First Fish thread

TheFrood

Active Member
#1
Hey all. I thought it would be fun to start a thread about all of ya'lls earliest fishing memories. If this has already been done I apologize but
what the heck... sometimes it's fun to freshly rehash old memories (new thread for old memories?)

My first fishing memory is at Jenks Lake up on the way to Big Bear Lake in Southern California. It was probably 1978 or 1979. My
family was up there for a picnic... Parents, younger sister, cousins, and grandparents. This was before there was anything built around the lake.
There were some massive tree trunks floating in the lake that we loved to swim out and play on. I remember trying to stand on it as it would
roll beneath us, slick from moss growing on it and unstable as it would roll. Kids laughing and playing lumberjack seeing how long we could
stay afoot standing on it.

But this is a fishing memory so this story should focus on the fishing.

I still remember my father's yellow plastic tackle box. It had one old red and white daredevil lure, an assortment of smallish brass treble hooks, a couple bobbers, and some egg sinkers. My father wasn't a fisherman. His default rig was a Carolina rig and I'm not sure if he even knew any other rigs. There was a container Zeke's garlic cheese bait and there always seemed to be a half full container of Fire Balls salmon eggs. Red straw-like hook remover tool. To this day I'm not sure if he knew how to tie anything else or if he even knew any knots other than basic square knots.

He set up my pole, a little Zebco child's button activated pole. He rigged it and I proudly put the nightcrawler on the hook myself. Cast it out. My father had a pole in the water, and my grandmother was also fishing. I was the only one getting bites. Small trout, one after another. No idea what kind they were but most likely they were either brookies or rainbow. I don't know how many fish I caught that day, and they weren't large... not even pan-sized and before going home they were all released I think. Or maybe my grandmother kept then. I don't remember eating them. Just the warm summer day on the lakeshore with family members who have been gone for years. Basking in the pride and jealousy of my father ("Beginner's luck!"). And enjoying his smile as he fished next to me.

I skunk more frequently than I catch, but whenever I touch a pole flashes of that day pass through my mind. It doesn't matter the type of pole or where I'm fishing. It's
not whole reminiscences. Just glimpses, but the brief flashes of remembered happiness keeps me reaching for my tackle box over and over again. Over the years new memories have been added on. Late-nights in San Leandro marina fishing the bay with friends, meeting up to wet a line after work or bouts of late-night fishing watching movies on an iPad in the dark listening for the bells on our rods to ring. Showing up and not caring that the waterline was 50 yards away from the rock wall of the jetty when we happened to show up on a very low tide.

I miss those days, and look forward to the ones ahead, and of new friends and new experiences gradually becoming more fond memories.
 
#3
Hey all. I thought it would be fun to start a thread about all of ya'lls earliest fishing memories. If this has already been done I apologize but
what the heck... sometimes it's fun to freshly rehash old memories (new thread for old memories?)

My first fishing memory is at Jenks Lake up on the way to Big Bear Lake in Southern California. It was probably 1978 or 1979. My
family was up there for a picnic... Parents, younger sister, cousins, and grandparents. This was before there was anything built around the lake.
There were some massive tree trunks floating in the lake that we loved to swim out and play on. I remember trying to stand on it as it would
roll beneath us, slick from moss growing on it and unstable as it would roll. Kids laughing and playing lumberjack seeing how long we could
stay afoot standing on it.

But this is a fishing memory so this story should focus on the fishing.

I still remember my father's yellow plastic tackle box. It had one old red and white daredevil lure, an assortment of smallish brass treble hooks, a couple bobbers, and some egg sinkers. My father wasn't a fisherman. His default rig was a Carolina rig and I'm not sure if he even knew any other rigs. There was a container Zeke's garlic cheese bait and there always seemed to be a half full container of Fire Balls salmon eggs. Red straw-like hook remover tool. To this day I'm not sure if he knew how to tie anything else or if he even knew any knots other than basic square knots.

He set up my pole, a little Zebco child's button activated pole. He rigged it and I proudly put the nightcrawler on the hook myself. Cast it out. My father had a pole in the water, and my grandmother was also fishing. I was the only one getting bites. Small trout, one after another. No idea what kind they were but most likely they were either brookies or rainbow. I don't know how many fish I caught that day, and they weren't large... not even pan-sized and before going home they were all released I think. Or maybe my grandmother kept then. I don't remember eating them. Just the warm summer day on the lakeshore with family members who have been gone for years. Basking in the pride and jealousy of my father ("Beginner's luck!"). And enjoying his smile as he fished next to me.

I skunk more frequently than I catch, but whenever I touch a pole flashes of that day pass through my mind. It doesn't matter the type of pole or where I'm fishing. It's
not whole reminiscences. Just glimpses, but the brief flashes of remembered happiness keeps me reaching for my tackle box over and over again. Over the years new memories have been added on. Late-nights in San Leandro marina fishing the bay with friends, meeting up to wet a line after work or bouts of late-night fishing watching movies on an iPad in the dark listening for the bells on our rods to ring. Showing up and not caring that the waterline was 50 yards away from the rock wall of the jetty when we happened to show up on a very low tide.

