Trout Head…….. that’s where I learned to fish. Now I probably learned how to avoid Lilly pads better than I learned how to fish, but I still spent many morning’s, afternoons and evenings on Trout Head. And I have spent my youth’s fortune (or lack thereof) on spinners, swivels, hooks, and flies bought from Short Stop “up on the hill” that are on the bottom of Lilly Pond. That was my childhood.
Trout head is a slanted rock formation on the middle-edge of Lilly Pond, about a 10 minute walk from Mom’s house in Carbonear. Just a walk up Hoyles Road, past Sopars farm to Lilly Pond Road. I’ll always remember Lilly Pond Road when I feel the nick in my leg, I guess we were 15 when my cousin Scott and myself were on his Honda dirt bike heading down to trout Head. He was driving and I was on back, one hand holding onto the back of the seat and the other holding onto both our fishing rods. I remember him turning around and telling me the brakes were gone, now if you knew Scott, you would think he was kidding, and this day I did too. I remember us fishtailing for a little bit then I remember skidding for about 15 feet on my forearm and on my leg with a broken rod in my hand. Now Scott was less fortunate, somehow the bike landed on top of him and however we skidded down the gravel road I remember one side of his helmet was ripped apart. He was about 15 feet in front of me when I got up, walking towards me, having trouble breathing (you would too if you slid 30 feet with a bike on top of you), gashes all over his arms and I think some on his face. Another cousin Gordon drove Scott’s bike back to his house, a little worst for the wear, headlight smashed, signal light hanging off. I remember Sten Snow walking past us “Byes, you should probably go to the hospital”, I guess we should have but, you know….. your indestructible when your young. Somehow as we walked back home we didn’t realize that Scott’s fishing rod was chasing us until we got to the end of the road, when Scott realized the Spinner hanging from his leg and flies stuck in his abdomen. His rod fared much better than mine.
At the bottom of Lilly Pond road is a small stream that crosses the road separating Lilly Pond from Black Duck Pond. This is the first place you will get wet. There is a rock path along the lower edge, but the last jump from the rocks to land always seems so far as a kid, and I would always get one foot wet here. There is a path that leads from the road to Trout Head along the lower edge of the cliff. Halfway along this path is a couple submerged rocks that form a path out to a larger rock that is in the middle of the lower part of Lilly Pond. I remember Dad telling me that is one of the rocks he used to fish as a boy, I’m sure he told me the name of the rock, but time is definitely not my friend as I get older. This is the second place you get wet. A short trek from this is Trout head, but to actually get there you either have to scale a 3 foot long rock face keeping your feet parallel to the rock and pull yourself across, OR walk through 3 feet of 4 inch deep water. This is the third place you get wet. A small path to climb up and here you are at Trout Head.
The first memory I have of ever fishing is here on Trout Head; fishing with Dad, Scott and Uncle Bill, I don’t remember catching anything, I do remember is was a sunny summer day, I had a worm and a big red and white bobber and I remember getting wet, falling in actually, I was quite prone to that. I guess our milestones as kids were marked by how far we were allowed to go from home without our parents. I remember mine being allowed to go with Tracy, Jimmy and Scott to the little store at the bottom of our hill accross from Nanny Moo’s, Then being able to go even farther to Forwards store on the back road, and then I remember being able to go to Lilly Pond by ourselves. Our first rods were long bamboo rods with black line on them, a bobber, hook and worm had to be delicately cast and the waiting began. I remember my first real fishing kit consisted of a dark blue Shakespeare rod, a close-faced Shakespeare reel, 10lb line, lots of bobbers and Dad’s old black tackle box. Every time we came to trout head we took a lunch, mine usually consisted of a ham sandwich, tin of Vienna sausage, raspberry flakie, and a can of coke (back in the day when you didn’t have pull tabs, but had a small and large hole to push open to get the carbonated goodness).
As each summer vacation passed our skills got better and we explored more and more of Lilly Pond. First we evolved to spinners, mind you we still used bobbers to keep from snagging the bottom. Then when we were not kids but…. you know…. big people now… we started using spinners without bobbers, and that is when I discovered all the old rusty oil tanks 20 feet off of Trout Head. These were the bane of my childhood fishing, every $0.60 spinner that I lost caught in these tanks were always the mark of the end of the fishing day and another trip to Short Stop was required. I remember asking dad where all these oil tanks came from, apparently off trout head are a lot of oil tanks cut in half, car hoods, and anything else that could act as a slide off trout head into Lilly Pond, used all winter until early spring thaw broke the ice causing everyone’s entertainment to go sinking to the bottom of Lilly Pond. Of course as Dad’s telling me this, Mom’s listening and telling me “don’t listen to your father, and don’t ever do it”. We only ever found one car hood to use as a slide, we used it on Sopers field and it was fun, until we also found barbed wire, think I’ll stuck to Krazy Karpets after that. The good part of the oil tanks after all these years though is that it taught me to learn from my mistakes and patience. Every spinner lost in that minefield of tanks was mentally mapped, because as anyone who ever fished Trout Head will tell you, the outskirts of those tanks is where the fish hid.
With the bobberless spinner mastered, we headed out into the world to walk around Lilly Pond. Submerged oil tanks were no longer our only enemy, branches of trees would jump out in front of you and steal your spinner, if you were lucky your 10lb line broke, if you were not so lucky you broke the tip of your rod off and had to spend the next half hour widdling down the top of your fiberglass rod until you got to the next highest eye. I remember in my younger days we would not fish all the way around Lilly Pond but so far up one side then back to Trout Head and so Far up the other side, then back to our fishing sanctuary. As the years passed and I moved on to bigger ponds like Freshwater Pond, the swansea and fishing along the line road, I still always came back to Trout Head. Sometimes with a rod for a “few flicks” sometimes just to sit and “be”. As we got much older we started to fish the upper part of the Lilly Pond, shallower water with bigger fish and open cover. Spinners were no good here, the long submerged grasses made it impossible to use them. That’s when I took Dad’s 15 year old fly rod from the basement and began my obsession.