An amazing thing happened during the Spring of 1974. Well, a few things happened; Nixon was impeached, inflation was in double digits, there was an energy crisis, Patty Hearst was kidnapped and Fisherman Eyewear introduced Polarization to the fishing world. But none of those events could compare to the most amazing thing that happened that year. I was six years old in 1974 and all those events were not at all important to me. I was focused on my dog Rover, my cat Willy Billy, watching The Six Million Dollar Man, going to Farrell's for ice cream and camping adventures with my parents and their friends. The amazing thing that happened in 1974 happened on one of those camping trips.
My memory is somewhat vague, but I do remember driving up to Edison Lake in the back of my dad's friend Mark's Volkswagen Van and getting car sick somewhere near Shaver Lake. Traveling those winding mountain roads coupled with the smell of exhaust in the back of the VW van was not an uncommon event for me back then. The glorious thing about those torture sessions in the back of the van was that they always resulted in a great destination. This time was no exception. Perched high in The Sierra Nevada is Edison Lake. Surrounded by granite domes and pine forests, Edison Lake was a favorite High Sierra destination for my dad and his buddies.
On this particular trip, we had rented a small boat from the dock at the Vermilion Valley Resort and loaded it with our camping and fishing gear. The trip across the lake was exciting. The lake seemed huge, the water was cold and deep and the surrounding peaks were tall and snowy. It was beautiful. I remember puttering across the lake in the small silver boat as my mom and dad and their friends fished and laughed. We had a great time camping on the far side of Edison Lake; fishing from the granite slabs on the shore of the lake, swimming in the icy cold water, camping near the creek that fed into the lake. My mom caught her first fish on the trip. I can still hear her shrieks of excitement as she dangled a 12" rainbow trout from the end of her line.
The greatest thing that happened in 1974 happened on the boat ride back. I remember the feel of the hot mid-day sun as we trolled across the amazingly deep blue lake. i was feeling kind of bummed because the only thing left in the cooler was yucky beer. I really wanted a coke. Then I heard my dad's friend, Paul, yell out a few colorful words. I had to ask what was going on, I was worried we had sprung a leak or something. And why was Mark's fishing pole bent so far? Fish on the line! And by all the activity, frantic voices and adult squeals, I could tell it must be a big fish! The boat's motor stopped. And, as we floated in the middle of Edison Lake on that amazing Spring day in 1974, only one thing mattered in the world, that monster fish on the other end of the line needed to be caught.
I still remember the size of dad's eyes and the gigantic grin on Mark's face when the shimmering monster was reeled up to the side of the boat. It was an awesome thing to see the huge german brown trout netted and brought on board. It was really, really big. Almost 40 years later and I am still excited thinking about it.
The rest you can imagine, a lot of high fives and back slapping. I remember my parents laughing as a picture was taken of me next to the fish. It was as big as me. I have the picture to prove it. That huge fish was stuffed and mounted and spent several years on the wall of our wood paneled den. I don't know if I will ever experience another fish like that, but I can guarantee that I am going to keep trying.