|Trout Truck at Dacey's rustic boat launch site. The sign says: |
"ARTIFICIAL LURES ONLY
ONE TROUT LIMIT, ALL YEAR
UPPER END CLOSED
NO MOTORS FEB 15 - AUG 15."
These regulations help to keep the Dacey trout fishery in top condition.
This is the time of year elementary students are cutting, painting, and creating all sorts of Thanksgiving papers that their moms and dads will affix to various kitchen appliances and cabinetry in celebration of the things the child is thankful for. You never really know what your youngster might write on these papers, particularly if their teacher doesn’t attempt to influence their selection so as not to embarrass the parents. You can imagine parents across the country rhetorically asking, “What the hell are they teaching my kid?”
My eight-year-old daughter came home at the break with the ubiquitous turkey paper, and on the backside she listed the three things she was grateful for this season: “God, my parents, and my pets.” I could only smile when I read her paper; mind you, this was a product of a secular school.
|This was the largest trout I landed. It was probably 9 inches when|
stocked last spring, and is now a healthy 12-13 inches. I landed about
10 trout, but two that suffered hook pull-outs would have adequately
filled the Fishpond landing net.
|To give perspective to other blog pictures of 19 inch and larger trout in|
my Fishpond net, this is what a 12-13 inch trout looks like inside it.
Apostle Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). In this letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the many blessings we, the church, receive from Jesus (note the lower case “church” connoting believers and not a specific building or religion). These are blessings we are freely given, but cannot earn. For Christians, the gift of salvation through the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is at the top of the list. But even for non-believers, surely they did not pick their parents, the country or nation they were born into. Although there are environmental factors at play, our personalities and inherent talents seem to grow out of us from nowhere. We don’t seem to pick them as much as they pick us.
Put another way, could you be as thankful if you were born to abusive parents who were addicted to their sins, inflicting all sorts of physical and emotional pain on your childhood? What if you were born into poverty, or in a nation where human rights didn’t exist? What if you were born with a disability, or with a progressive condition that prevented you from enjoying good health? What if you dreamed of a life with talent in areas like music, singing, art, or even areas like mathematics or writing? Certainly these skills can be learned and developed to various levels of proficiency, but real talent is usually something we easily recognize and refer to as “a gift” for good reason. What about our physical attributes? While diet and exercise, and dare I throw in surgical procedures, can improve things, we really can’t make ourselves taller or shorter, big boned or thin boned. If you don’t have the gift of strength, quickness or hand-eye coordination you’ll never improve enough to play a sport at the professional level.
|Caught lots of these recently stocked rainbows, all in the 9-10 inch|
range. You'll notice I was hoping for much larger quarry based on
this beaded woolly bugger's hook size.
Contentment, being at peace with yourself and your condition wherever you are in life, is also a gift from God. It’s a contentment flowing from the certainty that you are saved through Christ, and that you are an eternal being who will live within the peace and glory of The Lord after your earthly death just as surely as Jesus rose from His earthly grave to be reunited with his Father in heaven. This level of contentment, no matter your status or condition in this worldly life, is truly a gift from God.
So yes, I am thankful for all the gifts God has freely given me, even those that I occasionally wish I could return for another.
This visit to Dacey on the day before Thanksgiving was a reminder of the gift of contentment. I had hopes of at least a few large trout. I had hopes of peace and serenity while viewing wildlife in awe inspiring conditions. And although those hopes and aspirations were achieved on some level, I’d be lying if I didn’t confess some level of disappointment. But I’ve been fishing enough to know that these adventures are always different than my expectations, and that they always offer their own elements of peace and awe if I’m willing to look for them.
|Notice the grey heron peeking at me as I drove|
over the dam. Notice also his size in relation to
the white billed coots floating on the dead weed
bed to the left of him.
In the mid-afternoon I did hook a couple of large trout that I got to see pretty clearly. The first one eventually came to the surface and began to tail slap the tippet that held the hook in its jaw. I’ve seen this action before with large trout, especially in reservoirs. I could see the length of its body, especially the width of its tail as it slapped at the tippet, and I judged the rainbow trout to be about 16 - 17 inches. It was about 30 feet away as it thrashed on the surface, and it was successful with the last tail slap. It became an LDR statistic. The second big rainbow, not that long after the first, was brought within arm’s reach of the Water Master fishing craft. I could tell it was large when I felt its head thrashing from the depth of the reservoir, something an angler never forgets from the very first time he experiences the vibrations of a large fish. I immediately spun the slack line onto the Galvin reel with my left hand, hoping the hook wouldn’t pull out. I got it onto the reel and managed to play it within a net-handle length of the Water Master. I could see its full body, especially its broad, dark green back just a few inches from the surface. I knew it was at least 20 inches, maybe a lot more. As I reached back for the handle of the Fishpond landing net… the hook pulled out. The beast calmly finned its tail and moseyed back into Dacey’s darker depths. I confess I was angry.
But, it was a magnificent and beautiful fish. Losing a good fish before you can boat it is one of those things that comes with the territory. You don’t land every fish you hook, and the odds are worse the larger they get. You learn to be thankful you could even be on the water, that you actually caught any fish, let alone hook one close enough that you were blessed to witness its awesome beauty and significant size. Most people never get to experience even a sliver of that angling euphoria. My disappointment quickly vanished into thankfulness.