Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Got Out Crick Fishin'

Today I got my priorities straight. Never have I heard of anyone on their death bed lamenting, “I should have balanced the checkbook every month,” or “The failure of my life is that I didn’t keep the cupboards organized.” So I crawled out from under my winter rock to go fishing, and it was good.

In an effort to not be overly organized I threw a little gear together and made sure not to check if the knife was sharp. This was intended as a shakedown outing, so I picked an easy spot on the Thorne River. Easy meaning that it was a one minute walk from the truck to the river, and there didn’t appear to be too many obstacles in the water. Fish may love being near logs and rocks, but I needed to practice a little in fairly open water.

 After five or so years of not seriously crick fishin’ it took a few casts for my hands to remember the moves, and then to sort out the difference between the feel of bumping through weeds and the tugging of a trout. As the rhythm seeped into my arms I relaxed into the environment.  The river swept concerns away, and an hour of sunshine turned up the color. Wind shushed through the trees, breaking free and scattering cat’s paws across the water. Two Canada geese flew over, honking to each other with every wingbeat.

I had hoped that steelhead would be on the dinner menu. It wasn’t to be, though, and I was happy with a few of the abundant Dolly Varden. Nothing big, just fourteen-inch-long silvery char with light pink spots speckled down their sides. I clean them quickly, cook them the same day, and they make a good meal. Put a light smoke on them before cooking and they make a great meal.

 A fly fisherman in the Thorne River on Prince of Wales Island.

A fly fisherman in the Thorne River on Prince of Wales Island.

I use spincasting gear, but occasionally watch fly fishermen to see if that is something that I want to learn. Some of it looks okay, but I don’t think that I would ever reach the pinnacle of competency; when fly fishing becomes so natural and effortless that you can smoke a cigar while fly fishing in the rain.

Yes, a little rain shower came through.

This fisherman nodded approval when I hand signaled a request to photograph him. Thank you, Fly Fisherman!

Pixee spoons are pretty popular around here.

I just don’t know if I could take up smoking cigars. Plus standing thigh high in cold water would dampen my mood.

There is a grace to flyfishing, though. It is process driven; an artform, from the delicate, meditative work of tying flies, to perfecting the sweeping cast, to dancing with a fish connected by the barest thread of a line.

Fishing itself has always been product driven for me: catch the fish, bring it in quickly to minimize suffering, clean it right away to maintain table quality. Happily all of that happens in the surroundings that I love.

Luckily I didn't hang any gear in trees. It has happened in the past, though!

There was time to go for a little walk. Some lovely ornaments adorned the trees; a celebration of summer!

The one below is my favorite.

I'll get out fishing again, and get some pictures of the rivers and the fish to share with you. I need to go find the knife sharpener first, though.

Alaska Beachcomber