Saturday, April 01, 2006

Port's Hole

The afternoon sun glowed warmly high in the sky, as I approached a pool of childhood memories. It was just as I had remembered; a large pool of crystal clear stream water, deeper than the rest of the stream, with plenty of fallen leave foliage flatted on the bottom, creating camoflauge for the bounty of trout that were likely meandering just above the leavy, sandish bottom.

It was "Port's Hole", the first place I ever spent fishing on opening day.

I remember that day so many years ago. It was me, my father, my uncle and my two cousins. I was armed with a fishing pool and an arsenol of waxworm. I remember catching a couple trout, and I remember my uncle, an experienced spin fisherman (spinners are metallic lures that "spin" in the water) pulling out trout after trout.

And so, this impression of the streambed left a permanent impression on my mind.

What happened to Port's Hole not long after that was rather tragic, but a natural process -- it had filled in and become much more shallow due to some flooding. There were virtually no trout in it, with the exception of a few native brookies. However, years later, here I was checking up on it, and yet another flood had carved it back into place.

As I said before, the sun was blazing, and I was reminiscing at the magic this hole seemed to present that rainy day so many years ago. A gnarled pine tree stood just as I remembered it on the other side of the stream. The roots stretched off the bank into the water, creating a hiding place for the smaller baitfish the trout were undoubtedly hunting.

I hear a sticatto rattle. It's a Belted Kingfisher, calling from a sharp broken branch off the trunk of the pine. Competition! Cerulean blue in color, with a rusty pink band across it's belly, and a heavy almost heron like bill, it's actually a pigeon sized bird that dives for smaller fish, including young trout. He sat erect on one of the branches, bathed in sunlight. Knowing I was the more experienced fisherman (who wasn't limited to fish under 6 inches), he flew away in typical bouncy kingfisher fashion.

Did you ever anticipate something so much that you didn't want to go forth with it? If you've ever experienced that, that's exactly how I felt.

The pool of water was deep, so I stayed in the shallows. Up ahead I could see the shadowy depths, and with a sharp jolt of the wrist I sent my spinner streaming through the air.


It had barely disturbed the water surface, and I began reeling, now an experienced spin fisherman just like my uncle so many years ago. It reeled through the white foamy mouth of the hole, where the water poured in. The lure flickered, and I slowed my reeling so that it would 'swim' deeper as I approached the depths of the hole.

Instantly there was a vicious flash of silver as a trout snapped at my lure. He jumped from the water, a voracious hunter -- a 12 inch rainbow trout. As I reeled him in, he flopped around, silvery in color, with soft rosy hues on his lateral line, typical of the rainbow trout.

Each tug, and fight...flickers of silver, pink, or yellow...depending on the species.

I caught twelve beautiful fish at Port's Hole that day, releasing each into it's cold watery retreat soon afterwards. So satisfied was I, that I gave my hands a quick wash in the cold water, and had a sandwhich on the bank.

Some of the fish were rainbows, some brook trout, others were the fiesty brown trout. All were beautiful.

Some of the trout lunged from the water. Some pulled my line deep into the shadows. But all gave me unbridled joy.

And so, I picked up my rod, packed my waterbottle and junkfood wrappers into my backpack, and walked away from Port's Hole, turning back to see the sparkling waters one last time, already anticipating my next visit.

Just 13 days.