Alaska, Day Seven

There’s three things not shown clearly in this picture. The Peppa Pig “Not Today” t-shirt that any seasoned fisherman knows is a sure sign of an angler who means business. A thousand sharp teeth inside this monster that magically found its gills in my hook. And me, wondering if those sharp teeth are going to seek vengeance on losing the battle against a 40 year old punk wearing a Peppa Pig t-shirt.

My father taught me how to cast flies, albeit reluctantly. Having numerous layovers in mountain towns with adjacent rivers, one of my classic ideas came to fruition and the Overnight Anglers Society was formed in the summer of 2007. Starting as a way to get out and enjoy layovers, the Overnight Anglers Society has grown to a membership of two, and if Coleman and I are lucky, we may get a third member here shortly. 

When my father was showing me when and where to bend and snap (sadly he didn’t get the reference), I asked him who taught him the art of the perfect cast. With a brief sigh and an immediate change in his disposition, he told me tales of growing up in the south side of Chicago where his father taught him how to cast. Apparently, his father would place buckets all around the yard and before my dad could play with his friends, he had to throw casts right into the bucket without hooking a tree, a fence, or himself. 

Needless to say, dad liked to fish, but not as much as he was willing to admit. And I’d say I was the same. Throwing a few flies in Montana and Nebraska and Colorado layovers, the thought of fishing was not the first thing that came to mind when I was searching for fun, but it was an excuse to get outside. And it usually invoked a similar feeling in my coworkers, so the quiet alone time standing next to a river pretending to know what hatch was happening was a welcome reprieve from the rigors of running regional jets through the atmosphere. 

My brother loved to fish too, more than my dad and I combined. But then he got into birds, and being married to a minimalist, binoculars are much easier to find a home in our closet and in my suitcase. And observing living things is a lot less worrying than holding a living teeth-lined finger trap that won’t stop moving so I can get a picture to brag about for a few months. I mean, the Flying Fisherman himself bagged the largest one that day, a 36 inch lingcod that will soon be airlifted home and become fish tacos. 

Hearing tales of other excursion-ees who took other boats out of Knudson Cove and came home skunked, I’m reminded of the moment that Skip, our captain, peered his head out of the cockpit (or whatever you call it on a boat) and asked if we minded if he smoked. Immediately I knew (not that I ever doubted) that he knew what he was doing. Louise, his wife, after setting the rods and reels up for our elite team of veteran fishermen (the fish whisperer himself Bryan, Rob, Mark, our new friend Rocky, our lone fisherwoman K-Stew, and this long-haired Peppa Pig fanboy), set us some smoked salmon and crackers to enjoy while the Katrina Lynn bobbed in the waves of passing cruise ships and somewhat gentler breezes. My first cold soda of the week, a Pepsi as a matter of fact, fueled me up for the fight of the day. 

What Bryan first called a heap of kelp, a ferocious lingcod and I went to war, with nothing but fear, determination, and 30 pound test to separate us. Louise grabbed the net, wrangled the monster in the boat, and our goals of bringing home a multi-specie bounty were completed. Not to be outdone, K-Stew reeled in a 31 inch lingcod, Bryan and Rocky a sea bass, Mark with likely the two or three largest of the silvers, and a handful of kings too small to be taken aboard. 

Paperwork aside, my bounty (and one donated silver that’s going to be smoked as soon as it arrives) will make its way home much to the chagrin of my daughter Kenzi. And I will try to enjoy the fruits of Louise and Skip’s labor, and my brief moments of setting a hook and cranking that sucker in. Til the next time I can live my Quint life again, not chasing bluegills or tommycods. But let’s be honest. Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll spot those birds for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy.