Angling has been around since God first made the earth, splashed on some water, threw a few fish in it and then created mammals, birds and man. We here in the US of A call it fishing. It seamed logical to me that since God covered two thirds of the earth with water, we are to spend two thirds of the time we have here fishing. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet, but since my early years, I have been programmed to get to some body of water to fish every chance I get. Sometimes it is at great cost and peril.
My first fishing experience came in the early 1950’s, when my Dad and Mom would take our family to Encanto Park in Downtown Phoenix on Labor Day. Mom would pack a picnic lunch that she would serve on a large blanket under a shade tree. There would be entertainment at the old band shell and periodic announcements about the traditional fishing contest in the lagoon, how to enter, categories of the contest like biggest fish, littlest fish, etc., and description of the prizes. They had prizes galore! One traditional prize was a new bicycle plus fishing gear and stuff like that.
The Encanto Lagoon was originally created as a dual purpose resource. It made great recreational water for canoeing, fishing or just strolling on the dirt paths on each side of the lagoon. What many people didn’t know was that it served as part of the air conditioning system for Saint Josephs Hospital. For all air conditioning systems to work there has to be some method to reject heat. On small air conditioning units, it is an outdoor coil with a fan blowing through it. On large buildings it would sometimes be a cooling tower with water pumped up to a distributor where the water cascades over louvers with a blower increasing evaporation which cools the water by rejecting heat created during the refrigeration process. Refrigeration is the process of taking heat out of something and putting it somewhere else. In this case Encanto Lagoon was used to reject the heat. It’s water was sucked into the hospitals equipment room through a large underground piping system, where it cycled though a heat exchanger that would increase the water temperature twenty to thirty degrees and then it would be sent back to the lagoon where the heat would be rejected by the natural evaporation process of the lagoon. The heat exchanger kept the lagoon water separated form the water that circulated in the hospital. The final result would be a cool hospital and a warmer lagoon. Why was this important for you to know? Not to educate you with history and principles of air conditioning? Not to impress you with what I know, but to help you understand that this warm water pumping into the lagoon made a perfect habitat for bass, catfish and carp to grow to enormous size. It was a fishermen’s paradise right in the middle of Phoenix.
So back at Encanto Park, Rick and I did all the fishing with Dad’s supporting effort in keeping hooks and bait on our lines. He sat up his tackle repair and bait shop on the edge of the blanket under the shade tree where he would comfortably do his fishing rod maintenance including untangling lines. His favorite position while waiting for his next customer was to lie on his back with his elbows in the air while his hands supported his head. He could actually sleep this way, and that was what he was doing until a practical joker bird decided to drop a little surprise from the branch above. Another benefit of the lagoon water is to wash bird poop off of your forehead.
Rick and I didn’t catch anything of any consequence to enter into the contest, but we had a great day of fishing at Dad’s expense.
My Dad took Rick and me fishing out of town a lot in our younger years. Our sisters didn’t fish and younger brothers were too young for the big fishing trips but Dad did take them to the local lakes as he did with Rick and me.
We all were good at tangling lines where we needed Dad’s assistance up until we reached the age of about tenteen. That’s the age when you want to show some independence and take care of your own equipment. Sometimes Dad would even have a problem if his line was getting old or he had a lure not spin and do a propeller number that would result in winding his line up where any slack would create a rat’s nest at his reel. But that’s what happens when you fish.
When Dad would take Rick and me to Willow Beach on the Colorado River just below Hoover Dam, he would swear that if he were fishing above the dam on Lake Mohave, and Rick was fishing below the dam at Willow Beach, that they still could get their lines tangled together. Willow Beach had tremendous trout in it. One New Years weekend Dad, Rick and I were fishing below the dam on a small sand bar. The water was swift so we had to throw our lines in from the upper end of the bar and then walk down the bank trying to keep up with our bait. Rick snagged on to a big trout just as he passed me going back up to the top of the sand bar. I stopped when I saw he had a fish on and told him to keep his pole up to put pressure on the line. Any slack would allow the fish the chance to get off. As the words came out of my mouth, he dropped his pole toward the water allowing slack in the line. Just then, I reached over and just barely touched his pole to indicate he should keep it up when the fish, with the opportunity to get loose, took it. Rick blamed me for the loss and I couldn’t come up with enough excuses to sell my defense. I touched his pole and paid the price.
As Rick and I reached our later teens we were going off on our own separate fishing trips. Dad started taking his next group of sons, Jeff, Doug and Phil. They probably have a few stories to share.
Years later the roles changed after Carol and I were married. Carol loved to fish. Chad was too young to fish so left him with my parents and went fishing at Willow Beach. Carol was pregnant with Heidi at that time. She found a spot where she could comfortable fish and was having great success catching trout. She called me over and showed me exactly where to cast my line so I could catch a few also. Not only that, she cooked them up and made a great fish dinner. I did help with the dishes.
Chad and Heidi did their part on fishing adventures to keep me busy in the fishing tackle and line untangling department. Heidi kissed the first fish she ever caught. She was a real animal lover. I could see her becoming a vet someday. Chad liked to fish for short spurts at a time. Then he would be off exploring or just constructing something with the rocks and twigs or finding lures that other fisherman lost. Then Jeremy came along. l–le took his fishing more seriously but also could entertain himself near the lake or stream building roads and playing with Chad and Heidi. You are never too young or too old to fish or at least pretending your fishing while you are out enjoying God’s creation.
Did this tidbit whet your appetite for what follows? Here is an accumulation of several stories that are very meaningful to me and my family. As a friend, you are welcomed to read along and imagine the beauty of Arizona and all the critters that are found here. If you are family, then I apologize in advance for any mention of you and yours in these stories. I hope I don’t offend anyone but I think I can get away with it because of my creative license, whatever that means. Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy a hot beverage while you adventure with us. If Jeff W. is with you, remember he likes his coffee extra black. Enjoy!
Oh yeah, if you find any errors in grammar or misspellings, I apologize for that too. I was going to go back and proof read, but it was too boring because I already know the stories. —LW