Fishing The Coast, Oregon and Washington
March 2006

Jennie's Fishing Life


March 1st!

Lavahappy March! Soon we will get to see Mt. St. Helens more often! The sun will shine! I love watching the Volcano cam!
Just a few things, today. I'm really tired. I feel like I've been going for a month, and I just want to crawl under my covers and sleep an equal amount of time! For some reason, ever since the show, I have no voice and no energy! My voice sounds scratchy, or not at all!
I'm drinking lemon water, today. I'll try anything!
When I'm home, it seems I stay in my pajamas till after noon! I've also been ifishing from bed. For some reason, all of the sudden I have a good signal upstairs! It's really a lot nicer to ifish from bed in my pajamas!
Anyhow, I just put up the rest of Stan's "part two" column. I'm not going to tell you what it's about. I'm too shy! But, I'm not too shy to tell you where it is. Click here! You can always find his archives on the discussion board, if you click here.
Also up, this morning is the 10 day, 10 pound ifish challenge diet! Join us! I don't know how well it will work, but it's always nicer to do things with friends and support!
If you want, sign up! It's worth a try! I very well may fail! After all, there is Birthday cake still on the counter! YIKES! Hide it! Hide it!
I remember once someone gave me doughnuts while I was on a strict diet. I looked at them longingly, and then after she left, I smashed them in the dirt and put them back on the plate. They didn't look nearly as tempting, then! Hey! It worked!
Well, since I'm in my pajamas, anyhow... and they are made of thermal material, I might as well head out and go fishing. It's been ages since I fished in the morning. I'm trying to chug enough coffee to give me the boost I need to get out there!
I have had the single WORST steelhead season I've ever had... since I was 12 or so! REALLY! I think I've caught a whole two steelhead? Haven't had one on the bbq! Tonight would be perfect for that! However, the run is mostly native, now, so I doubt I'd find a fresh hatchery fish. Oh well, I need the exercise, right? After all, it is diet week! I'm taking off all of those Christmas goodies!
Have a great day!


Can you see the face image in the water???

March 2nd

I'm putting a dent in my rotten steelhead season, and I'm thinking I'm pretty hot! I am! I am hot! In fact, my thermometer registers 101, even after I've been out in the rain and cold, this morning!
Fishin' fever! That's what I've got!

Beautifully colored native

I've caught more fish in the last two days than I have all season. I went three for five this morning, and caught a nice big 14 poundish buck, yesterday.
I'm sick, though, and really shouldn't be out. Or should I? Is it really true that if you are sick, you shouldn't go out? Why wait? I just bundle up, take my time, and go very, very slowly. I'm exhausted by the time that I get back, and when I do, I simply go to bed.
Reminds me of once when I was newly married. I lived on the salmon river in Otis, and I was fishing way too much. My husband was new to living with someone with this habit. As he left for work, he cautioned me, as I lay on the couch. "Promise me you won't go fishing, today. Just rest, OK?"
"Yes, sir."
As soon as he left, I hurried and got my waders on and was the traditional disobedient wife.
I went fishing.
When he got home, I was laying on the couch. He was so happy with me. I had gotten up to make a wonderful soup, and the delicious aroma filled our happy home.
Everything was just fine until he opened the fridge.
"Where did this come from?" A huge steelhead lay curled up on the bottom shelf, minimally cleaned, and bent in two.
"I love you, honey... I'm going to take a bath."
Not another word was spoken, and I don't think he ever found out I went fishing. He's probably figured it out by now, though!
Anyhow, I'm going back to bed. The soup's on. The only difference is that I have no fish in the fridge, but Bill wouldn't think twice if there were.
Oh! If you want to see larger pics of the fish, click here!

March 5th

Please honor Stan for his new election!

