Friday, September 10, 2010

Fishing Holes of My Youth/Venice, Florida and Celina, Ohio

Walking around town, down my usual path towards Grand Lake this morning, I got to thinking about fishing the waters of this giant inland body of water during my youth.  Grand Lake St. Marys, is not really a lake at all, just a giant the old days it was simply called the Celina Reservoir, because that is what it really is.  Those were the days before some hot shop politician out of St. Marys got the bright idea to rename it Lake St. Marys.  Why St. Marys?  No real reason, The Mistake by the Lake as we Celina folks like to call St. Marys doesn't even sit on the lake....Celina does(only kidding SM folks).  Now with the recent pollution problems, we are glad the lake is named after our 'sister' city on the east side.

Anyhow, I got to remembering the places I fished on Grand Lake after the family moved to the Celina area in the early 1960s, after spending a decade or so in south Florida, in Venice, which sits on a much larger body of water, the Gulf of Mexico!

In all honesty, I was a much better fisherman when I was 11 years old, than I am 50 years later.  In Venice, I spent many an evening with dad, fishing at the Venice Jetties...plural they are.  The South Jetties is adjacent to Venice, while the North Jetties is accessible if you drive to Nokomis ...although you can throw a stone(if you have a great arm) across from one to the other, if you go by car, they are a couple of miles apart.

Fishing Venice, Florida 1954-1962____

I learned from dad to fish while growing up in stated, my usual haunt was the South Jetties, but I also fished the North as well, and on occasion I would cast my bait and hook off the Manasota Bridge near Englewood, a few miles to the south.  That is where the top photo with me and my Snook was first good sized fish...I think I was 7 or 8, so it must have been around 1957.  Salt Water fishing the Gulf and it's tributaries was a good chunk of my life growing up in South Florida.  Probably only topped by endless hours of playing Little League and sandlot baseball.  While dad was catching Shark, Snook, Snapper and Jewfish,  and other large fish from the Jetties and elsewhere, I spent my time casting for those Snook, and  Red Snappers, along other smaller varieties. It was a good life, although at the time, I didn't realize just how good we had it...those days are now golden in my memory banks.

Fishing Grand Lake 1962-1968____

When we picked up stakes and returned to Western Ohio in the fall of 1962, by luck we moved to Celina(some 30 miles south of our original roots in Scott, Ohio), which was nestled on the (at that time), the largest man made lake in the world....Grand Lake, a behemoth body of water, 13,000 acres which had been hand dug out of swamp land in the 1830s and 40s.

    Freshwater fishing was different than fishing the Gulf of Mexico, the fish were smaller, but at the time, they were much easier to catch, and even though the fish size was small, the "take" was usually much larger.  In those days the lake and it's bays, and connecting creeks and channels were loaded with a variety of Catfish, and Crappie, Bluegill, and Perch.  I sent my junior high and high school days and evenings from spring through early fall fishing for all....sadly Grand Lake these days, has little to offer as far as fishing, and if the pollution cannot be controlled, not much else as far as recreational value.

But those days of my youth were filled with fishing and "fish stories", that cannot be taken away as long as I am here to tell them.  My next fishing adventure will probably come in 7 weeks or so, when Nick and I head north to the Au Sable River and Lake Huron for our annual, Cigar, Beer, Drambuie, and Salmon Fishing a kid in Florida and Ohio, all I needed was a pole and a bucket of minnows and a can of worms.

A description of some of those "Fishing Holes" in the photographs are listed below:

Top Left  Me and my Snook that I caught off the Manasota Bridge near Englewood around 1957.  Dad, Stan Houseworth, with his 95 pound Jewfish caught off the North Jetties near Nokomis in the fall of 1956...Jewfish are no longer called by that name due to Politically Correct reasons...screw that, it was what is was, a Jewfish, PC be dammed.  The photo below that is one of the South Jetties I took on my last RV run to Venice in 2005, the town and area have changed, The Jetties?  Not so much!  The Grand Lake photos were taken this morning...left top, the 4H Camp at Harbor Point...where I caught my biggest Black Crappie ever, well over 1 pound, I pulled it in back in the fall of 1962, from right under that tree in the foreground.  The 4H camp was used to house German Prisoners of War back in the 1940s.  Below that is the Hot Water hole along Lake Shore Drive...where, due to the discharge of warm water from the City Power Plant, you could fish all winter.  On the right at the top is Whiskey Run on the Chickasaw Creek, the Jones boys and I could walk from our houses, west of Montezuma, and fish or ice skate here, depending on the season...we did lots of both.  And finally ColdwaterODNR....not!  These days Grand Lake, and the Gulf, to a lesser extent, are 'fished out', the memories and images of those times however, are still with me.

Enjoy your weekend...back later>>>>


Nancy said...

Lordy....lordy. That fish your Dad caught looks like a whale. I am still looking at the pic to determine where its tail is.Tell me one thing...did you guys eat it? If so did your Mama clean and cook it?

Sarge Charlie said...

test my memory, i think i see the left front finder of a 1950 nash.

PRH....... said...

50 or 52 Sarge...but I think you might be right...will have to ask mom. :) I know we towed it behind dad's 49 Buick when we moved to Florida in 1953...

Gene Bach said...

Great stories and pictures. My grandma and grandpa were caretakers on a duck club for 20+ years. I would spend the whole summer there catching bass all day and catfish all night. I only slept when I had to.

Near their house two canals came together with a short spit of land between them that tapered to a point...maybe 20 yards in total length. I would stand next to a natural gas pumping station, on a gravel road, and hit rocks...pretending I was playing baseball games. Stretching across the far canal was a bridge that sat quite a ways over the water. To me, that tall bridge was the Green Monster. A rock hit into the point of land in front of me was single. Over the far bank of the canal was a home run. Over the Green Monster bridge was not only a home run, but a feat to be marveled at. I played regular season games, playoffs and even the World Series. If the batter was right handed, I hit from the right side. For lefties, I hit from the left side. Turned me nto a good switch-hitter in real life. I have no idea how many rocks I hit...thousands over the years, I would think.

Used to sit on the canal banks at night trying to get a catfish while listening to the Oakland A's games. I would give anything to go back and do it again.