Old-school fishing brings back memories

info@islandpacket.comDecember 5, 2011 

You won't believe what just happened to me.

I couldn't wait to get home from fishing so I could get it all down on paper before I could forget one single part of the past two hours.

It was the Bluffton Christmas parade Saturday and whether you were there or not, you should remember how gorgeous it was outside. I thought about going to the parade but, with my wife at yoga, I decided to give my brand new rod and reel a try.

For years now, I have been a Shimano reel kind of guy, but after I blew out my third Shimano reel of the year, I made a trip to Walmart to do some reel hunting. Just when I was about to grab another Shimano reel, my eye caught a reel that every one of us has had at one time or another: the classic Mitchell 300. I grew up fishing with these reels and after playing with it for a few minutes, I was pretty darn impressed with how good it felt and the drag was as smooth as silk.

Yep, I was going back to my roots.

As you might imagine, I have more rods and reels than half the tackle shops around, but this new reel is for one type of fishing only: speckled sea trout on artificials. When the water starts clearing up as it gets colder, I ditch my usual braided line and go strictly with eight-pound test fluorocarbon line.

With the rod loaded and ready to go, I opted to give my new toy a try while all y'all were in old town Bluffton and, as you'll find out, it was better than any parade ever held.

I can't tell you where I went -- or I would have to eliminate you all -- but it was a spot I hadn't tried in several years. Intentionally, all I had with me was my Mitchell 300 and three pouches of my favorite color screwtails, along with a half dozen lead heads, some red, some white and some chartreuse.

Before I even made my first cast, I was having flashbacks to all the years I fished this very same way with my dad and, at times, my brother Dan.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm fishing I get this tingling sensation when I feel that I am in the right place and at the right time. Everything just looked right. Taking a deep breath, I made my first cast and that screwtail went flying through the air with the greatest of ease. As the screwtail started sinking, I twitched it a couple of times and then started a slow retrieve with a twitch about every third turn of the reel. It hadn't made it halfway back to me when I felt a thump, at which time I began reeling faster until the trout hooked himself.

Trout are such a cool fish. There is no doubt what it is on the end of your line as they shake that head the entire time and, by the bend in my rod, I knew this wasn't a peanut trout. When I finally saw it, I was shocked at its size, because it would have won just about any tournament around these parts. I was on the board!

Without going on and on, I caught at least 30 or 40 trout in the space of an hour or so. I've done that many times before, but every single trout I caught was a pig, and I was in hog heaven.

Even better was the fact that there wasn't another soul around. It was just me, the trout and 58 years of trout-fishing memories. My lure was getting whacked on just about every cast and all I could think about were mornings just like this with my dad and me. We would catch 50, even 100, trout between us in a two-hour span. I remember the two of us fishing in Harbour Town right after they built it, and it was just like this -- fish after fish after fish.

Maybe it was the Mitchell 300 that did it or maybe it was the fact that I had stuck to a plan -- whatever it was, it was about the finest couple hours of fishing I can remember in quite some time.

Covered in trout slime, I headed home with a smile on my face and peace in my heart. I would like to think that my dad was with me this past Saturday and, knowing the way he was, he probably had something to do with the way things went down.

This kind of a bite might not happen again for quite some time but that's OK because the memories will be there forever.

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