Old school applies to pizza, fishing

| July 7, 2020 1:00 AM

She heats her cold pizza in the stove and yesterday’s coffee in a saucepan on the burner.

Nuke it, I tell her. It only takes a minute.

No, she says. It’s not as good.

Old school.

Today on Main Street I looked into a bucket.

What is it? the man asked.

The bucket was in the back of his pickup and in it was a fish.

Looks like a carp, I said.

Not a carp, the man said.

His knuckles were white from years spent turning wrenches and scarring them on hard steel.

Looks like a carp, I replied.

“It’s golden colored,” he said. “And has a red eye.”

He wore logging pants and suspenders and his hickory shirt was half zipped revealing a chest of gray hair.

Maybe it’s a tench, I said, never having seen one up close, outside a magazine.

Not a tench, he said.

He caught tench in ponds that pocked a field on the Shoshone and Benewah County line as a boy. Tons of them, he assured me, and this fish here, was no tench.

The pickup was parked in front of the local bait and tackle, and the owner, curious at our leaning and ogling the bed of a pickup truck, came out for a look.

“Geezus Charlie,” the owner said. “How come you keepin’ those tench?”

Charlie had caught tench, or doctor fish, way back in the 1950s and didn’t think the fish in the bucket in the back of his pickup was one of those Eurasian imports.

“I used to catch sackloads as a kid,” Charlie said.

“Well,” said the bait and tackle shop owner. “This one may have been around when you were a kid.”

The dead fish with the red eye and golden scales lay curved to accommodate the bucket.

“They are all about the same size,” said the bait and tackle shop owner. “I’ve never seen any bigger or smaller than that.”

Waddya catch it with?


Old school is making due with what you’ve got, mostly. Be it bait or fish.

A man who spent part of his life in the Corps said his branch of the service was the home of zero budget training. Simplicity resulted in ingenuity and taught the young people in its ranks to continue despite impediments or lack of gear.

It’s just old school, he explained.

Not far upriver from Calder I cast my dry fly out to a run that made a bottleneck below a bank and I hooked small trout.

A late start that day meant the sun was lower on the horizon than I wanted, and it soon flickered through the trees that fringed a mountain to the west.

I tied on a streamer with a bull head that, tossed right, shouted Ole!

Nudging my way farther into the water I found a warm seam and stood there for luck.

One, two, three casts later a cutthroat bigger than the previous ones was led to my hand, but I wanted one more, so I nudged out deeper to cast closer to the opposite, overhanging bank.

I got way out there with my 9-foot rod. The plastic fly box hanging from a lanyard around my neck almost floated in the pushing current.

I wore a tank top and jeans and the cars that drove by honked.

That’s no fly caster, they said, he’s got no rubber pants.

Sometimes fly fishers defy convention. They leave the L.L. Bean credit card behind and head to the stream in their grandfather’s 1979 Ford Fiesta, Signal Gold with the hatchback door held on by baling twine. Their desire to hook a fish trumps staying dry.

It’s old school and there is no classroom for that.

Ralph Bartholdt writes from North Idaho.