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Packbaskets and fish tales

The old, worn packbasket had a very distinctive look. It was woven of black ash splints with a big belly and covered with a heavy, olive drab canvas shell. And, whenever Ol Bill went fishing, it was his constant companion. It wasnt just an old packbasket, it was a trout container at a time when the creel limit was 10 fish a day. He sat on the far shore of Courtney Pond fishing for ice out brook trout. As always, the packbasket was parked beside him that early spring day.

Back in the 1970s, the diminutive, roadside pond located just south of Sharp Bridge Campsite, would receive stockings of brood stock brookies. The hatchery would release the large breeders in the late fall, after the end of the trout season, where they would remain unmolested by anglers until the following season.

Courtney Pond is one of the first ponds in the area to sport open water due to a well placed rock, on the far shore that absorbs the suns rays and melts out the ice in the surrounding area. The size of the hole doesnt matter, rather that it is a natural hole in the ice. Theres usually just enough of a hole for one person to fish.

Bill got there early on the opening day of trout season. He had struggled over the steep snow bank and waded through the deep snow to access the far shore. His were the first tracks of the new season.

As always, the packbasket was parked beside him that early spring day as he baited the hook and cast the first gob of nightcrawlers onto the edge of the ice. He pulled it gently and let it settle in the dark, tannin stained waters of Courtney Pond.

Brookies swarmed all over and in an instant he reeled in the first one; a handsome specimen stretching nearly 18 inches. Unhooking it, the brook trout was released into the packbasket and the process promptly repeated.

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