Fishing is a solitary pursuit, for the most part. It’s you, the water, the weapon of choice, in my case a fly, and the prey. It’s a hunt, catch and release ritual that I have enjoyed since I was a little girl.
I wasn’t always armed with a fly. On lakes, it could have been a wedding band, on the ocean, for the most part, it was an icy blue mini hoochie.
From a rock jetty, it was an invention my dad came up with called a “jetty bobber” and a hook with “pucky” on it. “Pucky” was the official name dad had for the secret mixture on the end of the hook he had concocted. It was deadly, (not to mention stinky), as we never came off the jetty without our limit. The name made me laugh like crazy.
I traipsed all over the state of Oregon to fish with my dad. It was a hunt we both enjoyed. We fished rivers, creeks, saltwater inlets and bays, and eventually, commercially fished together from a boat appropriately named the “Nemo.” Seriously! We had other boats with curious names, like a big rubber raft we dubbed the “Bahama Mama,” but we bought the Nemo with that name, pre-cartoon.
We always had fun fishing together and fell into a ritual of sorts. The night before we went fishing, we readied the gear with the precision of surgeons. Gear was tied, rods readied, reels cleaned and inspected, waders, vests (full of leader lines and split weights, clippers, tape measure, scissors, and the occasional old sandwich), thermoses were readied for the morning, and finally, all was ready.
We would rise early, jump in the truck, and venture forth in eager anticipation for the day. Oregon was a great state for fishing, as you could be in coastal waters in the same amount of time as you could be in the beautiful waters of the mountain rivers.
I found out pretty early on, that fishing could be the most serene, one-with-the-earth kind of endeavours, or the most frustrating, beat the crap out of the water type of ordeals. If the fish were biting, it was pretty fun, if they weren’t, well, it could be miserable, depending on the day.
I found those days with dad were some of the most memorable of my life. When we ocean-fished on the Nemo, I was the only girl in the fishing fleet, and dad took a lot of ribbing about renaming the boat the “Powder Puff.” I worked as hard as any of the guys in the commercial boats though, and after dad and I were what they call “high boat” (made the most money) they stopped jeering, figured we were serious and took us into the fold. Those were fun times.
So were the times my family would fish together. One summer my mom and dad rented out the house and we camped all over the state of Oregon, never left the borders.
Fished, played, and enjoyed the beautiful state we lived in, all summer. We did however get sick of fish, as that was our main staple for food. All four of us were good at fishing.
At one point in John Day, Oregon, we pulled into a campsite, set up, and the campers next door had apple pie smell wafting out of their window. The next thing I knew, we had traded fish for apple pie. That was such a good trade, my folks and I still laugh about it. Turned out the mayor of John Day was a lousy fisherman, and his wife was a heck of a baker, which suited all of us just fine.
Fishing brought me to Smithers eventually, and the world-class waters I love. It’s a lifetime addiction and fascination, trying to find the right combination of gear, weather, and the fishing gods to mesh until you hit gold and a steelie goes vertical at the end of your line and takes you on a ride. What a blast.
Can’t wait to get out there this year to “wet a line,” swap some stories (maybe a lie or two) about the whoppers we catch (or missed) with the hubby and friends.
I’ll be out there thinking of my dad too, enjoying the memories and thanking my great fortune he started me out on the adventure of a lifetime.