D. E. Larsen, DVM
Over the next few years, Charlie would call for a post-breeding infusion on every mare on her second breeding. I don’t think we had a 100% conception rate, but it was close enough for Charlie and his clients to be pleased. On one of these visits, Charlie asked me if I wanted to look at his fish pond. He had dammed up the creek that ran through the back of his property, dumped in a couple of truckloads of fine pea gravel to provide for breeding, and planted it with trout. This pond covered nearly a half-acre, and the water was deep. The creek had year-round flow. These fish were sort of his pets.
“I let my brother Lee, the pharmacist, bring his kids up to catch a fish once in a while,” Charlie said as he retrieved a coffee can full of pelleted fish food from the little shack beside the pond.
Charlie threw the pellets into the water in front of us. The water was instantly alive with trout. These were no little trout one might expect to see at a fish hatchery, these were large fish. They looked like they were all 20 inches or more. I stood there amazed, probably had my mouth open.
“I think they have pretty good reproduction with all that gravel I dumped in up there where the creek comes into the lake. I have not planted any fish for a couple of years, and the numbers don’t seem to go down any. I think there must be some freshwater shrimp in there because they all have pink meat. That or they eat their fill of all the goldfish that you see along the edges,” Charlie said, pointing to a group of 20 to 30 six-inch goldfish hiding in the willows.
“If you want to bring your kids up, they can catch a fish,” Charlie said.
“Will my son, Derek, and our youngest daughter, Dee, would love to catch one of these fish. I am not too sure about the other two. I wouldn’t want to catch more than we could eat anyway,” I said.
“You bring them up tomorrow evening, I will honk when I go by your place on my way home.”
The next evening Dee and Derek clambered into my truck with their fishing poles. I had set the stage, and they were excited.
When we got to Charlie’s, he was waiting at the pond. He had a jar of old salmon eggs in his hand. He looked at the poles the kids were carrying. “I don’t know if these will work,” Charlie says as he examines the hooks and four-pound test leaders. “These are pretty big fish, but let’s give it a try.”
Charlie places a small glob of salmon eggs on Dee’s hook. “Just cast it out there a little way, not too far,” he says.
The eggs hit the water and begin to sink below the surface. Bam! A large trout rolls as it grabs the eggs. There is a sharp pull on the line, then nothing. When Dee reels it in, everything is gone, hook, line, and sinker.
Charlie says, “I better get my pole,” as he heads for the shack.
Charlie’s pole is an old rusted steel pole with about 12 – 15 feet of line tied to end. The line is heavy, it looks like a 50-pound test line. Tied to the tip of the pole with a half dozen granny knots. And with a large double hook at the other end of the line, probably a #4 hook size. The knot securing the hook to the heavy line is the same series of knots that tie the line to the tip of the pole.
“Now this ain’t no fancy pole, but it catches these fish. We just put a big glob of eggs on this hook like this,” Charlie says as he baits the hook.
He walks to the water’s edge with the baited hook. “Now I am going to throw this into the water, you need to stand here beside me,” he says to Dee.
When you hook the fish, and it will happen as soon as this bait sinks, you just hold the pole and back up toward the shack there,” Charle explains. “I will get the fish when you pull him out of the water.”
Charlie throws the baited hook into the water. About the time it disappears under the water, there is a tremendous tug on the line. Dee almost loses her grip but recovers quickly.
“Now, just back up,” Charlie reminds her.
Dee backs up, struggling to hold the pole with the fish fighting on the other end of the line. A few more steps and this large trout is floundering on the bank. Charlie scoops him up and pulls a little club from his back pocket and wallops him on the head a couple of times. He holds up the fish, probably 23 inches long and close to 8 inches deep.
We repeat the process with Derek. He is 3 years younger than Dee and has a little more of a struggle with the fish, but it doesn’t take long, and second fish is on the bank. This fish is slightly smaller but still an impressive fish well over 20 inches.
“Any time you get hungry for a fish, just give me a call,” Charlie says as I load the fish and the kids into the truck.
“Thanks a lot, Charlie, I will try not to take all your fish,” I say as we head the truck down the driveway.
Final post of Charlie and Betty Land continues tomorrow, #5 All Bad News.