Friday, August 10, 2007

A Fish Story

My entire life I have been exposed to fish stories and believe me all of them are true. When I was a little girl, we spent every summer in Idaho fishing for chinook salmon that made the treacherous journey up the rivers from the Pacific Ocean. The salmon no longer make it all of the way to Idaho and it is our fault. Anyway, that is another subject. My Dad was scrupulously honest and he never needed to embellish his fish stories because he was a truly great fisherman. Talented in every way, he could catch fish in situations where no one else could. My poor brother had a difficult time living up to the legend but he seems to have inherited the ability.

I do, however, remember a fib he told once and I was shocked because I knew him to never lie. There was a fisherman's code on the Salmon River and if someone caught a big fish, the word would spread through the campground or it would be obvious because the big old thing would be hanging on a tree while it was being wiped out and the eggs treated. But never should you approach the person and ask them where they caught it because favorite fishing holes are a private matter especially if they yield the big one. My Dad had probably a 20 to 30 pounder hanging on a nail and a guy walked up to admire it jealously. He asked my Dad where he caught it. .....silence...... Of course, by that time, little Janet had heard the entire exciting story of the catch. You see, I would not have been there because my Dad would get up at 4 AM and I would be in my sleeping bag for at least another five hours.

My Dad calmly and politely told this man where he had pulled the giant king out of the river. Only that was not where it happened and I knew it. I was smart enough to keep quiet. My Dad probably misled him a bit on exactly what he used for bait as well. Yes, I had absorbed the rules of the river and I knew the curious man had been rude to ask what he asked. But, I was still surprised to hear my Dad not tell the truth.

At the moment, Dave and Lucas are up in Canada on the coast of Vancouver Island fishing for the gold medal of salmon, the chinook. They are kind of in the middle of nowhere but I have been up there before in the same spot salmon fishing with Dave many years ago before children came along. This is where my lie comes in to play. Lucas, though he never knew my Dad, is infused with the same passion for salmon fishing. On our last hike together, I reminded Dave that indeed I had been fishing with him in the same place they were headed.

"Oh, yes, now I remember," he recalled. "Lucas, your Mom caused me to lose a 40 lb. salmon on that trip!"

"Mom, are you serious? Is this true? You lost a 40 pounder??"

Turning red and shaking my head, I lied in response, "No, your Dad is losing his memory in his old age. It never happened. He is making it all up. Fish stories, you know."

Naturally, Lucas knew I was prevaricating and believed every word his Dad proceeded to tell him. I went on a lot of fishing trips as a kid but usually, I played with the bait whether it was worms or grasshoppers. And I never learned how to net fish because our Golden Retriever, Laddie, would gently retrieve my Dad's trout out of the Missouri River. When my Dad salmon fished, I was asleep.

Here Dave and I were in the wild waters of the Pacific off the coast of Vancouver Island in a small boat. I was generally scared anyway. Dave hooked a humongous salmon. I have seen a lot of salmon in my life and it was one of the biggest I had ever encountered. It was so gigantic that it frightened me when he reeled it up to the boat. He yelled at me to grab the big net and scoop it up. I think I do not need to spell out what happened next. The fish did not end up flopping on the bottom of our boat. I think I clanked it on the head and scared him as much as he had scared me. Off he zipped, breaking the line. Frankly, it is amazing we are still married after this little episode.

Well, Dave just called me a few minutes ago from a pay phone and I do believe I have been vindicated a little. This morning, as they were trolling in the wild waters of the Pacific off the coast of Vancouver Island, Dave noticed his line started dragging. When he tried to reel it in, he realized it was caught on another line. At first, he assumed he had become entangled with Lucas' line or with his friend. But as he kept reeling in, he noticed it was someone else's line that had broken. Flashers were attached. Lo and behold, on the end of this fishing line was a 25 lb. king salmon. It was tuckered out from having fought the good fight on some other fisherman's pole probably not long before until it broke the line and got away. And then, in the middle of nowhere, this fish just happened to wrap itself around my husband's line.

I advised my husband that if the three of them go to a bar tonight to celebrate the day, they ought to keep this story to themselves. They should just listen to the other stories----about the big one that got away.

Maybe, just maybe, they should buy some poor fellow a drink.


Dave actually did catch a big salmon about 25 pounds the "real" way. They came home with two Chinooks---the big ones---and two Silvers. Last night was Dave's birthday so we ate salmon steaks cut from one of the Chinooks and barbecued perfectly on the grill. Kaley and I drove in the driveway after our trip to smoky Montana just in time for the birthday dinner. We were so thankful to be able to see the sky and breathe fresh Mukilteo air. Montana is burning up. It is humankind's fault on multiple levels though folks do not agree which politicians are to blame. I believe my brother who has worked for the Forest Service for over 30 years in the summers and is an experienced fire fighter. He claims the Forest Service hasn't been allowed to do its job for a variety of reasons or to take preventative measures. It is horrible what is happening to my Montana.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Dave and the big one that did not get away! Bamfield, BC