Ichthyology 101 - A Favorite Undergrad Course Offering

Ichthyology 101 - A Favorite Undergrad Course Offering
I'm not certain that it was Shippensburg's first-ever course offering in the area of Fisheries Biology, but I am certain that no course before it came close to meeting Ichthyology 101's objectives. The class rolls and attendance sheets have long been forgotten. Grades were never given nor recorded. You could take the course as an audit, but absolutely no credit was given for those that successfully completed the requirements.

I am surmising that some of the students in this course may never admit that they attended the class, because it did incorporate some Animal House associations and antics. Others who have repeatedly heard of the class activities might assume that they had indeed been in attendance when, in fact, they may not have been. After all, the course was offered a long time ago during the Spring Term of 1973, and details become less factual with the passage of time.

Pre-course requirements? None. No registration, no fees, no texts, and no material fees were mandated.

We met just after dusk on a Friday evening under the bridge, like trolls, close to the town library. The library location was by chance it had nothing to do with research.

The professor, Emeritus Yours Trulyous, brought the monofilament line, assorted hooks, and some bread crusts (courtesy of Esther, assistant manager of Kriner Diner on campus).

Course Objective: To catch and later cook up as many of the hand-fed, monstrous trout that lived under that bridge as we could and still sneak out of the area without being caught. Another unforeseen challenge, we soon learned, was to try to do this quietly and not cause any disturbances in the quiet town of Shippensburg.

Don't ask me how we accomplished our course goals, but we did. Within an hour or so, we had over a dozen colossal trout in our burlap bag and pillow case and were on our way to our apartment at 31 North Earl Street, where the bathroom shower floor would serve as our temporary holding station. The butchering took place out back on the small lawn, and the final cleaning was done in the kitchen sink.

We baked the fish in shifts because the apartment oven could only hold four or five brown giants at a time.

Keeping with the high academic standards of our school, we managed to do some noteworthy research regarding both fishing and culinary aptitude. If anyone ever told you that tame, bread-fed fish growing to gigantic size in protective waters don't taste particularly good, we were proud to discover the falsity of that statement. Seasoned with only salt and pepper, the white flesh was a taste bud delight, worth every second of our extensive labor.

We were fairly certain, too, that the camaraderie, the challenge, and the quantity of quarts of National Bohemian all played vital parts in the success of the feast.

I will forever remember Ichthyology 101 as one of my all-time favorite courses. Always a firm believer in life-time learning, I hope to contact some of my former classmates only to compare research notes, of course.

Dave Potchak, SHIP alumnus '74

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA