Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Spring et al in Wenonah

Wenonah in Spring is always beautiful. When I was in 5th grade my father and mother would give my brothers and sister Easter gifts. Just one and a piece of clothing along with our coconut egg and jelly beans. In 5th grade I got a Sears fishing rod and reel. I'd used fishing tackle as a boy down the shore but this was different. It was a spinning reel. In this case, closed face. I also got line and some hooks and a bobber and a lure or two.
My father knew pretty much nothing about fishing. That meant that my brothers and I took to reading the instruction book and practicing in the back yard with the rod and reel. I mustered a few casts and then it was off to Davis Lake to catch some carp. In Wenonah there were about two fish you could catch. Carp and small mouth bass. None of us caught small mouth bass. That's probably because we just put balls of wadded up bread on a hook and tossed it into the lake. Oh, sometimes you'd get an eel or a minnow but mostly you caught carp. Carp are basically giant goldfish that grow in little lakes. They eat vegetation and that's about it. They are not, repeat, not, sport fish.
They do struggle a bit when you hook them but pretty much any idiot with a hook can catch one. What you do with them after you catch them is somehow unhook them and throw them back in, only to catch them again. For all I know there is only one carp in all of Davis Lake and I caught him dozens of times along with my friends.
Under a certain age you don't need a license to fish so we were able to stand there like idiots for free and catch carp. Once in a while we'd go to Sutton's Lake or down to the Mantua Creek. The creek actually had fish in it you might eat. There were catfish in the creek and they were catchable and if you were ballsy enough you could skin them and cook them and eat them. I never got past the trying to skin them phase. Catfish for those of you who didn't grow up in a rural or semi-rural environment are some weird prehistoric fish like sharks without scales. You have to peel their skin off them. This is neither easy nor pleasant and they are not happy about it. They're ugly, nasty, and don't like dying. Pretty much like every creature on the face of the earth.
So there we were in the middle of the woods, lines in the stupid little lake, waiting for carp. All around us the dogwoods and peach were erupting in bloom. The scent of blossoms, lilacs and hyacinths and a thousand other flowers filled the air. We didn't notice. We were looking at a muddy little pond stocked with ornamental junkfish and trying to be like the men we read about in Boys Life.
There is a horrible lesson to be learned here. I do remember at times forgetting I was fishing. Just lying back in the new grass on the shore of the creek and breathing in the air in the warm spring breeze. That might have lasted for twelve minutes. It should have been savored. Perhaps it still is.

3 comments:

Bob Thomas said...

Fishing in Wenonah -

I used to fish with Randy Weber in Davis Lake and at the Wenonah Lake. Somehow Mrs. Weber would get someone to unlock the gate for us and we would sit on the dock and drop our lines in the water. We used dough balls too. Sometimes we caught sunfish besides the fish that you mentioned.

Other days we used worms for bait. I remember Mr. Davis would let us dig in his compost pile for worms. His compost had lots of coffee grounds in it. The worms that had been feeding on the coffee grounds were thin and spindly and smelled worse than the other worms when you put them on the hook.

One time we went on the other side of the road from Wenonah Lake to the spot where the culvert lets water spill into a pretty deep pool. We saw a snake there trying to swallow a catfish and we threw rocks at the snake that was "stealing our fish." I don't know how the snake ever got hold of the catfish, but it was still alive and struggling against the efforts of the snake.

Perhaps the catfish had been injured by being caught and released by a fisherman.

Jim Maddox said...

Keith Madden and I used to go rake fishing at the lake in Woodbury Heights. Pulling fish out of the water and yanking hooks out of their mouths wasn't all that appealing to me, I preferred catching turtles and such in the shallows. You would take a good sturdy garden rake, thrust it into the mud and pull it towards you. In all the muck and goo we would find tadpoles, painted turtles, minnows, snails and the occasional baby eel. Sunshine, mud and creatures squirming in your fingers. Couldn't ask for a better day.

Mark Krusch said...

Hah - You sure didn't know what you were doing fishing Jack! lol - Sonny Mecholsky introduced me to fishing and I took it from there! Wenonah had and still has lots of fish to catch. There's largemouth bass, crappies (what we called smallmouth bass), pickerel, roach, sunfish, bluegills, as well as the "junk" fish you named - catfish and carp.
The Mantua Creek has huge carp that migrate up it to spawn each year in June - carp that exceed 30 pounds.
I rarely go fishing in Wenonah any more, but I have lots of good memories of my time spent fishing in Langston's, Davis', and the Mantua creek. (No real fisherman would fish in Wenonah lake as there were only junk fish in there!) ;-)
One of the best spots was a stream that ran off the creek right by the trestle - Remember that?