And as for the Salty Dogs, I can barely believe my eyes!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Ifish thanks you! I thank you!
The members thank you!
I just opened a letter with money in it from the convention!
When I showed Bill, he said, "What the....." We were both in shock!!!!
You have no idea how stressed I've been, lately, trying to manage making ifish run better, faster, and without errors. I've been toying with ideas of how I can have more sponsors to pay for it without cluttering it with ads, etc., and I'm dealing with a body that can't work as well as it once did.
I got my taxes back, and that wasn't good! Even with the sponsors I have, ifish is hard for me to pay for. I am making "cents" per hour, rather than dollars, running ifish.
I do like to call it my job, and ifish is my business, since I can't make a living playing the piano anymore.
However, each year ifish grows and grows. The dogs really gets busy in the summer time, and that has also put a rise in the hosting costs.
You might have seen MySQL errors on ifish, from time to time. It happens when too many people do too many things on ifish and look like this:

Warning: Too many connections in /home/ifish/ on line 36 Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Too many connections in /home/ifish/ on line 36 Warning: Failed opening '/home/ifish/'

That is because our server is maxed out. I just added that brand new server and more RAM year before last, as we did the same thing: Grew to capacity! I thought that would handle things for a long time. NOT!
So, again this year, we are expanding. Ifish member Reelfine surprised the heck out of me when he wrote, stating that he works for, and that they would like to donate some of their older servers to ifish! WOW! I was thrilled! People around here just plain Rock!
We got those, and it's great, but... then I found out the rack space and the additional bandwidth, and the money to help configure, install and set up are going to be... well.... they are going to cost ifish money. Quite a bit more than I planned on.
So, I've been stressed out.
Imagine my pleasure as I opened an envelope from the Salty Dogs... (apparentgenius to be exact, and inside, a very generous contribution!!!!!!!)
I don't know who all to thank... that put on the convention, but I know apparentgenius did alot, and Salty Walty and... who else? I guess it doesn't matter, it's all of the Salties who helped make it happen, and helped to make it possible to donate so much to the welfare of ifish!
Thank you to all of the donating sponsors!
This check in the mail made tears of relief come out of my eyes! I kid you not!!!
When I was at the convention dinner, Glen told me what to expect, but... somehow it didn't register, then.
It does now!
Ladies and Gents, you are one fine class of dogs!!! I tell you!
You win the Salty Dogscers of the year, that's for sure!
Anyhow, do know how very much it is appreciated and needed and do know that you have taken a whole load of stress off of me, this week.
I got the contract for the new service agreement (including the install) and I can pay it! Without my VISA!!!!
Do you even KNOW what that means to me?
You are an answer to my prayers.
I salute you, with my most humble gratitude!
Once upon a time, a girlfriend and I put together little bags of cookies we had made, and put dollar bills in them. We went downtown and handed them out to poor people during Christmas. You know, the people who sit inside doorways of downtown buildings and push shopping carts around? We even went to a burger place and added burgers to the bags!
One guy stopped in the middle of the street, and fell to his knees and said, "There are angels! Those girls are angels!" I knew he was drunk, but at the same time, I'll never forget it! Also, I know how it feels!The Salty Dogs are angels, you know!
Fly your Salty Dog flag with pride, and be safe out there!
You really do "Leave no dog behind". You really do!
Visit the Salty Dogs, here!

March 6th

How is this for freaky? Look at this picture I took and see if you can see the face in the water!
Here is the blown up version!
(and sorry if I'm grouchy, Dave!)

