EMBT Guest Blogger
A few weeks ago I got to take my children to the hatchery in Rifle and it was better than ever. The best part of any hatchery visit, for me, is feeding the fish. We scoured the car ashtray, under the seats and dug to the bottom of my purse looking for quarters to pour into the reimagined gumball machine for food to drop into the tanks of fingerlings and cathables - being careful to save enough for my favorite...the big fat monsters at the end.
Two problems; 1. We could only find one quarter. 2. There wasn't any food in the machine. Fish Hatchery FAIL! I was about to put my heartbroken children back in the car when "Sarah" walked out of the office and onto the catwalk.
"Hi!" she said, obviously waiving to us, as we were the only people visiting the hatchery on that day.
My kids can spot a mark a mile away. They knew, as sure as my Sweet Baboo can read a pretty trout stream, that they had a lunker on the end of their line.
Cameron made the first move. He flashed the dimple he keeps buried in his right cheek, cocking his head to the left and letting the sun glint right off it into Sarah's eyes. "'Scuse me...there isn't any fish food in the machine." The first blow hit Sarah hard. She didn't fall off the catwalk, but she did sway back a forth a bit.
Delaney, sensing weakness, moved in. "Cameron. Don't bother this nice lady. She's very busy taking care of all the little fish. Look how cute they are. I wonder if they're hungry?"
Sarah was holding onto the rail to keep herself from falling into the tank. But my children wouldn't let up. They just kept at her - blow after blow of cuteness were hurled at the helpless Sarah who had no idea what she was going to face when she walked out of the hatchery office that morning.
"My Daddy works for Trout Unlimited."
"We love to catch and release."
"When I grow up I hope I can work at a fish hatchery just like you."
Sarah was done for. "Would you like to feed the fish?" she asked, as she was reaching for the 5 gallon bucket filled with food. (Sorry Sarah - you never had a chance.)
She handed over the entire bucket, approximately $6,264 worth of fish pellets, and turned them loose.
Six hours later I got to load them into the car and drive them home. They very carefully went to every single tank, making sure each size fish got a little/lot of food. They pointed out the one's with "owies." They experiemented with feeding them handfuls versus one pellet at a time. They even lay on their stomach's and tried to hand feed the fish - but would scream and jump up every time one almost got to them.
I took pictures and looked at every fish they pointed out and wondered... Is it possible that I may have had a Top 10 Best Day Ever, at the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery? I'm pretty sure I did.