To say I was bitter would be an understatement. If I’d had a dog, I’d have kicked it. Nothing could cheer me up. My wife kept asking, “Why are you mad at me?” But it had nothing to do with her. All I wanted to do was sit and sulk.
I didn’t want to admit it, but the root of my bitterness was a string of fishing failures. In the last two weeks, I’d been fishing three times at supposedly stocked rivers, and all I’d caught was one measly trout.
When I think of all the time I’ve wasted driving across New England, all the $4/gallon of gas I’ve burned through, all the chores I’ve let go fallow for one very forgettable stocked nine-inch trout, it makes my face so long that I could eat butter out of a churn.
This isn’t how I imagined this trout season would go. How hard can it be to catch stocked trout? It seemed like the forces of the universe had lined up against me.
My bitterness needed someone to blame.
Why would the highway department close off the Green River Road during trout season? Why would MassWildlife stock the Assabet in Hudson and not in Marlborough? Why would the Westville Recreation Area close the gate that accesses the road that parallels the Quinebaug River? Why stock part of the Quinnepoxet River and not stock the other sections of it?
MassWildlife, though it cared not a bit, started catching the brunt of my ill-temper.
Why were 89 ponds and lakes stocked this year before the first creek, stream, or river was stocked? Why do they stock so many trout in ponds and put so few trout in rivers?
Does Peters Pond in Sandwich (which has already been stocked seven (7) times as of 4/19/22) really need multiple stockings of brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout? Is there anybody even in Cape Cod this time of year?
I wear my bitterness badly.
The reality I didn’t want to face is that I am still a second-rate fly fisherman after all these years. I had to either face that fact or believe that all trout in Massachusetts had suddenly gone blind. If I were a restaurant, I’d be a “Below Your Average Joe’s.” A greasy one at that. If I had a dog, it should kick me.
On Monday, Patriot’s Day, my wife had had enough and suggested I volunteer to examine any ticking packages that were found along the Boston Marathon route. Either that or go fishing. She knew I needed to break out of my slump, even though it could have meant another 0-for-day and deeper depression. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I had to face my failure, get back in the saddle, try-try again, etc.
My fishing buddy, Drydan (formerly known as Doover2), met me at a freestone river that’s relatively close to Boston. I figured if I wasn’t going to catch any fish, I shouldn’t drive very far to do it.
The river had been stocked about eight days previously. With the beautiful weather on the previous weekend offering great conditions for bait fishermen, the vast majority of the newly stocked trout were lying stiffly in freezers all over central Massachusetts. I didn’t have my hopes up.
But this time my mojo was different. On about my fifth cast, my indicator started moving up-current, and with a twitch of the rod tip, I began feeling that glorious pulsating action of a large trout who resented being hooked. The tug is indeed the drug. I reveled in the battle as the beautiful rainbow valiantly fought to stay out of the net, unsuccessfully.
Working our way through some skinny water, Drydan and I each caught four trout that had survived the weekend, yet they were fooled by our incredible fishing skills.
We moved to another location on the river and had even greater success with larger trout. We both reached double figures relatively quickly and decided to call it a day at about 2:30 pm. Though we could have caught many more trout, we wanted to let other, less skillful, fishermen have their chance.
Our praise of MassWildlife was profuse for their adroit management of Massachusetts fisheries.