They were on the water at 6:00 am and around 8:30 or just before that, Bill called to say they’d be packing it up soon – they’d caught more than their limit and would maybe fish for another half hour, just for fun, and then head back, with ten trout. I think there were 7 rainbow and 3 brown. Or maybe it was 8 and 2. The largest, a rainbow, was about 17” long.
Bill and the kids went fishing yesterday and the day before. It’s been raining for days, sometimes heavy, sometimes just a thick mist. Whatever the style of precipitation, it hasn’t been painting weather.
Anyway, they fished for skipjacks, which is the local term for baby bluefish. They’re fun to fish for because though they’re small, they fight just as hard as the bigger blues when hooked. Lots of fun to reel in.
Yesterday was a lazy, relaxed day. Summer is drawing to a close (school-year-wise, anyway) and we had had our In Spite of Danny's Rain double birthday/end of summer cookout-but-eat-in thing on Saturday, so Sunday was a day to tidy up after the chaos and do bits and pieces of fun things with the kids. They wanted to go swimming, so Bill took them to the pool and worked with them on diving (they're both learning how to in swim class now) and let them do laps. Hardly anyone else there, which was nice. I stayed home and puttered around yes - enjoying the silence.
And after that they wanted to go fishing, so we packed up some poles and headed off to City Park to try to catch skipjacks (baby bluefish).
The fish weren't there. Not a single bite, which is unusual this time of year. So the kids practiced casting. Julia has graduated to a nice pole and "grown-up" reel, so she was getting used to that, and Alex mainly worked on improving power and distance....
Bill and Alex stood out in the water, but Julia preferred to stay on the sand. She's not fond of crabs tickling her ankles.
But first things first. Take care of the itching.
Here she goes.
That's my baby!
Bill had taken the kids fishing for skipjacks a few days before this, and when they got home (with three fish- one apiece), Bill had Julia demonstrate her casting prowess in the back yard. He removed the hook and stood back. She stood at one end of the yard and first time out she hooked a tree. Second time - the skipjack rig went over the fence and into the yard of the neighbors behind us.
Wanna see more? Of course you do.
Look at the bend in that pole! That's power, baby!
It's funny. Their casting techniques match their personalitites.
Julia's is all power and snap.
Alex's is more careful and less aggressive.
Alex was content to cast over and over alongside his father...
Julia, however, has a shorter attention span, and since the fish weren't biting anyway, she and I prowled around nearby, looking for treasures.
Like seaweed...and blue crab claws...
And a teeny, tiny hermit crab residing in a periwinkle shell...
A crab shell...
But then...right after I took this picture...our peaceful meandering was interrupted by a yell from my husband:
Okay, this was last weekend, actually. On Saturday morning Bill took the kids fishing. It was raining and kind of cold at the time, so they didn't stay as long as they might have otherwise - the kids' hands were getting cold and it just wasn't an enjoyable experience.
Julia caught the one and only fish - a very nice yellow perch. She was very proud of herself.
And now, you may ask, how did you cook it, Jayne? How did it taste? Did Julia eat the eyes?
Well, since it was just the one fish, we figured we'd just let the kids eat it. Bill started cleaning it while I took pictures of Alex being silly (I'll post those another day). But when Bill began to fillet the perch, he noticed what at first looked like eggs that had burst from their sac. But they looked flat...kind of like red pepper flakes, only without the red. And the thing was, they were all IN the flesh. Not in the cavity like eggs should be.
Upon closer examination (and if you're squeamish, or eating, right now, you may want to read this later, or skip to another blog altogether)....
We were originally going to take the kids fishing yesterday morning, before Easter brunch at my cousin's house. But late on Saturday we changed that plan because it was supposed to be really cold Sunday morning. Monday looked warmer, so we agreed we'd go that morning.
Well, it was definitely cold yesterday - the Easter Egg hunt outside was a pretty speedy process - the kids ran around snatching bright plastic candy-filled eggs from nooks and crannies outside and some of the adults stood around either clutching hot coffee or cameras or our own bodies, teeth chattering, shoulders up at our ears, commenting repeatedly, like total strangers on a bus, on the cold, cold weather, and how it wasn't this cold LAST year, and so on.
Bill and I were looking forward to a warmer morning today.
We're still looking, because WE SURE AS HECK DIDN'T SEE ONE THIS MORNING.
Bill set the kids up with worms and daubers and we all stood there, watching the water, waiting.
In the cold. The freezing cold. Actually, the below-freezing cold.
Eventually we let the kids sit while they waited.
Nothing, though. No bites. Just coldness.
So we packed up and headed elsewhere.
Everyone was glad to be in the warm truck for a while as we drove to our next spot. This one is one of Bill's favorite spots to fish at Arcadia, and I am honor-bound not to tell you where it is.
He ultimately caught 7 brook trout there - in the now-windy coldness of the morning - but he let 3 go because they were very small.
Brook trout are native trout - born and raised in the local rivers, rather than raised in hatchery and dumped in select ponds a couple weeks before the second week in April. They are often smaller than the stocked trout, but they are far superior in flavor.
And so we headed home, 4 fish richer, to cook them up and eat either a second breakfast or an early lunch, depending on how you want to look at it.
Bill wanted to grill these little babies, so the first thing he did when we got home was to start the coals. Then it was inside to clean the little trout.
While he did that, I whipped up a batch of baking powder biscuits (Julia really, really wanted an egg sandwich and I'm out of bread), and some blue-corn pancakes, some plain and some with blueberries.
The fish took less than ten minutes to cook - I was still cooking pancakes when the fish came off the grill.