I miss those days, and look forward to the ones ahead, and of new friends and new experiences gradually becoming more fond memories.
Jenks Lake is one of my favorite fishing spots. I've caught countless small bass and sunfish off of the pier by the main parking lot, and to this day, this lake is one of the only freshwater fishing spots that I go to and expect to catch fish. And if the fish aren't biting at the lake, the Santa Ana River South Fork is a short drive away, where trout are always biting in the cool shade. With its beautiful scenery and quiet location in the San Bernardino Mountains, the Jenks Lake Pier is one of my favorite fishing piers in California, even though it is not located in the Pacific Ocean or the Sacramento River.
 

TheFrood

Active Member
#4
Jenks Lake is one of my favorite fishing spots. I've caught countless small bass and sunfish off of the pier by the main parking lot, and to this day, this lake is one of the only freshwater fishing spots that I go to and expect to catch fish. And if the fish aren't biting at the lake, the Santa Ana River South Fork is a short drive away, where trout are always biting in the cool shade. With its beautiful scenery and quiet location in the San Bernardino Mountains, the Jenks Lake Pier is one of my favorite fishing piers in California, even though it is not located in the Pacific Ocean or the Sacramento River.
I live in Moreno Valley... try to hit the coast most Saturdays. Haven't been to Jenks Lake in years. Let me know if you ever want to wet a line! I've never tried fishing Santa Ana River. Do you fly fish there, or still use standard gear?
 
#6
I live in Moreno Valley... try to hit the coast most Saturdays. Haven't been to Jenks Lake in years. Let me know if you ever want to wet a line! I've never tried fishing Santa Ana River. Do you fly fish there, or still use standard gear?
Most of the other fishermen I see are fly-fishing, but I just use standard gear. I used to use Powerbait or Mouse Tails on a carolina rig with a size 8 live bait hook, but now I just use a Kastmaster and make 3-5 casts in each pool in the creek. If no trout bite, I move on to the next pool.
 

fish-ninja

Well-Known Member
#9
My uncle took me after my father passed away to goby fishing in Kabaike, Aichi, Japan. Goby cooked in sweet soy sauce is a delicacy prepared for new year meals there. Every year my uncle went to a local pier using slow trains in the summer when goby become larger and biting there. He caught enough for the entire winter including the new year special meals. I was about 7 or so when he took me with. I recall catching those funny looking fish after fish with lugworms. Today, I do many styles of fishing but I always come back to the pier fishing because of him. I really do not recall talking much with him. He was always drank when I saw him in family events. But he instilled me the joy of fishing and reading books. I am forever thankful for that.
 

fish-ninja

Well-Known Member
#10
And Jenks. I also had many memorable outings there myself also to south fork santa ana. DFW had been planting rainbow trout past decades and I used to go there to catch some to practice my smoking skills.... The planters were at the lower section of santa ana south fork. Near Jenks, all wild browns that be fun with artificials.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#11
My first pier fish from my Crystal Pier article —

Small though Crystal may be, this pier has long held special affection for me for a number of reasons. Most prominent is the fact that it was the pier where my initial introduction to ocean fishing took place and where I would catch my first ocean fish. The experience would provide an entryway into a sport that to this day helps define my life.

My family moved to Pacific Beach in the “I Like Ike” era of the ‘50s, 1957 to be exact. We lived in a small house that was located just a few yards off of Garnet Avenue and at the ocean end of Garnet Avenue sat Crystal Pier. My mom liked the ocean and so a few days after our arrival we rode the bus down to the end of our street. The bus stopped at the corner of Mission Boulevard and from there you walked a short half block to the arched blue and white entrance of Crystal Pier. The pier seemed old but had a fresh coat of paint and you could feel the timbers sway as the waves pushed their way ashore on the fairly short pier. We didn’t fish that day; instead, we just watched the waves, the swimmers, sunbathers, sea gulls—and fishermen. Eventually we left and walked over to the Oscar’s Drive-In, a restaurant on the corner of Mission and Garnet. They had great milk shakes and burgers and we sampled both.

Of course the discovery of that pier meant a return visit—to fish, was necessary. It was a long walk from our house to the pier but it seemed like a much shorter journey on my flashy, red and shiny chrome Schwinn Jaguar bike. It was a gift from my dad and would be my main means of transportation for many years. I don’t know how long the trip took but anticipation seemed to lessen the distance (although it seemed far longer coming home).

Garnet Avenue was different then—not quite as crowded, absent the shopping centers of today, and the traffic was actually tolerable. I headed out, tooled past Brown’s Military Academy (wondering what life was like in that starchy school), zipped past the bowling alley where my dad sometimes worked, checked out Oscar’s, and then arrived at the pier. It cost money to fish the pier, twenty-five cents I believe, and you had to go into the motel office to pay your money. Soon they would open the gate and you could head out to the end.

