“Fish Tales 2”

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!

29 thoughts on ““Fish Tales 2”

  1. I spent a magical summer in the Catskills next to a famous trout river. We had fresh trout every morning, cooked on an old wood stove. I learned to debone a trout at age 7, and to savor the bet part of the fish, lore had it, the “cheek meat.” Your post brought back happy memories!

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  2. I don’t think I have the patience for fishing. We used to take the kids camping every year though – although this was at campsites rather than wilderness camping. Our favourite site was behind a beach in Snowdonia, North Wales. With four kids and three dogs it took a while to get breakfasted, and off the campsite and by the time everyone was hungry for lunch, cafe’s had finished lunch for the day (all day menus didn’t exist back then). Lunch was generally from the ‘afternoon tea’ menu and we’d go back to the campsite to make dinner.
    It was some years before we could afford to rent a caravan on a campsite, and from there we progressed to Landmark Trust holiday lets – which is another story. It was quite a leap, financially, but always worth the investment. (Landmark Trust places are historic buildings that aren’t good enough for The National Trust, and although the furnishings aren’t palatial, they aren’t cheap to rent. Fascinating though.)

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  3. The bones in certain fish always made me think that what you eventually got to eat wasn’t worth the time and trouble it took. Luckily, we now have ‘fillets’ of almost anything on sale in supermarkets. As you can tell, I have never fished. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.


  4. I actually love to fish and I am definitely not an outdoors person. But I dont clean and debone the fish. That is why I always fish with someone who understands that their contribution is the cleaning. I will catch and cook!


  5. Great memories, Elizabeth. While my parents didn’t go camping, I spent every summer at camp, living in a tent and camping in the woods. I loved it. Roasting marshmallows was my favorite, not fish. 🙂


  6. I enjoyed this post and thought of my own childhood. My dad loved to fish and we all loved to camp, basic camping of course. Dad took turns taking us kids fishing, and he had a creel like the one hanging above. If we caught it, we had to clean it, and then mom cooked it. All good memories. I have Dad’s creel now, it is on my sun porch, a little place for friends to drop things off when I’m not home, and a depository for sunglasses that seem to be left here!


  7. I’ve always been envious of those “camping” or taking a caravan to a camping ground AND then having the summer to laze about, preferably by water/beach/lake, deck chairs and sunscreen … something that never featured in my childhood – for lots of reasons!
    Still want to do it…but haven’t a car to haul everything…


  8. What a lovely family time Elizabeth! I didn’t go camping (tenting) until after I’d left home. I’m not a fan though I much prefer caravaning (glamping) I really need a soft bed & solid walls lol 😀


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