By many broad comparisons, Goose Creek is not much of a stream, but it does carry a significant amount of water through the valley from the hills of Panama, Harmony and North Harmony. When we get lots of rain, Goose Creek fills to its banks and, at times, overflows causing problems that I don’t even want to discuss. Normally, however, it remains within its confines and empties into Chautauqua Lake. The flow carries with it a certain amount of silt creating a mini “Delta” at its mouth.
About forty years ago, maybe more, who knows? I decided to go fishing for Muskellunge, or, “Muskie” for short, and set about to prepare for such an excursion. This is not an easy thing to do! The Muskie is a big fish! No, I mean a BIG fish!
Back in 1948 or ’49, who knows? I went fishing with my cousin Don and older brother Jim. We had a flat-bottomed row boat complete with oars, special bamboo poles and drag reels with stainless-steel leaders and 12 pound test line. Well,- they did – I had a crooked stick with a piece of baling twine, or something like that.
Then we had a net. The net you need for Muskie is a BIG net. The hoop is about six feet across! Well, maybe two feet! Maybe more, maybe less, who knows?
Then you need a hunting knife to kill the fish and a hatchet, in the event you missed with the knife you still had back-up weaponry!
Entering the lake at Colburn’s at about 9:00 PM we rowed out past the weed line, set their bobbers and dropped our lines. They with Red-fin chubs and me? I think they let me use an old chewed-up Pikie-minnow that I could drag along-side the boat.
Don began to row ever so slowly.
Hours went by. I kept feeling tugs on my stick. I pulled it in.
Clean it off, back in the water. Tug again!
Maybe this time! – Weeds!
By this time the fun of fishing had dissipated and we were having more fun laughing at the weeds. Tug again!
I pulled it in. A 30-inch Muskie!
What a celebration we had!!
Before 2:00 AM Don had caught a 36 incher and Jim had a 46 incher! We even took pictures the next day!
So, when I decided to go fishing this night 40 years ago, maybe more, who knows? I got all the gear ready, the boat, the poles, the chubs for Live-bait, the net, the knife, the hatchet and launched at Tri-James boat launch at about 9:00 PM.
What a perfect night! I motored slowly up to the delta at the mouth of Goose Creek, killed the motor and drifted in to where there was a depth of about four feet. Just where, I figured, the “Big Ones” would be feeding.
I baited, set the bobbers at the appropriate depth and dropped the lines in the water. I slowly began to let line out on the two out-rigged poles.
Something was wrong! The line wasn’t going out off the left pole!
As silently as one can in an aluminum boat, I clambered to where I could get a handle on the tip of the bamboo pole.
The line, I discovered, had looped around the tip eye on the pole preventing it from feeding out. I took the line between my thumb and index finger, slid up to the eye, wrapped it around my finger and carefully began to unwind it from the tip.
The first digit of my finger nearly disappeared! The pole clattered to the bottom of the boat! I fell, following the pole!
A huge muskie had hit the chub! With no give in the line, the bait tore loose and was gone in the fish’s mouth! That muskie must have been at least 80 inches long! Maybe more! Who knows?
The chub was gone and my finger hurt!
I slowly motored home, and went to bed.
Walking past Goose Creek today, I looked at my finger. It’s still there.