My memory, though some twinges of fading, never lacks clarity when recalling fishing adventures. I could—but I won’t—tell you about my first salmon, 1949 at the learning age of 9, losing a 20 pound Spring Chinook Salmon.
Ah, fishing. Some say it’s all about being out and about, casting…and at times, catching. Seeing the eagles soar, the wind getting its voice rippling the water into large choppiness, knowing the Psalmist has it on target, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Or something like that. It’s the journey and not the destination. It’s the time on the river. It’s the casting…feeling the surge of anticipation…will this be the catching cast? NOTHING’S more important than fishing. Catching is a footnote.
Well, folks. Every word of that last paragraph, as I scripted it, my nose grew. And grew.
Truth revisited: CATCHING MATTERS.
Especially after fishing a good work day for two days and only having a fish bite [and no fish brought to the net] each day. I thought, “What is this?” I thought of “Am I here to not even catch one fish?” as my Forks guide, Bob Ball, and I had breakfast. Fished beautiful water on Tuesday on the Skagit River and on Thursday with Bob on the Calawah. That’s was fishing and not catching.
We launched on the Calawah. Here’s Bob getting everything ready:
We fished with a bobber floating the surface and a shrimp bait beneath about 3 feet. Let me first say the Calawah River is my favorite. It’s also the riskiest to float; only about 10% of the guides fish it. Bob is one of those 10% guides. Which is good because it never becomes combat fishing, darting around like water bugs trying to fish a hole for the first time that day.
The “REAL” adventure began. About 30 minutes downstream the bobber darted down, the hook-set [always try to reach midnight on a clock motion—lifting straight up] and in my mind at least…wish I had a camera, the fish exploded to the river’s surface, did its acrobat jumping…and then to the net. Goodness, it probably was 17 pounds. Now that’ a FISH. Bob got a good picture. Pretty big:
We released the fish…and three others…because they were wild/native steelhead. Was catch and release.
Then a 5th fish…so beautiful…a wild/native steelhead…a chrome bright hen. Bob said we’d tether it to the boat and then put it in a tube and take it to the hatchery, so it could be helping future steelhead to spend a year in the river, then head to the ocean and return to the spawning spot in three years [those are the larger ones].
Here’s a pict of the 5th steelhead:
About to get on a jet plane and return to Austin. Ah, what memories…how fishing can be “down” and “up.” And to think…in 3 years maybe I can return to the Calawah…and catch the son or daughter of this beautiful steelhead. Now THAT’S a life cycle worth waiting for!