California residents Eric Simoni, JT Thomson and Eric Smith were at the right place at the right time on Prince of Wales last week. Photo by Jeff Lund.

California residents Eric Simoni, JT Thomson and Eric Smith were at the right place at the right time on Prince of Wales last week. Photo by Jeff Lund.

Value the moment, even if it’s fishless

There is nothing new under the sun.

So really, there are no new fishing columns. Unless of course you’re talking about new technology, which I am not.

Fishing columns are about new friends, new water, old friends, old water. Fishing columns are about the time you caught the fish you shouldn’t have. They are about the time the fishing was incredible. They are about the time the fishing was awful, but you found a secret to life in a bird or tree leaf or something else and you write about it to make it seem like you weren’t fuming what you wanted to happen, didn’t.

Fishing columns are about remembering things just wrong enough to make for a story worth reading. But that doesn’t change certain facts.

Two years ago the fishing at the spot I take my California buddies was insane. In. Sane. The boys got spoiled. That’s a fact.

Last year at this time the fishing was slow.

This year the fishing was bad. Four dudes, fishing the same week they always had to river fish, returned to California with zero salmon. Zero. Fishing is fishing and if the fish aren’t there, the fish aren’t there. It’s nobody’s fault. It is what it is.

The fact was the fish were late but I’m not getting into theories. I’m not going to say it’s because of climate change or that the salmon were protesting the election of Donald Trump, because this July is not the first year on record fish have been late. If you start seeing everything through filters, well, you start seeing everything through filters.

Anyway, the next group benefitted from being a week later. The fish started to show, but only in limited numbers. There was standing. There was stress, but there were fish. Then it happened. Lots of fish happened, and then everything was right in the world. Well, as far as fishing goes.

Things are different for me since I live in Alaska so remembering the times the fish were late isn’t a big deal to me. For the dudes who returned to California fishless, it will be emblazoned in their memory. For the four with boxes of frozen salmon they’ll appreciate how delicate the whole fishing operation is, and will appreciate it on a level spoiled anglers don’t. You do have to take a second when it’s all happening, because they may end up to be the good ol’ days, in which case you’ll look back and put the proper valuation on the moment though you might be remembering it wrong. After all, you are a fisherman.

New fishing columns are rare. They are merely a combination of a place, the fish (there or not) and most importantly, the people you are with. That’s always a column worth writing and a story worth telling.

• Jeff Lund teaches and writes in Ketchikan.

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