1970 Not knowing what else to do with her, her inadvertent hosts handed her a rod and reel, a can, and a shovel.
“There’s some loose soil behind the shed. Get as many worms as you can,” was followed by directions to the brook. The “Please stay gone until supper,” was understood. They had work to do. If she had to be bored for several hours, so be it.
Baiting the hook wasn’t straightforward. Whole worm? Segments? She addressed the worms. “Do I serve you with, or without? Dressing on the side? Should I cover the hook, or leave some showing?” The worms, first marvelously fat, then stringy as they stretched to escape, remained mute. They did not “Go gentle into that good night.”
She cast. The trout bit. They bit and got hooked. They bit and got away. They totally ignored the bait, then bit again. No luck in one pool? Head to the next. Her world narrowed into pools and riffles. She stopped only once, when a rabbit’s scream signaled a successful supper hunt for what, a coyote? When the hair on the back of her neck settled back down, she cast again.
She knew, just knew, that there would be one more fish. She cast as it became harder and harder to see, but then stopped. She came to and looked up for the now-absent sun. She’d fished until dark.
1975 His neighbors took them salmon fishing in the strait
When she felt the tug, she thought she’d snagged the hook in rocks or a submerged branch. That’s how used to river fishing she was. “SET THE HOOK,” they chorused none too gently, startling her into jerking the rod straight up. The hook set on the only catch of the day. The salmon was lovely shiny powerful wriggling massive and later, dinner. She’d caught a salmon, and was delighted. He’d gotten skunked, and pouted. Ha, too bad for him!
1978 We didn’t exactly sneak into the camp; the gates were wide open.
Fishing off the dock in the coast rain, we hooked what had to be A Monster Fish. Yes, a definite upper case, holy smokes, “Oh yeah Baby!” sized fish. A thrashing, flailing, left and right zinger of a fish. We worked it towards the dock. Ten feet away, nine…and gone. Susan: What was that? Me: Big…really big…
The rain took no notice, and kept coming down.
2014 “Let’s Not Wait Till the Water Runs Dry…”
Day 1: As she reached to signal the turn, a freight train pulled ahead of the van, and then stopped smack across the gravel access road, blocking the way. She waited, firm in her belief that new fishing territory waited on the other side.
The train turned off its engine. She turned off the van. She enjoyed the smells of sage, albeit with a faint eau de diesel. The train sat. She sat. She studied railroad logos and graffiti. The minutes passed.
What was that she saw out of the corner of her eye? She turned and saw her patience sneaking out the side window. She hauled it back into the van. “A good chance for living in the moment,” she thought, substituting the Zen of fishing with the Zen of waiting out railroad crossing delays. The train continued to sit, evidently better at meditating than she’d ever be.
In the passenger seat next to her, “When are we going to get there” irritation sat straight up. Before she could intervene, it gave “Be in the moment” Zen a smack, sending it into the back seat. “Worse than kids on a long trip,” she sighed.
Didn’t federal or state regulations limit the amount of time trains could block public roadways? Right, along with “Your call will be answered in the order it was received.” She turned around and drove home.
Day 2: New fishing territory was still waiting. She repeated the drive. The train was gone. She was ready to fish. The drive was worth it. The van topped the rise, giving her a full view of the reservoir. She stared. Drained for the winter.
2016 Coffee Pot, Twins, and Potholes
“The sound of the great Ice Age floods would have been terrifying: some 530 cubic miles of water bursting through a wall of ice more than 2,000 feet high; roaring over Eastern Washington at speeds of up to 80 miles an hour; drilling deep crevices into ancient basalt, stripping away topsoil in some areas, piling it up in others…”
In eastern Washington’s scablands, the seep lakes seem to be everywhere.
If you can’t wrap your mind around Ice Age floods, just picture Michelangelo’s Hand of God reaching down from the sky to poke a little finger sized-lake here, dig an index finger-gouged trough there, and then make a scatter of indented thumbprints. Repeat at random intervals. Fill the indents with lovely water, then fill the lakes with lovely fish.
The only fish I caught in the Seep Lakes was a pumpkinseed. It was perfect. It was enough. It was so beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. I stopped fishing.