May is here and with warm weather we know that spring has arrived. The snow of April 18th is long forgotten, yea right. If I remember correctly, it was in the early 90’s that on April 5 or 6th we had a snow that was approximately 6” deep. But for the month of May, I don’t think the valley ever had a measurable snow. You weather watchers can let me know.
Also, I want to thank Richard Hottinger for the memory of his sleigh ride on that moon lit night, and glad you weren’t seriously hurt.
There are several memories of May that I enjoy. First, I can remember, I believe it was the first grade, it was in May, and we were coloring, and looked out and saw the custodian mowing the grass. When he came by the window that luscious fragrance of freshly mowed grass came thru the open window into the classroom, and the thought of school’s out for the summer flooded my mind. Like the old saying about when the cat accidently had its tail cut off with the mowing scythes, it won’t be long now until summer vacation and spending time at the store.
Another joy is when I see the tulips, those dark rich colorful flowers I think are so beautiful. When my daddy was in the service he talked about Holland and the windmills and tulip fields. He made me think I would like to go there and see that sight.
But now a remembrance of fishing…. Starting January 1st the Virginia Game Commission would close the rivers to fishing. They would stock trout starting in March and opening day was the first Saturday in April starting at High Noon 12:00 PM on the nose, or near about, we will say 12:00ish. You could imagine how that went. The exact time the season came in at some spots, depended on if the game warden was close, and how much alcohol had been consumed by the fisherman.
Then the last week of April, they closed the season again, and restocked the streams. Then on the first Saturday in May one half hour before sunrise the season would open again. Both these opening days were big events in Fulks Run. If you‘ve never seen this, it would be hard to describe the elbow-to-elbow people that lined the streams in our area. And in those days stocked trout waters started at Bennies Beach and continued west on 259 to the Bergton cut off. Some of the favorite spots were, of course, Bennies for more reasons than one, Trumbo Forge, Bear Hole, Little Dry River Bridge, Red Hill Bridge, Yankee Town, Old Riverside Church Bridge, Wittig Hole, and several more spots along 259, wherever there was a place to pull off the road, and a good hole of water.
Now to the heart of the story, everyone had their favorite spot, but the most favorite spot that I have yet to mention was “Garnett’s Bridge”, the one right below the Turner Store. This was a favorite for many reasons. This spot was easily assessable, had long river frontage on both sides of the stream, was stocked heavy, and the old Ruritan Park served as a campground for those with campers and tents that wanted to spend the night, especially for people that didn’t live in the area. Matter of fact, after dark the park closely resembled a little city with the lights and campfires that could be seen when you drove by. But one year, it was not business as usual on the first Saturday in May at the Fulks Run Ruritan Park.
Now the way I heard it, there was a group of local young men that were frustrated that a mob would appear, catch all the trout then be gone in one or two days. So, a plan was conceived. These men found a washing tub and filled it with oatmeal, canned corn, in addition to, whole corn, and anything else you could imagine that a trout would eat. They gathered up so much “fish food” they had two washing tubs full. Then part two of the plan. Sometime between the hours of 9:00 PM and midnight the first sortie of the mission was made. When driving across the bridge they slowed down and one jumped out and threw the entire contents of the tub over the side of the bridge. Shortly after that the second strike occurred, with efforts to be certain the two tubs were thrown at different places off the bridge.
Now the next morning, as daylight begin to break, the report came in, that as the rising sun began to illuminate the river, it looked like there was a huge vein of gold on the river bottom. The lighter it became the more sounds of angry men could be heard, some even used profanity! And what even fueled their anger more was the trout swimming around looked as if they had swallowed a golf ball. The last thing these fish wanted was something to eat. Some stayed and tried fishing. Others left to go to another spot. I’ll have to say this was a dirty trick. I’ll also have to say, that spot had the best fishing for many days after. Also, I imagine there is a book somewhere in the law manuals of the Commonwealth of Virginia that states that what was done that night was against the law. Who would have thought? I do want to add this, above I mentioned many fishing holes that are no longer stocked. This is for numerous reasons, but they all fall under one category. And that is because the anglers were inconsiderate and didn’t respect the property. They would leave trash on the river banks. They would stand on those little wooden or smaller bridges and fish and would not move when cars approached the bridge. One party needed to call the vet because fishing line entangled his horses legs and started to cut the horse. This was even after a trash receptacle was placed on the property and emptied by the Fulks Run Ruritans. So, if you are an angler, please don’t take your favorite fishing hole for granted, and be sure and thank the owner for this privilege.
Until next time.
Believe it or not,