Yes, it is a fishing story. But it is much more. So valued you can measure by counting the waves of the ocean. [I like that…lots.]
Was fishing with a wonderful friend “who just happens” to be an excellent fishing guide. His name is Chris Vertopoulos. To me he is Zorba and to him I am Padre. That works.
We fished this week. Was able to catch two winter steelhead [a picture to follow], both hatchery which can be retained. Even caught one at the take-out ramp. We couldn’t take out our boat because too many boats waiting for that ahead of us. So, Zorba rowed back up to “let’s fish the take-out this time. Let’s take advantage of the congestion.”
BAM! FISH ON! Great battle [emotionally they always are]. Zorba landed the steelhead immediately across from the take-out. A nice moment. Hey, honest here. A great moment as Zorba announced, “Padre? It’s a hatchery!” Yeah. And I sensed 8 sets of eyes looking at us. I didn’t gloat, but the joy inside was huge…again, count the waves.
The next day fishing was slow. Until. About 4 hours into the float my rod was almost jerked out of the rod holder. I grabbed the rod which was bent in a perfect bow and looked downstream as the fish zinged out the line…what a great song, a singing reel. It jumped, completely out of the water. Zorba saw it, “Padre…it’s huge! REEL!”
Always being good to the guide’s guidance I did my best. However. [Ah, isn’t life filled with lots of however’s? Think they are called caveats.] The reel was left-handed. Okay. I’m a portsider when it comes to pitching a baseball. But in reeling a reel…all right-handed. This was a left-handed reel.
Still, my attempt was strong. Reeling wasn’t so good. Gaining, though. We were anchored, which didn’t seem to be a problem.
I looked downstream and half-way between our boat and the steelhead was a very large leafless tree in the river at the shoreline. It wasn’t moving. But, the fish was.
No mystery what happened next. The steelhead, filled with wisdom and need to escape swam UNDER the large limbs. And then didn’t move. “Come and get me if you can” had to be its mantra.
So we did. Lowered the boat downstream. The other client took the net to hold on to the tree. I dipped the rod into the river up to the reel. And tugged. And tugged. And tugged. Count the waves.
Then we looked up and four tree limbs over [each limb at least 5 inches in diameter] the steelhead came to the surface. I gulped. Friends, this steelhead [they always look larger to me in the water—water has a magnifying effect] Oh, my. At least twice the size of the picture below.
Zorba stood next to me, “Padre, let me try.”
Friends and neighbors. My very own buddy Zorba tried to get the line off those limbs for 20 minutes. That is not an altered fact. Again the fish came up. Think the fish’s middle name was probably Tease.
Then, “Padre, we are stuck,” at which point he pulled.
The line slackened. The fish on its way.
Fortunately, the fish will be okay.
The adventure, though, as I pondered [for most of the last 4 days] had lessons. First and foremost, I will use a right-handed reel from now on. Second, the fish is free to make zillions [that’s altered fact] of little fishies. And, third, a profound appreciation for Zorba. Nobody works harder, no one is more skilled and no one is more appreciated.
So. Zorba smiled and sighed, “Padre, we gotta remember. We don’t catch all the fish.”
He’s right…still, what an adventure…fishing. No greater therapy for me. And my value for fishing has never been greater.
And the good. Hey, it’s life itself. No matter. Congestions. Problems. Lost fish. Values must reign.
And then it hit me this morning…the political mess we’re in. When light happens—Starbuck’s will hire 10,000 immigrants and Canada will not turn them back. And whatever your religion, the value of each person [or fish] is more measurable than the waves. Time for giving thanks. Lots of waves.