Dad took Rick and me on a weekend fishing trip to Christopher Creek when we were both in our early teens. I was thirteen Rick was tenteen. At the time, the trout bag limit was ten for an adult license holder and five for each young fisherman under fourteen.
The creek was flowing like a large irrigation ditch and where we camped was fairly straight for about twenty five yards both upstream and down. Beyond that, it was very rugged with boulder and fallen trees creating rapids and pools. The leaves of the few oaks scattered amongst the ponderosa pines started to turn yellowish orange and red now that the night time temperatures of early autumn were dipping below freezing. There were enough leaves that had fallen to make a quiet walk on the creek side trails a little noisy with the shuffling of our PF Flyers as we worked our way up the stream.
Dad taught us early on, how to sneak up on a fishing hole or bend in the creek where the bank may be under cut and the bottom dug out from the summer monsoon floods that violently recreate Arizona’s water ways each season. These are the best locations to find the cunning, wiry, trout. Our goal would be to quietly position ourselves behind some sort of cover just below these choice trout habitats. We would cast our lines upstream as far as we could without getting hung up in the tree branches covering the creek or on the rocks, bushes or grassy areas above the target.
As we would cast our line, we had to be ready to immediately maneuver our lines to keep the slack out allowing us to feel the hint of the strike and then to set the hook before it was rejected out of the trout’s mouth. This split second timing is what makes trout my favorite fish to catch.
After your bait or lure pass the pools there is one more chance to have success. That is in the area just below the pool but above the barrier of rock, fallen tree limbs, trunks or branches harvested and constructed as a dam by the beavers. This water tends to slow down because of its depth created by the restriction. It gives the fisherman time to catch up with the winding of the surplus line and then wait as the slow drift temps the trout with the bait. The strike happens in the blink of an eye. In this slower water you look for any sign of the take, whether it is the straightening of the curls in your line, the flash of the sleek fish darting toward your hook or what is called the •wink•, which is the opening of the trout’s mouth to take in its prize and displaying the white tongue in inner lining.
On our first day of fishing we caught just enough keepers to have fish for dinner served up with baked beans and bread. On our second day, Dad wasn’t having great success with our usual baits or lures so he tried something unconventional. He tied on a lure that we used on the lakes but was very unusual lure for creek fishing mainly because of the distance you had to work it. It was an Orange #5 Flat Fish with black dots on its body and was rigged with two small treble hooks and connected to his line with a #10 gold (brass) swivel. He had caught his limit in no time at all and then passed the lure on to Rick and then me to catch our limits. I’m not sure if was a special, unique combination of color or action that made this lure so deadly or if it was the just the right lure at just the right time. It was effective to say the least and we appreciated the creek side bonanza.
Walking back to our camp with our stringers full of fish, we drew the attention of another fisherman that wasn’t having much luck catching anything. He asked the standard questions like •Are you having any luck#? Well that answerer should have been obvious. Then “whatsya usin?” Dad told him about the Orange Flat Fish. The guy was kind of discouraged because he didn’t have anything like that in his tackle box. So he offered to buy it. Dad agreed and sold it to him for two dollars. I think he later would regret that sale because he never had one work as good as that one. He has since replaced that lure and tried it on several big lakes that it was designed to be used on and did not even get a strike. And what’s more, it cost him three dollars to replace it. Well, he did help out a fellow fisherman.