GORDY TELFER: Confessions of a Rich Kid – Fishing buddies

Gordon Telfer is a fourth-generation (near) native to Big Rapids. He is the husband of a most wonderful wife and father of two fantastic sons. He is a graduate of Big Rapids High School and has worked many jobs in Big Rapids, retiring after 30 years from Ferris State University College of Pharmacy.

As readers of many of my previous articles, you have become aware of my fondness (or perhaps addiction) to fishing.

I am not a believer in astrology. However, being born under the sign of the fish “Pisces” does seem to have significance in my life. I have been involved in the sport of angling and drawn to rivers my entire life. Although my particular passion is fly fishing and that in particular for trout, I have always been ready to pursue any of our finny friends at the drop of a hat. Of course, one meets many other aficionados during a lifetime of fishing and some of these develop into longtime friendships. This article is about one of these friendships. This one began in the mid 1960s and continued into the 21st century.

I met Ed Roberts (another Big Rapids native) while he was courting the pretty young daughter of my next door neighbor. It soon became known that we both were fishing nuts and from time to time we discussed going fishing.

One day, one of my neighbor’s nephews mentioned catching some big brook trout in a creek that ran through their farm property. I asked how big was big, and he indicated about a foot long. Now, for a small creek around here, a foot-long brook trout was a fair-sized fish. He told me they had a “FEW” of them in a cattle trough at the farm. Now knowing that young boys (and fishermen in general) tend to exaggerate at least a little about the size of fish they catch, I dismissed the conversation at that.

A couple of days later, Ed mentioned fishing and I told him about the incident with the young boy. So we asked Ed’s future mother-in-law about the story. She called the boy’s mother and confirmed the story. Immediately, our interest peaked, and we wondered if we could fish that creek sometime. The answer was, “Come out any time.” The next week, Ed and I loaded our gear into the car and drove out to the farm. We were met by the young boy, and we asked if we could see the fish. “Sure,” he replied, “but we ate some of them and there are only two or three in the tank.” Sure enough, there swimming in the cattle tank were three VERY nice brook trout. We both were more that a bit surprised and impressed at the sight. Getting out our rods and worms, we set out across the road and into the woods.

The creek along the road was not much more than a trickle, and as we entered the woods, I still was having some doubts about the outcome of this venture. We heard a clamoring of young voices as we approached a bend in the stream. There were half a dozen kids playing in a small pool, and they took off toward the farm as we appeared, screaming and yelling. I assumed from the milky color of the water that the bottom of the pool must contain a lot of clay. Because of all the activity from the kids playing, surely any fish would not be in any mood to feed. Ed decided he would go upstream a little and check it out.

I waited awhile for the pool to clear so I could see what it offered as far as snags. But it looked like it might take all afternoon and this guy ran out of patience. Baiting a hook, I cast it toward the head of the pool. It quickly disappeared in the murky water. Within seconds my line began to move toward the undercut bank on the far side and I set the hook. My heart was beating like a trip hammer as I flipped a beautiful 13-inch brook trout out onto the bank. Ed had returned with two fish about 11 inches long, just in time to watch me land another 10-inch fish. We both just shook our heads, Ed caught an 8-incher and we called it quits for the day.

Well that was the beginning of a long relationship. Ed was more of a lake fisherman at the time and I was more of a stream fisherman. We ended up teaching each other what (little) we knew of both venues and commenced raining havoc on the finny denizens of the deep for 12 months of the year. It didn’t matter whether it was on the water, in the water or on the ice, or what the species – bass, bluegills, perch, salmon or trout – all were in grave jeopardy.

Ed passed away unexpectedly in 2006. I recall all of the good times we had over the years fishing, deer hunting and working with the Pere Marquette Watershed Council and the Big Rapids Park and Recreation Board. The great times we had teaching adult education classes on fly fishing and fly tying. And I suspect he is casting a fly to some monster largemouth Bass or unsuspecting Brown Trout on a daily basis. However, I rest assured that he is not plagued with the lot of “The Man with the Cat Gut Beard.”

You can look forward to me covering some of these adventures and mis-adventures in future articles.

 

Errors and omissions: I recently stated that the old International-Harvester freezer was purchased from “Frank and Wood.” Well, I was rightly chastised at morning coffee by Mr. Wood, that Mr. Franck thought I should forget about using spell check and concentrate on my own spelling. Sorry about that, Jim. I have commented on others relying too much on spell check. One should practice what they preach.

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