I was a newbie on that first visit, basically clueless as to what I was doing, but somehow I managed to catch a fish that day. It wasn’t much of a fish, in contrast to the fish I had read about in magazines, and the fish was caught on a hand-line, not one of the beautiful rods and reels you saw in the magazines. But the rig worked! My mom had given me an inexpensive set-up that consisted of heavy, green Dacron line wound around a wooden contraption that looked like four Popsicle sticks stuck together. To the end of the line I attached a long-shanked Mustad hook and a small sinker, both items I had discovered in the garage next to the house. You had two choices as far as casting, unwind the line and then toss it out, or slowly unwrap the line and drop it straight down. The former was more fun but it seemed like most of the bites were down around the pilings (a lesson I remembered).

It took me a few hours but I finally managed to catch a fish using a small piece of shrimp. Then, as soon as I caught the fish, I stopped fishing and headed home to show the prize. But before I had even gone a block I made a short detour. A quickly drying fish, held up by a pudgy young angler, was proudly paraded through the nearby Oscar’s Restaurant. I’m sure that all those lucky patrons munchin’ on their 44-cent double-deck burgers and slurpin’ up their 25-cent creamy shakes were impressed.

It may have seemed exciting to me at the time but, as said, I hardly had a clue. But emotion and logic come from different worlds; I was proud of that fish. To this day I have a picture of the fish but cannot tell what kind of perch it was (not positive it was even a perch). I do know we ate it for dinner that night after my mom cleaned it.

My family left San Diego soon after that inaugural trip to the pier and it wasn’t until seven years later, in April of 1964 that I would return to the Crystal Pier. By the time of my return I was a far different and more accomplished angler. I had spent many a day learning the basics at the Newport Pier. Now I just needed more time on the piers.

Unfortunately, our new home was inland in sun-baked Santee, just a little too far from the ocean for my trusty Schwinn bike, the bike that had served me so well on my earlier visit. No problemo! I was in high school and soon I had a big-time, $1.00-an-hour-job at Jack in the Box. Greedy capitalist that I was, even then, I saved my hard-earned money looking for the perfect investment. That investment came in the form of a light blue ’55 Ford that I purchased for the princely sum of $100. It came equipped with white sidewall tires and a great big Ahoooooga horn. I now had some wheels and the American freedom of the road beckoned (especially since gas was 18 cents a gallon and included green stamps, blue chip stamps and/or a free glass when you filled up).

Transportation meant that I was able to fish whenever I wasn’t working or going to school and during the next five years I would be a regular visitor to all of the area’s piers. Crystal would prove to be my most productive San Diego pier: it yielded the highest number of fish per hour as well as good numbers of big fish, especially halibut and shovelnose guitarfish.
 

moonshine

Active Member
#12
My father took the family on a classic road trip across half the U.S. on Route 66. When we hit Oklahoma City, we turned north toward the tiny town of Perry, Oklahoma. Dad wanted to visit some friends who’d moved there the year before. I was dying of boredom until I met Mr. Chelf, an elderly next-door neighbor. He gave me a cane pole and showed me how to fiddle for worms in his vegetable garden. I was amazed at how they squirmed from the earth to escape an unknown predator.
With an old coffee can full of worms, we drove out to the local reservoir. Mr. Chelf showed me how to tie the hook and line to the end of the pole. I flipped the line into the muddy brown water and hooked a perch with nearly every cast. I filled a galvanized bucket with those frisky fish.
Back at the house, Mr. Chelf showed me how to clean a fish. He then handed me his old fishing knife and let me clean a few myself. We saved the entrails and buried them in his garden for fertilizer.
Another neighbor, Mrs. Reneger took the cleaned fish and let them soak in 7UP to remove the muddy taste of a life spent in the murky Perry reservoir. She deep fried them all, which is still my favorite way to eat fish, though my cardiologist would disapprove today.
That night, we sat at a table in the yard, and I had my fill of those crispy perch, corn, watermelon and hand cranked ice cream. As I listened to the adults tell stories of how the area had been settled, the clear sky filled with stars. They were soon accompanied by clouds of dancing fireflies, the only time I’ve ever experienced them. The next day, we drove home, and I never saw Mr. Chelf or Mrs. Reneger again. Along with my own folks, they live exclusively in my fond memories.
A few years ago, my wife and I made a side trip through Perry to see if my ageing recollections were reasonably accurate. Sadly, the neighborhood was partially abandoned and the street I had visited was overgrown with weeds. The overgrown, unmaintained shrubs and trees were a living testimony to the undeniable passage of time.
I’m pretty sure I’m now older than Mr. Chelf was when he set me on the road to a lifetime of fishing. I wonder if the children I’ve introduced to the pastime will ever recall me as fondly.