I spent a few hours in one of my happy places yesterday. It would not meet the “trophy place” criteria, a designation I like, coined by Steven Rinella in one of his Meat Eater episodes, but over the years these mundane places aggregate memories of small adventures and over time become magnetic in their own right.
After spending some time in “trophy country” out west chasing wild trout my enthusiasm for the hatchery brood stocked in my local waters has waned in recent years add young kids into that mix and I usually only spent a day or two chasing these trout every year with the aim to get one ritualistic meal and to justify the cost of the extra trout stamp required in addition to my fishing license.
The stream I went to is a place my father has taken me since before I could even reel a fish in. Every year for more than two decades it was the place my father and I, as well as occasional friends and extended family would head for the “opener”. It was in this place that I caught my first big fish when I was only 5 or 6 years old and I caught my biggest trout on a beautiful late May day in one of the big holes two decades later.
In this same deep, hole in high school where an equally cabin fever induced friend joined me on a winter trout expedition and he took an unintended swim in that freezing hole right in front of me. We can both laugh about it now but it took him a while.
As I walked the banks and waded the waters these people and occurrences ran through my mind. These memories are what make this place special. I added a memory of this place yesterday not of the fish I caught but someone else’s.
The highlight of this small adventure was watching from a distance as a young girl, perhaps 10 years old caught a big sucker up river. The excitement and joy was contagious as I watched grinning as the girl and her mother fought, fumbled and photographed the lowly sucker with unbiased pride.
When I get the urge to trout fish this is the place I imagine myself… happily.