With trout season almost here … did you get your license?


Trout season begins Saturday throughout most of our region, but it just doesn’t feel the same.

For one, I don’t have my trout license yet. That isn’t out of the ordinary. I typically wait to the last minute like everyone else standing in line at Wal-Mart’s outdoors counter the night before the big Saturday opener.

The hard part has been the silence.

I’ve known my wife for more than 13 years and her father was one of the most passionate trout anglers around. He loved hitting the local creeks with his old hip waiters, bucket of minnows and favorite fishing ballcap with a needle pinned inside. He used the needle to thread his hook through each minnow before casting it out.

Part of his annual tradition was getting on me to get my license. Shortly after Christmas each year, he’d start in on me. Every time I’d stop in, one of the first questions out of his mouth was whether I had purchased my fishing license yet. Also each time, in what seemed like the same breath, he’d ask if I got him a bucket of minnows and a dozen or two of nightcrawlers.

And so it went every late winter/early spring. Not long into the ritual, we added a new line to the regular routine … he’d ask me to print out the early season stocking schedule. Each time I’d get it for him, he was like a child on Christmas morning. He’d go to his favorite couch and study it as if preparing for the SATs.

The routine has become such a regular part of the annual trout season buildup for me, I find myself struggling in the silence this spring.

You see, Pappy died this past fall. No barrage of reminders to get my fishing license. No requests for minnows, worms or stocking schedules. The silence has been deafening.

My wife and I were in his old shop recently, and the aquariums that he used to hold minnows in were empty. It was an odd sight considering the season. She joked later with me, asking me if I had gotten my license yet. And if I had gotten a bucket of minnows and a few nightcrawlers, too. His traditions have touched all of us.

The double-whammy for us this trout season included my father’s passing. While much more hunter than trout fisherman, my father still made trout time a regular bonding experience for my brother and myself. I remember my first real trout fishing trip when we still lived in New Jersey. He let me fish by myself for the first time, almost like he knew that I was about to catch my first trout unassisted. That was nearly three decades ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.

I remember, too, regular trips to Muncy Creek after we moved to Pennsylania. We’d sit on a large rock overlooking the creek all day, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and casting line after line of meal worms and other live bait into the creek. Sometimes we’d catch quite a lot. Other times, we’d come home empty-handed. Every time was a moment I’ve learned to cherish looking back.

So now we’re entering trout season 2013, and it just feels so different. Change is inevitable, and we only have a small window of time to create the memories that will truly last a lifetime. Sometimes it is as simple as a regular reminder to get a fishing license or a squishy PB&J that triggers those memories and sends them cascading over us like a large overwhelming wave.

Don’t miss your opportunity to savor the season … share it with family, friends and especially the younger generation. It won’t be regretted. It all starts with a simple fishing license. Did you get yours yet?

~ by zaktansky on April 8, 2013.

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