by Scott Sadil
You know the moment: One day, you wake up and the daffodils are in bloom, fruit trees are speckled in blossoms pink and white, and hopeful dicotyledons stand bravely in the pot on the deck where you allowed last year’s cilantro to go to seed.
It’s true, it’s true. No matter what they tried to do to us last year, or the year before that, trout season has arrived once more.
Old fogy or fading relic, call me what you will, I like to kick off the new season with the sort of sport that includes a genuine camping trip. Remember? A tent, open campfire, coffee pot and gas lantern, those lousy chairs you sink into, worried you’ll need help when it comes time to head for the bushes. I have a friend who drags around a house on wheels and a boat when he goes trout fishing these days. He says I’d better be careful: One morning I’m going to wake up in my latest little two-man tent and— surprise! — I won’t be able to get up off the ground.
But it’s hard to shake these old habits. Or maybe not changing is part of the appeal. I’m pretty sure the plastic carrying case for my Coleman lantern was a long-ago Christmas gift from my father. Plenty of time to consider these and other historical tangents while I lace on a fresh set of silk mantles, set them aflame, fill the tank, oil the leather seal in the pump, wash the soot from the Pyrex globe, then reassemble and fire that puppy up.
Good as new, and just think how many frou-frou flashlights and other new-and-improved camp lights have I been through since then?
While I’m at it, let’s take a file to the hatchet and the splitting maul. Just like that, a keen edge, another one of those little things that will make any day on the water that much brighter.
At some point, however, you have to get serious: What the heck are you going to eat?
An old subject. Then again, is there any significant topic that isn’t old? I may be foolish to let this one out of the bag, but it would selfish to carry wisdom this good to the grave.
DESCHUTES RIVER MEDLEY
Heat a generous splash of olive oil in your Griswold or similar skillet.
Peel and chop into bite-size pieces an entire yam.
Remove the casings from a half-dozen bratwursts.
Once the oil in the skillet is hot, add the yam and bratwurst.
Chop the bratwurst into bite-size chunks while it cooks.
Meanwhile, remove the seeds from a passilla or poblano pepper; slice and dice the pepper and add to the skillet.
Cut the stems from a dozen Brussel sprouts. Quarter each Brussel sprout and add to skillet.
When the meat looks almost cooked, test with a fork to see if the yams are done as well. Tear up three or four leaves of fresh kale and add to the skillet. Season liberally with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.
When the kale wilts and turns deep green in color, and you can squash the chunks of yam with a fork, you’re ready to eat.
Serve with, say, a Deschutes Brewery Black Butter Porter or glass of Côtes du Rhône red wine.
Now, that’s trout season.
During the pandemic, Gray’s Angling Editor Scott Sadil added a killer homemade Finnish sourdough rye bread, à la James Beard, to his repertoire of camp larder fare.