Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Providence. (Nightcrawlers, 6 Mile Waterworks, etc...)

Anyone else grow up in Albany? Then McKownville? Close to 6 Mile Waterworks (Rensselaer lake)?

What did your parents tell you about the place? In my parent's words -- "unsavories" like "biker gangs" hung out there for sure... I was never allowed to go. I was always curious about the place, because as a kid I vaguely knew that fishing went down back there. I was mad for fishing as a young boy and this close at hand fishing opportunity which was denied to me always irked me a bit.

In adulthood I've visited several times over the years. It is a modest and weedy lil' lake-pond. They stock it in April with farmed brown trout. People kill it from the shore with worms and powerbait for a few weeks then mostly leave the place alone. You get your leisurely shore anglers and some kayakers for the rest of the season.

But you know what? If you drop a hook with a worm near the shore you are going to get nearly constant nibbles from lil' panfish galore. My son just turned six. I'm trying to get him interested in the angling arts and this is perfect for his attention span. What beats, at the age of six (he turned six the day prior, fishing was a birthday wish of his), landing sunnies a couple seconds after you drop your hook? Nothing, that's what.

So this brings me to today's story of the glory, mystery, and majesty that is held within our local fields and fens.

Before going out to 6 Mile, I let my son dig some worms. I tossed him a Ball jar filled with dirt and let him have at it in the garden. He did fair to middlin' and got 6 or 7 juicy worms.

The fish made great sport of nibbling those yard-dug worms off of my son's hooks for about an hour. Out of a father's desperation I grabbed my own rod and baited a hook with our last worm and managed to hook a little pumpkinseed or somesuch. My son was elated and I brimmed with pride that our fishing trip had been successful. Heck, we caught a fish.

As the day was still young, we walked back to the car and I found a flat bar in the trunk. I gave it to Junior to see if he could dig some more worms somewheres. He happily ran back up the trail and began hacking away at any bare patch of soil.

We ambled around the water for a while, I let the boy foray into the bush a bit. He hacked at the soil for a while with glee but it was a bit dry and the worms were elusive. After about a half hour I decided to call it. Getting a "not yet" I issued fourth the refrain of the father of the 6 year old-- "five minutes, that's it."

We were down by the pond-y bit by the train tracks. An Amtrak passenger train had just howled by. My son bit off the trail into the bush and came back with this.

A pack of night crawlers. As cool as if it just came out of one of those little fridges at a Stewarts. He found it at the base of a tree down in a pretty mushy and swampy bit. I pulled off the top and there they were. Fat juicy Canadian Crawlers, alive as the day is long.

We fished for another couple hours with those worms. We hauled in a couple more little ones. My son was elated.

There are things at work around our lakes and streams and in our forests. I am profoundly irreligious, but I can feel it. There are tree spirits or lake sprites or god-knows-what-all out there. I think they are delighted by the joy of children. Only explanation I have for those worms...


  1. What a blast from the past!

    I found your blog while looking for Helmbold's hot dog sauce recipe. It is on the stove while I type!

    Earlier on, I lived in Westmere. A fair amount of my misspent youth included strapping rods to our bikes and riding to 6 Mile Waterworks to fish. This would have been around 1978-1981. Never saw any bikers there, but we were pretty focused on fishing. I can't remember if we ever caught anything...

    Anyway, thanks for the memories. I'm going to spend a bit of time on your blog.



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