Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Fishing Evolution

      I can still remember the excitement I had when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was the night before the first day of Pennsylvania trout season. Sitting in my parents kitchen with my dad concocting the secret bait. I can not remember the recipe, but I can sure remember the smell. It smelled like when you drive by the mushroom factory out towards Reading.
       This secret bag of crap was whispered down the line at my dads work, and it was going to be the holy grail for trout catching.
      I would go to sleep early, because we had to wake up before the birds to grab our spot on the Little Lehigh. The car ride to the stream was quiet as I would still be trying to wake up and wipe the sleep from my eyes. The drive from Catasauqua to Allentown took you through center city and the time linked traffic lights. Every time you think you were going to hit a red light it would miraculously change to green. I was in amazement of this at the time. Like my father was a wizard who had the power to make this feat happen (I now know you just have to drive 35mph). I was hoping he could do that to the fish.
First Day of PA Trout
      My father would lay out a blanket for me to sit on as he walked up and down the banks of the smooth flowing stream to find the sticks our spinning rods would sit on. The yells up and down the stream from other fishermen saying it was time to cast in the line reverberate through my mind still to this day. My dad would cast both rods and we would sit there and wait....and wait.....and wait. I would stare at the tip of the rod hoping for a twitch. Then it would happen, a little jiggle, then a little more. Dad would yell at me not to touch it. Slowly he would pick up the rod and wait for that twitch again. Then he would set the hook and roll on his back as if he was hooking the largest fish in his life and he really wanted that hook penetrating. Once he knew the fish was on, he would hand me the rod and I would reel it in as fast as I could. I did not know about line test and if the fish would snap off. I did not know because my dad would use 10lb test and catfish rods. so those 10 inch trout did not have a chance!
Wehr's Dam and Covered Bridge
            We did not go fishing frequently together because he worked two jobs to help support us. However, our excursions would always take place early mornings when he got home from working night shift or we would head to Jordan Creek at night to catfish or whatever would bite on his days off. Fishing memories will last forever and are something you never forget. Example,  the eels we would catch and my father trying to get the hook out only to get slimmed up and end up burning the mono with his cigarette, then kicking the eel back in the water. Or sitting along Hokendaqua Creek and the bats flying around out lantern grabbing the moths and other insects searching for light. Those eventful nights are what began to form me into the fishermen I am today.
      By the time I was 15-16 I strayed away from my fathers fishing adventures and began fishing with high school friends. My friend Ryan and his brother Aarron lived right by Wehrs Dam on Jordan Creek. Their father was a former chef and would cook all the trout we would catch those days and they were always delicious. We kept everything, because we knew know better. We watched a gentlemen catch trout after trout one day. He gave us some of his "secret bait" and we began hooking up non stop. He told us the bait was raw eggs and flour mixed together to make a Power Bait light yellow textured substance. We ran back to ryans house and cleaned his parents out of eggs. We found OUR secret hole those days. it is not much of a secret anymore, but every first day I fish that hole. I think other fishermen that frequent that creek during the first day of fishing even acknowledge it as "Shane's Hole".  This coming trout season it will be 15 years in a row fishing there. Till I was out of high school we really only fished the first couple weeks of the season and then my friends and I would do what teenagers do.
Cementon Bridge
      I graduated from high school and had some trouble in my life. I ended up losing my drivers license for 3 years and seemed like most of my friends. I could not drive and it seemed like I was an outcast. I found fishing again.
Bait Chucker
       My mom would drive me to work and pick me up and we would always drive over the Cementon bridge. This structure spans the Lehigh River and there is a dam 100 yards down stream called Northampton dam. This is where I fell in love with the "Mighty Lehigh". One day I asked my mom to drop me off at Willies Bait shop which overlooks the Lehigh at this spot. I took my dads fishing rod down below the dam with some night crawlers and immediately hooked up with a fish that pulled line out of my reel as I have never seen before. I could not stop this fish and it basically spooled me and snapped me off. I never saw it, but I think it might have been a carp. A man that ended up becoming a good friend and mentor walked over to me laughing. He could tell I did not know what was going on. We would run into each other most every off day or after work. He was referred to as fish neck by the bait shop regulars, because of his rainbow trout tattoo on his neck. He would teach me how to spin a minnow, what a butter worm was and how to properly rig a night crawler. I learned how to tie my own leaders what kind of weight to use for certain conditions and a proper drift. I became a fixture in the bait shop and would sit and hang out in there all day long, learning from the "pro's" and fishing with some great bait fishermen. Nicknames were thrown around the shop like Strappy, River Rat, and Meater. Willie even ended up finding me my current house.
My Youngest Ate One of These
      I got my license back when I was 22 and fishing began to take a back seat. I found a better job, began hanging out with friends, frequenting bars and ended up meeting my wife (not in a bar). Fishing turned into the first couple weeks of the trout season and that was about it. Maybe a bass pond with my wife's cousin every now and then.
       I still loved the Lehigh and we ended up moving in a town that bordered some of the best water to fish on it. My wife's cousin got older and we began fishing non stop. One day we decided to help stock fish on the Lehigh with a local organization called the Lehigh River Stocking Association or LRSA. I took an interest in what they were trying to do. Water quality and making the Lehigh River a better place. This is where I was truly introduced to fly fishing. I became a board member and one of the officers told me he had a three person pontoon boat and I could come out with him if I would like. He brought his fly rod and I brought my spin rod. I hammered fish throughout the day until dusk. Then the bugs came out and fish were feeding on top everywhere we looked. He began hooking fish after fish on a Sulphur dry fly and all I could do was sit back and watch. That was a year and a half ago. I have since left that organization and become a board member of the Western Pocono TU. I touch a spin rod maybe three times a year. I have become fully addicted. I fish whenever possible and in all weather. When I was a spin fishermen I focused only on the Lehigh Valley creeks. Now I travel all over the state and other states searching for new waters, new species and new friends. Fly fishing has changed me and it has caused me to evolve in the way I think about streams, conservation, and life in general.
       I have wrote this blog, because I was challenged  by Howard over at Windknots and Tangled Lines Blog. He came up with an excellent contest that made me think about how I have become what I am today. Check his blog out and enter his contest if you would like. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and if you did not sorry I wasted the 5 minutes it took you to read it.
Fly Fishing the French Fry Hole.... Photo Taken By Dub The" New Daddy" Thorax



  1. LMAO How did I miss doing that?

  2. I couldn't help but laugh at the 7th st light sequence. My best friend in HS lived in coplay and I would make that drive all the time to get home to allentown at night...although 25 mph was always my magic number once i got into town...

    very cool post!

  3. Well, I certainly enjoyed it, thanks!

  4. Gfen, Fishneck has since passed away, he also was missing half his foot from a shotgun blast. As messed up as he was, he taught me a crap load of fishing knowledge.

  5. A great story...I enjoyed it very much.

  6. It's amazing how one can stumble on one blog and find several others all located around the Lehigh Valley. Nice to see some pictures of home.

    Cheers and keep up the good work.

  7. The french fry hole looks tasty, and first day in PA looks like a combat. Good read.