August 31st, 1998
Old dog-New tricks
I recently had another lesson in fishing. As usual, I was not
aware of it at the time. It was on that salmon/sturgeon fishing trip in August.
My wife and I decided for our 25th anniversary to go after some coho
(silver salmon) at Seaside, Oregon. We booked a charter boat with a few
other folks and arose early on the day of departure. Through no fault of
ours, we arrived late, the boat had left an hour before. After some
maneuvering we made contact and the boat swung into a dock downstream
and we boarded.
So much for the set up of the lessons. We were
introduced to the others as the Captain rammed the throttle forward
and roared out to the center of the huge Columbia river. After about
ten minutes of travel we slowed to a stop and he let out the anchor;
we were only in about fifty feet of river water. The others folks swung
the short boat rods over the side and waited. The deck-hand went to
each and with a practiced ease, flung the lead and herring combination
about sixty feet from the boat.
When he came to me he started to do the same
thing and I asked for some information as to what can I expect and
exactly what should I do. Had I not asked, I am sure he would have
told me something, just not as much stuff as I wanted to know. The
question must have sparked something in him and he gave me a full
and detailed answer. As he did, I would ask some simple questions,
to make sure I understood exactly what he was telling me. This
seemed to form a sort of bond between us. All through the day any
time I had a question, I felt no embarrassment to again inquire.
I listened intently as he explained that the
fish did not like the bait to move. Keep it still. Well, the boat
was swinging with the anchor and I would let out line or take
some in to keep the bait form dragging on the bottom (mending
my line?). I noticed that the others didn't do this; the tips of
their rods would keep bobbing as the bait bumped along. The
deck-hand also told my what a bite would feel like; in exact
detail. I listened. I also got the first sturgeon. I got the biggest
sturgeon. I got the most sturgeon.
Why? Probably just luck. But, you will
have a hard time convincing me that was the only reason. As I
was shown, when a fish bites, lower the rod tip. Let it take some
line. On one fish I had to strip some line off the rod to be able to
pay out some slack to it. With the rod pointed straight at the fish,
I came back solid to no more than a ninety degree angle to the line
so as not to create any slack.
I guess my point is, I was more than ready
to admit I knew nothing about what we were supposed to do out
there. And by being willing to ask was well rewarded with all the
details. We became friends and I left a nice tip at the end of the
trip as well. I had a great time and learned a bit of sturgeon fishing.
My second point is this. Unbeknown to us,
before we had boarded that day, one of the others had informed
all within ear-shot, (the Captain and deck-hand included) he knew
all there was to know about sturgeon fishing. I have no idea if he
asked any questions. I have no idea if anyone gave him any information;
I rather doubt they did. He did not get any sturgeon. He never got a bite.
How did the Captain feel about this? I don't know. I do know they were
happy for us, and I won the hat for the biggest fish. Case closed.~JC
Till next week, remember ...