Clearly by the time I was three as I was just as curious and skeptical as I had been when confronted with a bucket of smelt. Here I examine a rainbow trout caught by my father when fishing. Above my head you can see the wicker basket that my father used to keep the fish.
My parents loved tent camping when we were growing up. I must say, for those used to RV travel, that tent camping was a redundant phrase when I was a child. It was just called “camping.” We had a large tent, those war surplus mummy bags, a Coleman white gas fueled camp stove, a Coleman white gas fueled lantern and a Coleman ice chest. I don’t know if Coleman had any competitors at the time, but it was all we ever bought. In fact they were even referred to as “Coleman stoves,” rather like the ubiquitous “Kleenex” and “Bandaids.”
Oregon was full of campsites, basically flat places on the ground in the midst of evergreen trees. Sometimes they had running water and outhouses. Often they didn’t. In the latter case we dug latrines and hauled water from creeks. We didn’t know about the risks of that water, and we fortunately were spared any parasites.
But we were always next to a lake, and my father always fished. He was a fly fisherman who studied the bugs and spent much time casting and recasting his line. I never tried it. It was an activity that belonged to my dad alone. I did eat the trout every summer. I remember the camp fires, the metal grate and the cast iron skillet that cooked them. And I remember the bones. As a child I thought the effort of deboning a trout outweighed any value as food.
A few years ago, Charlie and I watched a waiter at an upscale Italian restaurant deftly debone a trout table side. In one quick movement the trout was ready to eat. He was what was missing when we went camping!