Every year we stop just outside the mountains and conduct our ritual, being sure to stop for our traditional tacos and vanilla ice cream cones at Bridgeport’s Jolly Kone. It’s usually late May or early June when we arrive which means we’re usually hiding out under the picnic table umbrellas finishing our snack as the afternoon rain hangs through the valley. It’s only about five miles to the edge of Sawtooth Ridge through winding cattle pastures. At the base of the mountains are two lakes, Twin Lakes, where a stream flows from the lower lake and is dotted with campsites and rainbow trout.
It’s just my dad and I in his dodge truck. When we arrive at the campground, forget unpacking, we grab the fishing poles and run for the stream. It’s always a contest to see who can reel in the first one. I rush to bait my hook and throw the line in. I don’t know how he does it, but he almost always beats me. Touching the line, but not holding it, I can feel my bait moving through the water, bouncing off the rocks. Nothing. Dad yells out with a laugh, “Bite! Bite, bite, bite,” to mimic the hits he’s getting as a fish struggles to get the bait off his hook. It doesn’t count until he gets it in. But catching the fish isn’t what it’s all about. This is an annual get away to relax, walk the stream, and be out of reach from technology (with the exception of my camera of course).
Fishing helps me find my calm. I’m so focused on that and just being in the moment that I can’t help but relax and enjoy it. Although my fishing spot has the option of lake fishing or stream fishing, I prefer the stream. At the lake I feel as though I’m waiting for something to come along and find my bait. However, if I’m walking the stream and don’t get a bite, I can keep walking. But it’s really up to you, and there are pros and cons to both. Fishing from the shore of the lake allows you to just leave your pole with little danger of a snag while stream fishing requires you to be strategic on where you place your line due to the dangers of the current dragging it right into the rocks, moss, and branches hiding beneath the waterline. Walking the stream affords mobility. For instance, my Dad and I will leap frog along in different spots until one of us finds the fish.
Some fishermen swear on fishing at dawn, but honestly, I feel you can catch fish any time of the day. If you are an early riser, maybe you can still catch the fog creeping along the banks like you can in my spot. It’s absolutely brilliant. I usually bring a cup of tea to the bank and watch the fog swirl with the currents as it slowly burns off with the morning sun. This is your time and who says you have to be fishing the whole time you’re on your fishing trip anyway?
If you haven’t been fishing, no problem. It’s easy to get started and you just need a few basics. Pick up some bait, a fishing pole, and tackle. With the bait, bring a couple of different options. If one isn’t working, switching to another can make all the difference between catching a few fish and not even getting a bite. Some good options include worms, spinners, and salmon eggs. Some swear on PowerBait, but it has never done much for me. If you are just getting started, there is no need for an expensive fancy pole; you just need one that will cast far and smooth. It’s reasonable to get a decent starter for under $50. Always, always, always bring extra tackle. You will snag your line and lose everything but the pole, so you’ll need to re-rig. Be sure to bring extra string, hooks, swivels, and weights. It’s not required, but bring an extra pair of boots and socks to change into. You may find yourself stepping into the stream to get the right angle on the cast, leaving you with soggy shoes for the rest of the day. If you catch anything, you’ll need a cooler, ice, plastic Ziploc bags, and a knife. You’ll want to clean your fish and if you choose to not cook them right away with some lemon and pepper on the campfire, then you’ll need to bag them up and throw them on ice. And really that’s all you need besides a little know how and probably some camping gear if you plan on an extended stay.
The Take Me Fishing campaign run by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation is an excellent source if you want to give the relaxing sport of fishing a try. They provide everything from how to fish, more about the gear, the difference between different kinds of fishing, where to go, and any state information that may be required for certain areas. If you have any good fishing tips or places you think others should check out, please leave a comment below.