Soon enough, the pancakes were done and I had the kids clear and set the table so we could eat.
Bill, Alex and I each had a fish. Julia had the heads of two of them and her egg sandwich. I didn't have time to set up a prettier shot of the meal - I was starving.
There's nothing better than fish caught mere hours ago.
Or, if you're Julia, there's nothing better than the eyes of fish caught mere hours earlier. The trout were delicious - slightly smokey from the grill but still tasting of fresh freshwater fish. Nature's bounty on a plate.
This next shot is a picture of Alex - he said "Mom, take a picture of me" and struck the following pose. Unfortunately it's not all that sharp an image, but you can see the suave, so-fish-ticated expression on his face...
Julia, meanwhile, got a great kick out of cracking open the little skulls and looking for brains.
She's not squeamish at all, that one.
There was one final trout left, and Bill showed Alex how to carefully peel away the skin and gently pull the flesh from the bones.
Trout, like salmon, have a row of pin bones on each side of the fish, kind of perpendicular to the spine and rib cage.
The pin bones are easy to locate and remove if you're working with a large filet of salmon, but on a tiny little brook trout they're about as thin as a human hair, and therefore harder to locate visually.
And they're not pleasant to eat.
So it's important to understand the bone structure of the fish you're eating, if you want to have as pain-free a meal as possible.
And there it is. A small yield, but a whole lot of flavor.
Saturday, April 11th, was Opening DayofTrout Season 2009. For my husband, this is THE Holiest of Holy days in the entire year. He will not book performances on this day. he will not make plans to do anything with anybody no matter who they are, unless it is his nephew, Joe, or his friend John, and the plan is to be up super early and be on the water, rods baited and lifted, fingers holding the line still until it is exactly 6:00 am Eastern Standard Time. And then it begins. The casting, the jigging, the reeling, the catching, the cursing - all of it.
This year wasn't as good as lastyear. For one thing, it was raining and cold. A little drizzle isn't a bad thing, overcast is good, too. But this year was just cold and wet. Whether that was the reason for the minimal catch is debatable. Bill said it didn't look like anyone was catching much, and definitely nothing big. Joe caught the largest two fish - the biggest, which he hooked on his first cast, was 14.5 inches. They've caught bigger. Bill caught the smallest trout and a sunfish, which he released. They tried several spots, but it was not to be.
But anyway. Joe kindly gave us the two he caught, and after Bill filleted them I simply pan-fried them and served them with macaroni and cheese (for Julia) and pasta with butter and herbs for the rest of us. (And actually, for a change, Alex LIKED the mac and cheese, and so did Bill.)
Earlier this week we went fishing off the rocks - the East Wall in Point Judith. Bill actually did most of the fishing, as it's a little dangerous for the kids to be reeling fish in and standing on the wet rocks while the waves crash against them. But the kids played on the sand and calmer water on the other side of the wall and occasionally Alex would get to reel in a fish part way, and then Bill would take over so the fish wouldn't smash and scrape against the rocks.
On the morning after Opening Day of Trout Season 2008, Bill and I took the kids to Carbuncle Pond so they could fish for trout (Bill, Alex, and Julia) and I could walk a trail and take pictures. There's not enough room in the canoe for the four of us, and we can't exactly leave a kid behind, so I stay on land. But that's okay. I've had my turn. And will again, eventually.
We parked right near the ramp down to the water, and while Bill and I carried the canoe and related stuff down to the shore the kids climbed up and down the rocks and amazingly remained scrape-free.
It was a beautiful morning. Some clouds, but that was okay. Fishing's sometimes better when it's cloudy or overcast. Rain was predicted, but not until later in the day.
Once Bill had the canoe ready to go, he herded the kids aboard
and away they went.
(See the little giraffe dangling off the side, sort of right below Julia's hair? It's for casting practice in the back yard, instead of using actual sinkers or lures. Alex's is a frog.)
I took pictures as they headed away from me, and then I set off on the little trail that runs around the perimeter of the pond. The little hike was nice, actually, as it warmed me up a bit. I reached a clearing - looked like a little camping area, maybe, and had a better view of Bill and the kids, so I sat down on this stone bench and just took pictures of the water and canoes and sky and all that. I had the telephoto lens on, so I was also able to track the progress of my three intrepid fishermen (or fisherpeople).
First catch was Alex's - one of many sunfish. Bill helped a bit.
Here's a slightly closer view...
I think Bill said they ended up catching (and releasing) about 5-6 sunfish. Alex also had a trout on, but it got off before they could reel it in.
While they fished, I wandered around the area a bit and snapped a few pictures.
Eventually, and predictably, Julia grew tired of hanging out in the canoe, so Bill headed over to the clearing so Julia could hang out with me while the boys continued fishing.
Note the look of brave patience on our little martyr's face.
Their ride toward me provided me with a few more pretty shots. Practically silhouettes - the sun, when not hidden by gathering clouds, was so bright.
They dropped her off, and then headed back to the other side of the pond.
I took Julia for walks in the area, and we kept an eye on Bill and Alex. When they seemed to be wrapping things up, we started following the trail back toward the truck.
And that was our morning. Not a bad start to the day.
And after a quick trip home to switch vehicles and get something to eat, we were off on our next adventure of the day - a trip to Southwick's Zoo. But that's another story.
A couple of Saturdays ago, Bill and I took the kids and some clam rakes and metal baskets and gloves and the kids' plastic gardening tools and my camera down to Galilee to dig clams. Bill had bought about four pounds of soft shell clams, or steamers, earlier, but in order to do the clambake we needed rockweed (a type of seaweed) and since we had to get that, we might as well dig for more steamers while we were there.