, one of the fellows cried out and ran towards the water to grab his pole, which seemed about to be pulled into the water by a fish. Setting the hook, his was into what seemed to be a good fish, with the drag screaming out much more line than was coming in. After a fight that seemed ridiculously long to me, having never had the experience of a fish pull out the drag before, the fish splashed water on the surface as it came closer to shore. I approached, awe struck as this huge fish was about to be landed. As the man’s friend, Wayne, netted the huge brown trout out of the water, my mouth hung open. I was dumbfounded ! It had to be 30-inches long ! How could such a fish live in this little pond ? I was too shocked to remember much more of that day other than I did hang around those guys for the rest of that morning, looking enviously at the fish and bumming a soda and some snacks from them. I do remember Wayne’s name as he not only offered me soda and lived on my street, but he showed me the bait he and his friend used to catch the big fish. He showed me the night crawlers they used and how to hook them in the head and hide the hook. He was the first to tell me it takes a big bait to catch a big fish. !
Thanks Wayne ! I hope they are biting where you are !!