The little camera tried in vain to capture the stoic shade where it stood, gazing out onto the lake; as it also paid attention to the large, bungling creature that had just appeared and seemed about to disturb its vigil. Blur after blur snapped through the lens and onto the little memory card, whilst the eyes took in all the details down to this silent bird's clear beak-tip. One step forward on my part, and the great wings suddenly unfolded to snatch it up and carry it towards less inhabited shores.
As my feet crunched over the gravel and sand, another movement caught my eye, further inland. An older gentleman stood by the river's edge,
contemplating me as he lit a cigarette. Not very observantly, I asked if he'd had any luck (as he put the two pieces of his rod together), and he chuckled that he had just gotten there himself. After a quiet exchange of pleasantries, I set up my own rod and quietly waded out into the lake.
I was in no hurry, to tell the truth. I'd taken a quick look at the river graph before I left home. Though there had been some rain during the previous day, it had hardly been enough to create more than a small spike in water levels. Still, it was a quiet morning, and I hadn't fished since the previous weekend - when I'd watched JP again miss a couple of fish - but I had caught nothing. I pulled a cigar out of my pocket, placed a roe bag on my hook, cast my offering & started to feel around for my lighter. It didn't take many drifts for me to recall that I had left the lighter up in the car; nor to ascertain that there were indeed fish in the area - as my float took a sudden swerving dip and something bright and silvery pulled and yanked at my arms for a few seconds, before disappearing into the as-yet sunless waters!
I remembered that the other fisherman, just a few yards upstream, had been smoking a cigarette, so I went quickly to beg him for a light. Once this was accomplished, I returned to my spot and started again. I savoured the luxuriant smoke as it wafted over my head and off into the gentle breeze. I also reset my offering and whisked a cast into the current.
What followed was an exhilarating two hours of mayhem, filled with crushed roe bags, snapped-off hooks and severed tippet. One moment, the float would
dip quickly and the offender was gone before I could set the hook; another, a large, angry fish yanked the float down and sped off at uncontrolled speed until the pressure abruptly vanished, and my line came back with nothing but a forlorn corkscrew of line where the knot had broken under stress. It was the kind of morning where one doesn't count - though, of landed fish, there weren't many, I must admit.
Still, I managed to bring two ashore that made for good photographic material, the best of which a fellow angler very kindly took pictures with my camera. You can see it to the left, and below, a beautiful, pristine hen steelhead which fought with more electricity and vivacity than any of the chinook I had been allowed to master up to then. In fact, when I first hooked it, it had freakishly rushed at me - right under my rod - dragging the tip squarely into the bottom and dangerously risking a "break off" of the absolute worst kind! Only a quick spinorama on my part, aided by letting off all pressure on the line, saved my rod tip from utter fracas.
Then suddenly, there was an element of the surreal as I peeked at the time:
Time. Like the heron, my morning on the water was gone. I packed up my rod and headed for the car, with only one last wistful backward glance at the lake; and in Thanksgiving, for the incredible good luck that had brought about the coinciding of one of my rare trips with conditions of even rarer occurrence. I'd promised 9:30am but wouldn't make that now...
Time to start the engine, put the car in gear, ease into the ever increasing rush forward: the long road awaits.