Opening Day of Trout Season in New York

April 1st marks the beginning of my fishing season, although I fish year round.

This year fishing past Labor Day weekend was scarce, only making it out another dozen times during the fall and winter. But with all that’s happening right now I’m not sure I have been this excited for trout opening day in a long time.

There’s something ancient about fishing. It makes you feel like time stopped hundreds if not thousands of years ago and there you are, nestled into a bank of rocks that have been there forever, seen it all, in water that’s thousands of years old, doing something sacred. It’s a quiet mantra that gives you something to do with your hands, your mind focused on feeling a tug, always in the ready position to set the hook, listening to the babble of the body of water in front of you.

It’s exhilarating and relaxing at the same exact time and there are very few things in life that like that.

I’ve been fishing since I was a little kid. Both my grandfathers were into it, my father, my uncle, my cousins, my friends; we all fished growing up. I remember tying my rod to my bike to ride down to Lisk Bridge with Brian Erdner and the gang and hooking worms, corn, or blue gill eyes to our hooks and hoping to catch a trout. But we were happy snagging creek chubs.

April 1st isn’t just about trout, its about the start of another year of fishing. It’s about remembering all the fish you caught the year before and talking about it. It’s about remembering years past and the fish you caught with family members who might not be around anymore to talk about it.

It’s about memories. You probably won’t remember a lot of specifics about things in life but you will certainly remember fishing. The stories are deeper than just the fish. Time spent together, the gear, the weather, the beer, the meals, all of it ties into one day of fishing. I can think back and remember specific days so well, even if there isn’t a picture to prove the catch.

the biggest fish in the world!

Like that time my Uncle Scott caught this cat off the bank of the Chaumont River. Someone snapped this pic of me going in for the closer look. What a hog that thing was. And to this day I still set up the same way he did and try to get a bigger fish. Even though Uncle Scott passed away. This moment in time is frozen for me and I attempt to recreate it every year.

IMG_20181103_173137366

Same bank, same spot, same cat method. I’ve caught some, just not as big as the cow he brought in. But that to me is what it’s about. So when people tell me they couldn’t get in to fishing, it always surprises me at first, but then I sort of feel bad because maybe they just didn’t have someone to point out that it’s not about the fish but about the memory.

Plus, if you haven’t had the chance to search for, then locate a school of jack perch, then get them into a frenzy and pull about 100 out of the water, then filet them up and beer batter them, frying them in a skillet over the open fire; then dude, you haven’t lived.

For an updated guide on New York State Fresh Water Fishing Regulations click here.

Norman White , The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch Founder- Anthony Norman White

The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch

No matter what the situation is you should arm yourself. It doesn’t have to be a weapon, but if the situation is trying to run through a football field full of rabid Grizzly Bears, then a weapon may be in order. If you plan on playing chess against Bobby Fischer, you might want to brush up on your chess skills and contact a good spirit medium.

But you should arm yourself with knowledge and tools wherever you go. It literally makes us human; it’s what separates us from the rest of the animal pack. It’s why we go to zoos and don’t live in them.

Sometimes you can arm yourself with whatever is lying around. This weekend my father and I dislodged a tree from under a dock with a branch that washed up on shore. Opportunity comes knocking and I always try to answer the door.

Tree in Chaumont River - Anthony Norman White
Tree in Chaumont River – Anthony Norman White

That’s why I armed myself with hot dogs and scotch. I took leftover hot dogs from a cookout at my parents’ house over the weekend and a bottle of scotch my Aunt Paula gave me and I went to battle; potty training a three year old.

Well almost three. But that’s not the point. He’ll barely remember all of this, if at all, while I’ll be scarred for life. This is where the hot dogs and scotch come in. They make things a bit more palatable. Even dookie.

It’s true, mornings are spent rehydrating after all that booze and salt, but they are when you’re on vacation, too. So this is my sadistic vacation, my twisted Fantasy Island, my cruddy, dump filled Space Mountain.

While I was at the cookout I snapped a bunch of pictures of the family and of my parent’s property. But for some reason I took a picture of a picture. It’s the one at the top of the page of the old guy. That’s my Great Grandfather, Norman. His first name is my middle name and I always felt like that was a really important piece of me.

His son was my grandfather, Leroy. My wife and I chose Leroy as our son’s middle name, hoping to start a family tradition.

I was going through the pictures of the weekend when I came across the one of Norman.  I stared at him for a long time, the deep wrinkles and sun-leathered skin had seen it all; drought, famine, the hottest summer, the coldest winters. I suddenly realized something.

He had to potty train my grandfather Leroy.  What a funny thing to think about. I can only think of those two as the older men that I knew, so the vision in my head looks more like a geriatric funny farm rather than the dairy farm they both grew up on.

But just as I share a name with Norman, I share a story, too; Potty Training. It’s literally the fraternal order, I am doing as my dad did, as his dad did, as his dad did, and so on. I wonder if they spent the week armed with hot dogs and scotch and that’s where I got this idea?

The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch - Anthony Norman White
The Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch – Anthony Norman White

It doesn’t matter. That’s not the point.

The point is that we feel connected to our past and that it comes in all sorts of ways. I suddenly felt connected by more than just a name to my great grandpa by simply beginning the potty training process on my son. I felt as though I finally belonged in the White Fraternal Order of Things. I’m commencing my part in history.

But I like flashy names. And I like Hot Dogs. And I like scotch. So, there’s that.

I would like to extend the invitation to all new dads and moms who are about to begin the potty training process. Come be a part of the Fraternal Order of Hot Dogs and Scotch. It may not make potty training any easier, but it might make it tolerable because hot dogs and scotch.

(This piece is dedicated to Kiki. Thumbs up, dude.)