by Scott MacMillan
(Boca Raton, FL)
Many years ago (I think it was in 1962), I lived in Old Greenwich, CT and had a close friend, Owen, who lived in nearby Riverside. We went hiking and collected snakes together.
One day we decided we should take a fishing trip together and we decided to go to Salmon River near Colchester, CT. We knew there were no salmon in Salmon River, but it was supposed to be a good trout stream so we decided to go there.
Neither one of us had a sleeping bag, so we made up bed rolls with a couple of pillows, and took along a frying pan and some miscellaneous plates and utensils we could use to cook and eat all the trout we were going to catch. And, of course, we took along our fishing tackle (I even had a fly rod, which I had used in the North Carolina mountains on several occasions). I had a large safari tent with mosquito netting on what passed for windows and a canvas floor.
The drive to Colchester was about 80 miles, and we arrived at the campground well before dark. We set up the tent and wet our lines to see what might be in store for us. That tuned out to be nothing. We were too young to drink alcohol, so we took out a cooler with some Cokes and – oops! – found we had forgotten to bring along a can opener (there were no easy-open pop tops back then). So we got a screw driver and pounded it into a can with a rock. The canvas floor of the tent would surely have limited any rain water that might have gotten into the tent, but it was equally effective at keeping the Coke we spilled in. So we had a puddle of Coke in one corner of the tent.
It got dark and started to get cold, so we headed into town, grabbed a burger, and decided to see a movie – Days of Wine and Roses, starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. When the movie ended we headed back to camp and went to bed – or tried to. But it had gotten pretty cold by then and our bedrolls weren’t able to keep us warm.
By about 4:00 a.m., we were very cold, tired and hungry. There was no light in the area, so fishing was out of the question. So we packed up the tent and whatever else we had brought along and headed for home. Fortunately, the heater in my car worked fine and we were soon toasty warm. There were no McDonald’s or other fast food joints in the area, so we had to wait until almost 8:00 to have breakfast. The restaurant, wherever it was, was close to home so we had scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits before finishing the return trip. A couple of trout would have made that a great breakfast.
I have done a lot of fishing in my time, and I have gotten skunked more than once. But I have never been as miserable as I was on that trip to Salmon River. We were ill-equipped and I have never gone back to that place. I don’t think Owen has done any fishing of any kind in the nearly 50 years since that miserable trip.
I did learn something from our misadventure, though. Like a Boy Scout, “Be Prepared!” And that means reserving a motel room or a comfortable cabin. It also helps to talk to someone who has been to your destination and knows how to fish the stream. At the very least, take along some worms. You’ll almost always catch something using worms. We were just lucky we didn’t catch a cold.
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