CHENANGO COUNTY Ė Fishing is a time honored tradition that has entertained and provided food for billions of people throughout time. Education and lifestyle are passed down by our ancestors, which enables us to embrace our heritage.
Heritage is defined as something someone inherits by reason of birth. Many things in life are examples of our heritage; but hunting, fishing and trapping are at the top of the list. The reason for this should be obvious; in that we wouldnít be here had our ancestors not embraced their outdoor roots. The very blood that courses through our bodies is composed of tiny particles of time past. You are the product of every ancestor and ability they held. Were it not for their struggle you would simply not exist. For this reason, there are groups out there that embrace tradition and attempt to pass it on to others.
One such local group is the Otselic Valley Fishing and Heritage Association. They are the driving force behind trout fishing and education in our area. The Otselic hatchery has been pumping trout into our lakes and streams as far back as I can remember and they have now joined forces to bring new people into fishing. In addition, Otselic is home to the oldest and largest fishing line manufacturer in the world. It seems the town should change their name to Fish Town USA.
As mentioned last week, Otselic will be hosting the annual Fishing Heritage Day this week. The event is to be held on Saturday, May 21. If you donít have a rod or bait there is no need to worry, everything will be provided for you if need be. You may also bring your own equipment if you would like. The main offerings will take place at the Otselic fish hatchery. People of any age may try fishing for trout in one of the stocked ponds and will be able to learn about the species, how to catch them, and what we need to do to preserve the fish and water. In the past, 150-200 youth and adult anglers have participated in the program. The NYS DEC and two chapters of Trout Unlimited will be on hand to help and educate the public. This is another great opportunity to get out and learn how to enjoy the outdoors with your family, although fishing is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are many events to attend, including a duck derby. Numbered ducks are dropped into the river and prizes will be received by the winners. Three sets of musicians will be playing in the town park, and the Ross Park Zoomobile from Binghamton will be at the town hall. The US Postal Service will be offering a new 2016 Fishing Heritage Stamp honoring Gladding. There will also be non-profit organizations, arts, crafts, antiques, and food venders available, all to be found in the town park.
Another big attraction will be the Gladding bicentennial anniversary. John Gladding founded the company in 1816, which started making rope before producing the fishing line they are so well known for. They will be holding a rope walk, demonstrations on an old rope braiding machine, and limited tours of the facility. Being someone who has made my own hooks and line to catch fish with, old technologies interest me.
Itís sad this type of knowledge isnít common but unfortunately heritage can be lost and destroyed, especially if no one care takes or passes it on.
We live in a time that threatens our history as people. We are losing more of our connection to the outdoors every day and technology is surely to blame. For this reason, I attempt to emulate the living styles of our ancestors to gain more respect for the past and regain a connection stripped from me by modernity.
I decided a few years back that I wanted to make my own primitive fishing set. I chose to make a bone hook and to use deer sinew for the line. I attached it to a small stick and had my own old school pocket fisherman. To my surprise, not long after making my hole in the ice, I saw a fish try to eat my hook. I was sight fishing, which means I was watching the fish bite the bait through the hole. Not even five minutes in, I was able to catch a nice crappie and within an hour, I had gathered enough for a meal. This was all caught on camera and to my knowledge hasnít ever been done in our area before. Let me say, at that point all I was thinking about was heritage. The gap was bridged between modern times and the past, and I find that is where I feel most at home.
You see, we are all interconnected to our past, through that which was passed down. Whether internally or externally, we canít help but be a reflection of our ancestors and their lifestyles. Some, like me, simply choose to embrace it more often than others.
For a map to the hatchery and Otselic, along with more information and times at which the programs will be held, go to ovfish.org. Please join us and enjoy a wonderful day outdoors learning about the greatness our area contains.
Good wishes and remember to embrace your heritage.