Stray Casts: There is a reason it is called fishing

We finally got out the tackle on Saturday and managed to get in a goodly number of hours fishing.

For those who are new to the sport, the name of the game is fishing. That means, most spe­cifically, that it is not called “catching.”

The Stray Caster wonders if anyone would bother to fish if he (or she, we don’t want to be sexist, and besides, most wo­men anglers catch more fish than the Stray Caster, anyway) … Where was I? Oh yes. If every cast brought a spunky bass or leaping trout to the shore, people would have quit fishing years ago. Too easy. The mystique is in the chase, and success is a prize.

At least, that is what savvy anglers tell themselves after an entire afternoon of total futility. The Stray Caster headed with his new fishin’ pals, Hellene, 12, and Matthew-Adam, 7, to­wards Glen Allan Saturday afternoon, after spending a frus­trating hour of gathering and finding such necessities as tackle, rod, and a snack or three. Hellene had recently learned the Palomar knot and was anxious to try it. So, we handed her a jig, rubber worm, and a box of worms – and then got smartly out of her way.

It is almost difficult for the Stray Caster to believe, but neither of them has ever used live bait before. They are a far cry from the Stray Caster, who believed for years that spoons, plugs, and spinners were a plot by dealers to relieve him from his hard earned dough. He had never seen anyone catch any­thing with them (having fished nothing but small streams and ponds in his yout), and, since he himself did not know how to use them, he relied strictly on dunking worms, with some small success.

But both kids have been successful (quite successful, in fact) tossing Rapalas and tube jigs into ponds and rivers. Tube jigs do not require worms or minnows, unlike regular jigs, which most­ly do need them.

Generally, the Stray Caster believes he should not mess with success, but he admits that the prospect of having one fewer rod to rig caused him to understand and give in to Hellene’s desire to do her own stringing of rod and then tying and baiting as a great step forward for her in the angling game. And much relief for the Stray Caster.

Matt and I decided to use the tried and true Rapalas.

We learned, somewhat to our dismay, just how successful the brown trout stocking pro­gram has been in the Cones­togo River. There were a dozen anglers at the park in Glen Allan, and when some of them left, others took their place. A pair of fly anglers also wan­dered downstream, trying to match a hatch. The Stray Caster noted that swallows were busy darting over the river, a sure sign of a hatch, and the jumps of trout that seemed to be well over two pounds seemed to con­firm that fish were hitting bugs, not lures or worms.

Not one was interested in our fake minnows, or Hellene’s jig. We fished there for several hours, and the best the Stray Caster can say is that he was able to lift his arm the next day, and Matt and Hellene had some great casting practice.

We decided to hit the Mac­ton Bridge (not literally) on the way home, but its waters were even more crowded than Glen Allan Park. At Wallenstein, two fly anglers (Hellene noted one was a young lady) were busy casting to an interesting look­ing pool.

So, we stopped in Hawkes­ville, and cast for another hour or so. Again, nada. Matt got a major snarl, and, at one point, when he was outfitted with a jig that the sly old Stray Caster talked Hellene into tying onto his line, he sent his cast far beyond the Rapala tossed by the Stray Caster. The Stray Caster heard about that casting distance – all the way home ­- and the next day, too.

But, in the end, some smarts acquired over a lifetime of angling came to the fore. We stopped for a late dinner in Elmira. The kids had ham­burgers.

The Stray Caster, though, ate fish and chips!