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East Licking Creek Trout

Fishermen walk many miles. The float, they boat, they wade, and in some cases they even swim.

If only we could stop by our neighbor’s trash can as they dispose of a old pair of leaky waders and somehow hear a story of where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. If boats, fishing rods or vests, could talk, what would they tell us about great days on the water and the proud angler that they clothed or towed?

They would probably tell a facetious story about a man or woman, who at times, had a passion sometimes outweighed their common sense.

Any avid angler has those moments when they’re so passionately pursuing the fish they’re after that they’re willing to do whatever it takes. I’ve fought through immensely thick brush and poison, scooted over logs, climbed brush piles and braved the brutally cold weather and patches of ice to catch a simple fish.

We’ve all been there, and in the end, when we stand there having netted our latest catch, it most definitely seems worth it.

When I was in high school and even for a few years after that, My cousin Joe Slautterback, of Honey Grove, and I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time fishing for trout all over Juniata County. Lost Creek and Horning Run were always some of our favorites, but we never spent as much time, nor adored a creek more than the upper part of Licking Creek.

With many areas stocked for trout from top to bottom, this stream attracts anglers from all over, but perhaps our favorite spot to fish was a two-mile stretch of the creek running through the Tuscarora State Forest that was marked as a delayed harvest zone. There’s a short period of time in which you can keep a few trout from this stretch of stream, however a majority of the year it’s strictly an area for fish to be caught and released on artificial lures only.

We spent so many hours on this part of that beloved creek that even reminiscing about it brings me a sense of nostalgia. We’ve fallen in, sometimes multiple times on one trip, but gathered ourselves quickly to continue the purpose of our trip, catching trout.

Parking a car on each end, we usually tried to fish the entire two mile stretch in one afternoon. Slipping from place to place tossing “rooster tail” spinner baits often led to a fish on the other end of our line. On a good day, we caught well over a hundred trout, sometimes closer to 200 between the two of us, and that’s not a joke! Even on a bad day, we still managed to catch quite a few.

Two young men trekking the same stretch of water, again and again but always discovering something new. I’m certain many men, women and children have fished this same stretch of stream for many years just as we did, and that’s a fact that ties many years of tradition to the brotherhood and sisterhood of angling.

We never left that stream with any fish, but as I sit here today writing this story, I’ve come to realize that the memories that I took away from that time spent in that place are worth more than any one trophy I could have taken home. I hope this story encourages you and your loved ones to hit the water sometime his spring or summer and enjoy a day of fishing. I’d even be glad to hear your stories from the same stretch of stream.

Fish, catch a lot, and live well, friends.

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John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.

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