Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Planting Trout

On the way back from Monroe, I decided to take a detour by Blackman's Lake in Snohomish. I found the public access boat launch and was sitting there when a guy (shown in the picture with his little granddaughter) asked me to move my car. He pointed to a truck and said they were about to plant some fish. I moved and got out of my car to watch.

Talking to the guy-- his name is Ralph-- I learn he's a member of the private non-profit "Snohomish Sportsmen's Club". He said the club plants salmon fingerlings and grown trout in the local lakes and streams and rivers to supplement the planting done by the state. The state plants smaller fish. The club also sponsors fishing derbys for kids and sets up "special needs" fishing derbies. It sounds like a good organization. Ralph mentioned that the club has been in existence for more than 50 years. They plant several times a year. Anyway, the truck pulled up and put a soft plastic gravity-fed tube which dumped the fish-- in this case fish about 14-16 inches long-- directly into the lake. The driver said he was dumping 800 pounds of fish, which probably meant about 400 fish.

The fish came out pretty fast and hit the lake. They had a tendency to try to swim back upstream trough the plastic tube and back into the truck. We had to tap a few off the beach into the water. The club dumps the fish into an area of the lake with Lilly pads so the fish have a chance to get oriented and then disperse. The fish that's shown upside down recovered and swam away. If not planted in the lake weeds, the fish would hang around the boat launch and public fishing dock and be easy pickin's for anglers. Ralph said that as soon as the truck is seen dumping the fish into the lake people start calling their buddies on the cell phone to come catch some easy fish. That's why the club was planting on Monday rather than on a weekend. Otherwise "... half the fish would have been caught by the bums ..."

It was pretty interesting.

Lapstrake Canoe

It didn't take too long to realize that some fish might be swimming out a little ways from the shore-- just out of casting range. That, plus some lakes only have a boat launch for public access, so people fishing from the bank at the launch have to reel in their line for those who want to put boats in the water. It gets a little crowded.

One day all was going well fishing from the boat launch until a younger guy drove up, threw his car doors open, and cranked up the volume on "his" music for all of us to hear (suffer). So much for a peaceful afternoon of fishing at the lake.

I went to Craig's List in search of a light solo canoe and found one in Marysville-- a very decent lapstrake canoe. "Lapstrake" means "overlapping wood strips" or something similar. The dictionary refers to "clinker-built" as the same thing. I'll be reading and learning more from here. Anyway, I'm told that this is a Tom Hill design. It's 13.5 feet long and weighs about 35 pounds. There is a fiberglass bottom.

Ten years ago I bought a book titled "Mississippi Solo" written in 1998 by Eddy L. Harris, who had started in the ankle-deep headwaters of the Mississippi River and paddled its entire length to New Orleans. It was interesting. He made the adventure sound real appealing, and it didn't take much more than a small canoe to make his dream happen. About that same time I had purchased a book published in 1985 simply called "Basic Canoeing" or something, which described the "J" stroke and all the other basics. I had a daydream of paddling around the Snohomish River sloughs.

So this wooden canoe looked perfect for my purposes. It's amazing. It's just right. The craftsmanship might be a little rough, but it's solid.

Here's a picture of how the canoe looks when I'm paddling around. Also, here's a picture of a bald eagle sitting on one of the lake's swimming docks, and a picture of one of the docks. While it's not the Mississippi River, it's pretty close.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Foolproof Fish Cooking

Surely there are many more ways to cook trout, but these are the only three that I know and use-- frying, baking and grilling.

Frying... dust the trout with flour and pepper and put in a skillet with a little hot oil. Fry until it flakes and doesn't look raw. Pretty easy. Don't forget to turn the fish over.

Baking...make an aluminum foil boat and set the trout inside with some Italian salad dressing and maybe some chopped up vegetables to look good. Close it up and bake. When in doubt, cook a little longer. Not too hard to do.

Grilling... put the fish on the grill and cook. You might rest it on a piece of aluminum foil. Cook until it is flaky and it doesn't look raw. Not too tough. I don't have any pictures of grilled fish.

The last time we used the outdoor grill was in March 2009. We found some rodent droppings inside the grill on the fake rocks. (It is...er... it was a natural gas grill). The animal must have gotten in through one of the rust holes. I decided it was time to get rid of it, so we did. It hasn't been replaced since fishing season started. Here's a picture of the hamburgers we went ahead and cooked on the grill one last time for old time's sake. (Everybody is still alive). That grill got a lot of use.

Add something else. Unless you are just going to eat fish, you might add something else, like a piece of bread or some healthy vegetables like these. Save room for ice cream.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Role Models

How do we learn our roles in life? Is it possible that an older sister helps mold a younger brother? How about the following--

Growing up and learning to read in the 1950's, I recall that my older sister (by three years) helped me learn to read by using comic books. She would open a comic book and proceed to instruct. Not only did she help me learn to read, but I probabaly learned my proper role in life (as a male). I recall that she picked which comic books to "read" to me.

Could it be that an older sister assumes the superior role as a "Little Lulu" while the younger brother is merely a "Tubby"? That the sister is the smart "Nancy" while the brother is born to be a perfect "Sluggo"?

And how about this-- are these learned "inferior" male roles assumed and held over into adult relationships? Why does Charlie Brown continue to trust-- yet be fooled-- by Lucy? It's probably no accident.

Maybe that's a little cynical. Perhaps younger brothers learned something about proper relationships from such role models as "Popeye" (a befuddled vagabond sailor) or "Lil' Abner" (an uneducated hillbilly).

These comic book characters probably taught a lot.