AS A YOUNGSTER who was very avid about trout fishing when the weather was warm, but sad that the trout season didn’t start “officially” until May 1, I and my band of merry early-teen enthusiasts often just couldn’t stand the wait so we’d sneak into whatever trout water was ice-free and, using a unique set of advanced stealth methods, were able to avoid being caught most of the time, and never by a game warden.

We can’t take the credit for this one particular method of setting up a warning that the wardens were coming, but we found out that it was a great tool. Much of our before-season trout catching was done at the fly-only lower pond at Peverley Brook, a stream that is now completely on the former Pease Air Force Base. This was a set of two ponds connected and created by a dam that was built as a water source for the city of Portsmouth.

The pond was about a quarter-mile long and only about 100 yards across. And alongside the pond was a dirt road that serviced the dam equipment at the far end of the pond at a second dam that eventually let its overflow out into Great Bay.

After a couple events that almost got us caught before the season’s fishing, we learned from a couple of older kids who also had a fondness for the preseason fishing that the wardens would drive their vehicle part-way down the road and then sneak down on foot. That technique was effective enough but the kids could outrun those wardens any day.

But the close calls woke up their spirit of discovery, which was to line the two-rut dirt road with small dry branches and broadcast the coming of the law when their vehicles broke the branches.

So we were smart enough to mimic what was working for them and although we had some very close calls, we never got caught, at least by the law.

One warm February day, I and two buddies got the fishing urge and the older of the group had access to his dad’s old Ford sedan so with fishing gear stowed in the car’s trunk, we went on patrol.

At Peverley Brook we found that the lower pond was almost entirely iced-over but a very attractive pool where the upper pond spillway dumped into the lower pond, was ice-free and like a magnet. Instantly there were two happy fishermen with the older one guarding the road that ran over the dam.

I had caught a very respectable brookie and had it strung on a sapling hanging in the water to keep it fresh. But before we could make another cast, a blast of that old Ford’s horn and a warning shout brought us running and we jumped into the back seat and took off, noting that the vehicle that was heading down the hill was driven by a man in uniform, so we quickly determined it was a warden.

At that time my family was living in a home attached to my dad’s corner grocery store. He woke me up that next morning to tell me that an old-time friend who’d taken me fishing a few times had dropped off “your trout.” It was Pearly Eastman, who was a toll collector. In those days they wore a uniform not unlike the game wardens!

We’d gotten away with another preseason fishing day and even had the spoils of the hunt, so to speak.

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Dick Pinney’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Reach him at