by: Eric Allee 11/10/2017
I can still remember a pivotal fishing moment that completely changed my life. Letís face it at times kids can be jerks and I was no different. I started figuring out who was putting presents under the Christmas tree, superheroes werenít real, and Hulk Hogan didnít get that big by just eating his vitamins. I was begging to be the cynical kid who didnít believe in anything I couldnít see or touch. Iím sure everyone goes through that phase at one time or another, but in general Iíve always been a dreamer and someone who wanted to believe in the things that made me feel good. The things that made me feel like at any point in time something magical could happen to anyoneÖeven me. When I started finding out so many things I always believed in werenít real I started losing that youthful wonderment we all need.
We were up at Estes Park again for our yearly family trip. At this time I thought I had a pretty good handle on how to catch trout out of the Big T. It wasnít rocket science but I figured out how to drift salmon eggs and nightcrawlers down the river under a bobber. On a good day Iíd catch a handful of decent sized rainbows but at that time they were all cookie cutters. 14 or so inches and Iím sure stocked recently by the cabins we stayed in.
I grabbed my tackle box and rod and started heading towards the river when I ran into my grandpa. He was sitting on a bench in front of the river enjoying a cigarette and a cup of coffee. The smell of cigarettes has always bugged me but for some reason my grandpaís smoke never smelled bad. It was always mixed with the smell of freshly made coffee, newspaper, and his aftershave. We said good morning to each other and as I was walking away he said catch a big one buddy. As I was walking away I remember thinking ďya right.Ē Iíd never say anything like that to or around my grandpa, but Iíd be lying if that wasnít what I was thinking. Remember the jerk comment earlier, yup, that was me.
I wondered a little bit further than usual and found a big boulder a few feet off the bank of the river. It was far enough from the bank that it was about a 50/50 chance Iíd end up getting wet, but what the hell I knew Iíd end up in the river anyway. I made the jump without getting even a drop of that Big T on my sneakers. Put three salmon eggs on a hook and made a short cast to a current break a few feet in front of me. It took maybe two seconds before that bobber went racing down the river after a fish snatched my salmon eggs. After about a minute I had a rainbow, about 14 inches in my hands. I smacked it over the head on the boulder and tossed it up on the bank to gut later. I put three more salmon eggs on my hood made the same toss, and this time it took even less time for my bobber to start darting away. AgainÖ rainbow, around 14 inches, wacked it on the head, and tossed up on the bank.
The next half hour it was a rainbow about 14 inches every single cast. The fishing was so good I started running out of salmon eggs. I was having a blast but there was something missing that I couldnít put my finger on. After throwing another fish back I looked down at my salmon egg jar to put a couple more on my hook, but only had 5 salmon eggs left. I put three on, made the same cast, and low and behold another 14-inch fish. This was without a double the best trout fishing Iíd ever experienced but it was already starting to feel routine and a little dare I say itÖ boring.
I looked down at the two salmon eggs in the jar and damn near threw them in the water and left. I didnít like leaving any of the hook exposed thinking the fish wouldnít hit if they could see anything that didnít look natural. I figured Iíd better at least give it a shot before heading back up the cabins with a stringer full of trout to show my family. Now with two salmon eggs on I made the same cast Iíd been making for 45 minutes. Well I tried to make the same cast Iíd been making the entire time, but this time I was a little long. Instead of being in the calm water next to the current this time my rig fell into the faster water on the outside. I thought about quickly reeling it into the slower moving water on the inside, but thought what they hell I only have two salmon eggs on anyway maybe the faster water will knock them off the hook for me. Then my bobber made a dead stop in the fast water.
Without thinking I yanked back assuming I was snagged on a rock. Then everything went silent for a second. I hear my drag start screaming watch my bobber disappear downstream like itíd been shot out of a rocket. At the tail end of the pool I see a rainbow start rolling on the surface that looked to be at least twice the size of the fish Iíd been catching all day. I started reeling in and pulling as hard as I could hoping to get another glimpse of this behemoth. The line went slack and as I started reeling in I knew the fish had broke me off.
I sat down on the rock trying to wrap my head around what just happened. Listening to the river I kept playing that moment over and over again in my mind. At first I was devastated knowing I just lost a giant rainbow, but that only lasted a few minutes. After that I started questioning my recent assumptions on what was real and what was fake. I thought without a shadow of doubt the only thing swimming in the Big T was 14 inchers that were recently stocked. Walking back to the cabins I started looking at every hole wondering if there was another giant in it. Maybe there were fish even bigger than the one I just lost. The closer I got to the cabins the faster I walked until I was at an all-out sprint. I couldnít wait to tell my grandpa there are giant trout in the Big T!
