Straus’ Place White Mountains fishing saga

By bill straus

Some of the happiest days of my youth were spent at summer camp. Camp Wonderland (yep, that was the name) was nestled in the hills just north of Greer, and my memories of those days have stayed with me for over 58 years. And I loved fishing up there. Oh, I still do, but don’t get to do it very often anymore. Then, two years ago, I met Patti. I discovered that she, too, loved to fish, and she’d never been to Greer. That’s all I needed!  We were heading north and I was going to write this column all about recapturing those old memories.

I’ve been talking up our big trip for almost the whole two years we’ve been together. I raved about the scenery, the daily thunderstorms and, of course, the fishing. Finally, in July, we did it.

We arrived at the White Mountains Lodge B&B (awesome place!) and couldn’t wait to fish. So we were off to the Little Colorado River, one of the sites of my most memorable youthful fishing accomplishments. We found a spot where they were pulling trout out at an astonishing rate. We, too, had immediate luck, landing three good-size rainbows. Then we discovered why. The trout were literally clumped together in droves. I tried Googling for an explanation of this phenomenon but came up empty. These droves were so large, and the fish so hungry, it was like fishing at Fred’s Trout Farm. The fishermen there were gleefully telling us they didn’t even need bait! The trout just jumped at anything and everyone was getting their limit. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t sport. We became disgusted and left.

The next day, we headed over to Big Lake. Nothing. The manager of the general store there told us it was because of a strong hail storm a day before. Nevertheless, it was very disappointing. But we weren’t through. We fished the Greer Lakes and again, nothing. Nary a bite! But I must add here that we just love the act of fishing. Actually catching fish is secondary to the act itself.

We also tried to find the site of my old camp, but again, we were out of luck. This trip was not turning out as I imagined. And then I started to feel sick. I was suffering from altitude sickness (Greer is at 8,400 feet). If you’ve never felt it, you’re lucky. Not fun.

I really wanted to write this column highlighting the successes of our little trip. Successes? It must sound to you like the trip was a total failure. But that was not the case! No, I didn’t recapture those memories I sought. But even with all of the bumps in this particular road, we had fun. We were able to laugh at our frustrations. And we maybe, possibly, hopefully, created some new memories upon which we’ll look back with a smile. We may even go back. But not for a while.