Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sullivan's Net

My grandfather has always had a great impact on my life, not only because he was part of the reason I became interested in Fly Fishing, but because he has thousands of stories about his life that have led me to seek the same kind of adventures that he once embarked on.

Even though I have listened to many of my grandpas stories, I feel like I have only hit the tip of the iceberg with how many stories he actually has. While home in New York after spring semester of school, I visited my grandparents and was surprised when my grandpa presented me with a object that I barely ever use (probably because I could never afford a decent one during school). I was very excited about the thought of having a net because all of the times I wished I had one while trying to handle a decent sized trout at my feet, only to have the hook pop out and the fish escapes.

The net was an interesting one, made with old mesh and a red varnished wood, engraved with the name, Tom Sullivan.  Of course I knew the net would come with a story, which my grandpa had written about many years ago....

Tom Sullivan (Sully) was my grandpas best friend and fishing partner. In the summer of 1947, while attending Cortland, Tom and grandpa embarked on an adventure into the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate NY, in search of wild brook trout. Their destination was Cold River, near the headwaters of the Hudson River.

Water conditions that summer were very low and the guys struggled to find fishable water. They hiked upstream for miles until they found a very long pool, surrounded by steep rock ledges. The deep, dark pool was fittingly named 'the Black Hole" by grandpa and Sully. 

Sully began fishing and landed some very nice brookies, all being about 8-12 inches long (a very nice native brook trout for today's standards). Grandpa decided to hike around to the other side of the Black Hole. He scrambled along the steep cliffs of the pool and eventually began fishing from the other side. It wasn't long until he was hooked up with a large brook trout, a true trophy. He yelled to Sully for assistance. 

When sully arrived, grandpa had the fish close to the rock wall. With no net, Sully took off his hat and got ready to try and land the fish. He tried to scoop the fish up against the rock wall with his hat but the leader snapped and the fish quickly swam into the depths of the Black Hole as grandpa furiously screamed at Sully for losing the fish. 

From that summer on, Sully and my grandpa remained close friends. The saying they used for a joke for many years after the trip was "get the net!" Last Christmas, over 60 years later, grandpa sent Sully the story of their adventure to Cold River. A few weeks later my grandpa received a package in the mail. It was Sully's net with a message explaining the net was for him, in case he ever fished again.

A few days ago my grandpa called with the sad news that Tom Sullivan had passed away. I felt it was necessary to tell the story that my grandpa once told me and explain that the net is being put to good use these days. I hope that Tom can see that his net has ended up in good hands and has helped me land many trout already.

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