Pavlov’s Fish

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON. Many of you have heard about the movie...some might have even seen it by now. According to reviews I’ve read, the movie “follows an attempt by some New Zealand fly fishers to track down what can loosely be called a ‘mouse hatch.’ The idea of hitting the timing just right – when an explosion in the rodent population puts the biggest trout on the feed – leads to landing some very nice fish on big mouse patterns in stunningly beautiful surroundings.”

Well, that brings to mind a story...a story that I’ll tell if you promise not to pass it on to PETA. Once upon a time in a prior life I worked in the egg business. A very large egg business. No, the eggs were normal sized, but they sold gazillions of them all over the good ol’ USA.

As we all know eggs come from chickens...girl chickens. For about a year, each of the girls pops out, on average, a little over one egg a day. After that their production goes down they aren’t good for anything other than ingredients for Campbell’s Soup, so they’re replaced. Well, to satisfy the market demand for eggs and to replace the worn out layers that aren't hitting their quotas anymore, it takes a lot of girl chickens. The company that employed me had millions of them, and to get millions of girl chickens you have to go through a lot of eggs. That meant they had to have a hatchery. And since (thankfully) science hadn’t figured out a way to produce only girl chickens, the hatchery produced a lot of boy chickens too. Can you tell the difference in the boys and the girls at one day of age? Neither could I, but there was a family of Chinese folks that were very good at it.

On a regular schedule they would show up at the hatchery to “sex the chickens.” With trays and trays of day old chicks before them, they would grab one, turn it over to inspect the business end and pass judgment. The girls went into another tray and the boys went into 5 gallon plastic buckets. At the end of the day the girls were shuffled off to a rearing facility and the boys –the cockerels – were carted off to THE POND.

A stones throw from the hatchery was THE POND. A pond of about ten acres that was full of huge channel cats and bass. By now you’ve figured out how they got so big. For the sake of the faint hearted, I will avoid going into more details, but suffice it to say that “Pavlov’s Fish” knew when it was dinner time.

Imagine a John Boat. Imagine that John Boat filled with 5 gallon buckets of lively yellow feathered vittles, and imagine that boat making 5 or 6 trips across THE POND on feeding day. I know you’ve seen film of an ocean feeding frenzy...well, the only thing missing was the gulls. The “Chicken Hatch” was a sight to behold.

I never did try to tie up a replica "match the hatch" fly. Didn’t need to, as a yellow Jitterbug got the job done just fine.





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