After that day Iíve always allowed myself to feel the magic that comes along with fishing and knowing we never know whatís lurking below. I love catching fish, but a big part of my fishing is collecting moments I have a tough time putting into words.
Blog content © Eric Allee
Eric Allee (TigerHunter), CO 11/10/2017 9:04:29 PM
I talk about products from time to time, and to be honest I'll probably have to start doing that more soon. That being said I hope my contributions to the sport inspire people to get outside and experience what we all love so much. Without the business side and people who promote the sport I'm afraid it would die much sooner than many of us realize. I'm conflicted with pursing the business side of fishing for some of the stuff you mention in your post, but I'm okay with it knowing it'll help the sport grow and expose more people to what's enriched my life so much.
Lloyd Tackitt, TX 11/11/2017 6:01:13 AM
A great read Eric! Kids and fishing creates a magic that gets into the blood and never leaves. I wish every boy and girl could experience the magic the way you did. Santa and the tooth fairy are soon fond memories - but fish, fish they stay in our lives.
Smelly, CO 11/11/2017 9:17:25 AM
People have Redefined fishing over the years. First it was a means of gathering food. Then recreational passtime. Next up. Full blown competition!! This really is a TRUE story. Was fishing Grandview Ponds. Doing OK. few trout and occasional LM. Two kids walk up to me . Billborard jersey's , bag full of tackle. 1 spn. 1 cst rod each. They asked me how this water was "managed " . Cause they were Comp fisherman, lookong for a practise spot. Now. Despite what my wife says. I am nowhere NEAR as stupid as I look !! Their gear looked a bit mismatched. Comp fisherman don't tend to fish 1/2 oz Spinnerbaits on their spinning rods. I smiled, told them P n T trout and a fair amount of bass. At that point, they began flailling the water 10 " of either side of me ( they saw me catch fish ) ! Future of our sport ! REALLY ? Don't get me wrong. I'm ok with comp. It spawns innovation.Good things come as a result of it. And as far as commercialization ....HELL... I AM A TACKLEADDICT / RODAHOLIC ! I'm ..really ..really.. ok with it ! But for Pro competitors the " JUICE' ' is the competition,beating the other guy. NOT the activity they compete in. Our deffeniton of fishing and the enrichment , and wonderment , and the intangeable things we value is what's being replaced by it. To me. Thats Coyute's point. It's now Andy and Opie vs the PWT and Bassmasters.Our side ( you ,me,Lloyd, Coyute and a lot of others ) seems to be loosing.
Eric Allee (TigerHunter), CO 11/11/2017 9:43:26 AM
We are losing, but our competition is much tougher than it was when someone showed us the ropes. A lot of the business side of fishing makes me cringe and knowing some kids see that as fishing bugs the hell out of me, but I hope that they'll be able to have an "ah ha" moment where they realize that chasing fish might be what gets us outside, but it's so much more that keeps us yearning for more.
skiman, CO 11/11/2017 9:05:51 PM
Growing up, a buddy and I would dig up some garden worms, hop on our single-speed bikes and pedal several miles to a special spot that only the two of us knew how to fish. Back then, a 10Ē brookie was a ďtrophyĒ, and a brown a prize. They were simpler times back then, and the only catalog I remember was in print from rom Sears, and other than shad darts, bait and other basic necessities in mom & pop tackle shops, there was no real ďcommercialĒ side to fishing. We learned the basics from a hook and worm and on our own, sometimes learning a bit from an Outdoor Life or Sports Afield magazine. Itís sad to see the kids of today so corrupted by electronic and social media that they will missing out on the simplicity of the basics of fishing. I realize things are the way they are and arenít about to change, but itís still sad to see the commercial aspects of product endorsement, sponsors and $$$ís taint the art of simplistic angling. Iím glad I had that experience.
Eric Allee (TigerHunter), CO 11/12/2017 12:53:34 PM
Thanks for sharing Ski!
bron, CO 11/12/2017 6:12:26 PM
I really enjoyed this blog Eric, kinda takes me back several decades.
Coyute, CO 11/13/2017 10:54:15 AM
Good story and comments. That's what it's all about!
hashtag: hashtagsarelame :)
Skookshunter, CO 11/13/2017 11:00:37 AM
It really does change your mindset when you know there are giants lurking in the waters you fish. Knowing that you could be one cast away from a trophy fish really does provide a magical feeling. Nice blog.
Eric Allee (TigerHunter), CO 11/13/2017 12:32:33 PM