The Great Fish Fry, by Robert Harkness

Kristen was about 12 years old and Tommy was about five and we were staying at an old Benedictine Monastery that had been converted to a resort on the McKenzie River, in Oregon. We had access to the resort through St. Mary’s College High School where my wife, Carla, worked as a teacher for the Christian Brothers. I had brought plenty of fishing gear – rods, reels, line, sinkers, leaders, and bait enough for a small army. From one of the locals I had heard about a good spot on the river that was fairly accessible by car and not too far away. So we packed picnic lunches and loaded them in the car, together with the fishing gear, books, board games, and beach chairs.
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We found the spot at about nine o’clock in the morning. Being summer, the sun was already high and the day warm. We set up our camp on a sandy bank of the river. I set up three poles with Texas slider rigs, using garlic cheese balls for bait, which were legal on this particular stretch of the river at that time. The fish only bit twice for short periods that day. First, from about ten to eleven in the morning and then again from about three thirty to four thirty in the afternoon. If you weren’t there during those periods, you missed out completely. We kept our hooks freshly baited throughout the day and were Johnny on the spot when the fish were biting. I literally could not rebait the hooks fast enough. We were throwing back twice as many fish as we kept, only holding on to the biggest.
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Trout on the McKenzie River 

There were other fishermen along the bank of the river above us and below us. As we were hauling in the fish, they slowly began edging down the bank towards our hot spot. They did not seem to be catching any fish at their spots. We apparently were camped on the real and only hot spot. They did honor the unwritten fishermen’s custom of staying ten yards from our spot and didn’t crowd us.

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That evening we brought fifteen fat trout back to the monastery for a fish fry to share with everyone at the resort. It was a small group so there was plenty to go around. No leftovers, however. The resort cook grilled them on the big BBQ grill and they were delicious! You just can’t beat fresh fish fry!
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This story was written by my friend, Bob Harkness. We welcome your fishing memories and fishing stories!

 

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