Downstream

by kfrego

Dad loved trout fishing. When season opened in the spring we would sometimes fish before all the ice melted from the rivers and brooks. We seldom fished when we didn’t catch trout.  We often traveled to fish the St. Regis River near Nicholville, NY. The river just upstream from Nicholville was good trout fishing. The water was two to three feet deep in most wide areas. There were many boulders, steep rock banks, and large deep pools. You could not fish this stretch of river without wading back and forth across the river. One of my fishing adventures happened on this stretch of the river.

Dad, Uncle Bob, and myself were fishing in the late spring. The weather was cool and breezy. The water was cold enough that you got out fairly often and let your legs warm up. Dad and Bob were wearing wool outer shirts. I had on an old leather jacket. As usual, Dad sprinted down the steep hill, hurriedly crossed the river, and headed for the best fishing holes. Uncle Bob fished upstream and crossed the river while I fished downstream. We were all catching fish and enjoying the day. When you’re catching fish the cool weather and cold water become secondary. By mid morning I could just barely see Uncle Bob upstream about half a mile away. Dad was long gone upstream.

Crossing the river was tricky. The water was between my knees and belt while negotiating across the round rocks laying in the bottom of the river. It was a constant balancing act to keep the current from knocking you down. About a third of the way across the river the current swept me off my feet. After a few tumbles by the water my reflexes kicked in, got me on top, and started me swimming for shore. This all took place while being carried rapidly downstream. My leather jacket was like wearing a straight jacket and trying to swim. Nearing shore the rocky bottom allowed me to regain my footing. One boot and sock was missing. My hat, creel, and fish were gone. The fish pole was still in my right hand, but the reel housing was broken. My whole body was shaking like a leaf, but there were no injuries. No one was in sight. My landing just happened to be on the opposite side of the river from where we parked. After a prolonged rest, my only alternative was to recross the river and get on the same side as the car. Every step, change of depth, and change of current got my attention. It was a great feeling to hit the other side.

The lost boot and battered reel weren’t that big of a deal………..the lost creel with the fish really hurt.

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