Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Voices from the Past: Pinkney Gage (1953)

The following article appeared in the 17 August 1953 edition of The Humboldt Standard. It was written by syndicated columnist Pinkney Gage, who rarely delved into fishing matters, but when he did he produced little gems like this piece. I think it is one of the most poignant and moving pieces about a final fishing trip I've read.

"Buried Treasure"


Have you ever heard of a "retired" fishing rod suddenly getting the red carpet treatment because it was found valuable? Here's how my friend tells about his fishing rod.

"It was towards the close of the season and this old fishing partner of mine who had been crippled up something fierce with arthritis asked me: 'Say, Walt, how's for the two of us making a last fishing trip before the season closes?' Frankly, I knew that it would be a pretty punk trip -- what with a man putting in his last trip -- but I said 'Last trip, you're plumb crazy. But anyway let's go.'

"Then the 2 of us sat down and we went over some of the finest water we had ever fished. Both of us knew that this was his last trip -- and with that In mind, we wanted not only to warm up memories, but also to carry away a last beautiful experience. And more, I was determined that he should latch on to a good fish. And so we picked Hidden Lake. You can drive fairly close to it, which had to be considered.

"We got there In the late afternoon and as I pumped up the war surplus rubber raft he set up his rod. You could see he loved It. We pushed off. A breeze riffled the water and made the beautiful reflection of snow-capped Mt. Hood shake into the water. A trout dimpled a protected spot under some over-hanglng branches. Then another. He cast to a feeding trout within easy range. As he cast, I noticed that he, poor guy, could not prevent wincing. His arm must have killed him. But finally a trout swirled under his fly, he struck, and was fast to a good fish.

"The should he let go must still be ringing in that tall timber. He fought the fish well, brought it in, released it. And then, looking up at me -- with a grin on the lower part of his face and his eyes wet -- he said: 'Walt, this Is exactly the way I wanted my trout fishing to end. I'm lucky. Mind rowing me back to the shore, now.'

"When we got back and packed, It was evening. The calls of the birds had vanished. All was quiet. Without a word we walked to the water's edge. In the darkness there was only the faint sound of water slapping against the shore. Then the splash of a feeding fish, perhaps. Turning his back to it, he said slowly: 'Walt, as a favor, will you accept my tackle?' I wanted to remonstrate but couldn't. All I could get out of my tight throat was: 'Thanks, I'll put them to good use….'

"But as you know, Gage, as one gets older, and the work piles up a little higher, and living costs keep climbing, you don't always get to go fishing like you'd like to.

"But finally, I got a wonderful Invitation to go fishing which I just naturally couldn't turn down.

"First I had to fix up that rod he gave me. I took it to a repair man. He looked at the German silver ferrules and the rod windings and set it up and worked it for action. 'Man, do you know you have one of the few Hiram Hawes rods left in this country?'

"'No, what does that mean?"

"'Well, whenever you get ready to sell it, I know just the man who will give you a hundred bucks for it.'"

-- Dr. Todd

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