Count The Waves

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.



About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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