Just a little venting for a Monday Morning....
I've always considered myself lucky!
That's why I just deleted my entire rant on my ex husband that took me two hours of emotion wrought writing, and left the very last part, which was the conclusion that I came to, after writing and reading it. Sometimes it's good enough just to write it, isn't it? It felt goodto get that out. After 15 years, there is still hurt. Divorce never ends. But, here is the conclusion:

You know, in time, the boys will be gone.
Every morning I will be able to stay in my pajamas all day , if I want. The television will be mine, all mine. The house will be quiet.
There will be no sounds of the boys laughing together, in their rooms. They have always been odd that way. No fighting. None of what you'd expect between sibs. No uglies. Just laughing, talking, and 'best friend' kind of stuff. It's odd, but I don't complain!
I won't hear Andrew's footsteps as he comes up to tell me goodnight, or offer a cup of hot chocolate, or just want to talk about the latest music, or how his favorite band is coming to town.
Sometimes I'm tired and want to go to sleep. But, I don't complain.
David won't come to me in the morning and tell me that he's sorry he forgot, but there is a band concert, tonight. He won't ask for rides at O' dark thirty to a speech tournament bus. I listen, frustrated, but I don't complain.
I won't smell wonderful smells and hear them laughing in the kitchen, as Andrew drums up the latest vegetarian recipe. For those calories, I certainly don't complain!
The boys will move out, someday, and I will be alone, just like the days alone that I crave, now. -But it will be permanent, then. That's scary!
The money I receive seems to adequately cover most of what we need. I have been able to afford love, laughter, memories, and good times on a very modest income.
We've made it just fine. I sometimes ponder raising the child support for cost of living. I think about telling him about the hurt, the lack of thoughtfullness, and the unfairness of it all... but it always comes back to something that one of my moderators, 'Crabbait' reminded me of one day, in dealing with some of the troublesome members who act badly on the ifish forums.
He said:
"I agree that we need to know who our friends are and who our enemies are. I also think we should always strive to treat our enemies much better than they treat us, or than they deserve to be treated. It makes me feel good and baffles the heck out of them."

Andrew is in the kitchen this morning, cooking up good things to eat. David just kissed my cheek, as he rushed off, late for school.
I'm just flat out, not gonna complain.

March 6th

How is this for freaky? Look at this picture I took and see if you can see the face in the water!
Here is the blown up version!
(and sorry if I'm grouchy, Dave!)

Just a little venting for a Monday Morning....
I've always considered myself lucky!
That's why I just deleted my entire rant on my ex husband that took me two hours of emotion wrought writing, and left the very last part, which was the conclusion that I came to, after writing and reading it. Sometimes it's good enough just to write it, isn't it? It felt goodto get that out. After 15 years, there is still hurt. Divorce never ends. But, here is the conclusion:

You know, in time, the boys will be gone.
Every morning I will be able to stay in my pajamas all day , if I want. The television will be mine, all mine. The house will be quiet.
There will be no sounds of the boys laughing together, in their rooms. They have always been odd that way. No fighting. None of what you'd expect between sibs. No uglies. Just laughing, talking, and 'best friend' kind of stuff. It's odd, but I don't complain!
I won't hear Andrew's footsteps as he comes up to tell me goodnight, or offer a cup of hot chocolate, or just want to talk about the latest music, or how his favorite band is coming to town.
Sometimes I'm tired and want to go to sleep. But, I don't complain.
David won't come to me in the morning and tell me that he's sorry he forgot, but there is a band concert, tonight. He won't ask for rides at O' dark thirty to a speech tournament bus. I listen, frustrated, but I don't complain.
I won't smell wonderful smells and hear them laughing in the kitchen, as Andrew drums up the latest vegetarian recipe. For those calories, I certainly don't complain!
The boys will move out, someday, and I will be alone, just like the days alone that I crave, now. -But it will be permanent, then. That's scary!
The money I receive seems to adequately cover most of what we need. I have been able to afford love, laughter, memories, and good times on a very modest income.
We've made it just fine. I sometimes ponder raising the child support for cost of living. I think about telling him about the hurt, the lack of thoughtfullness, and the unfairness of it all... but it always comes back to something that one of my moderators, 'Crabbait' reminded me of one day, in dealing with some of the troublesome members who act badly on the ifish forums.
He said:
"I agree that we need to know who our friends are and who our enemies are. I also think we should always strive to treat our enemies much better than they treat us, or than they deserve to be treated. It makes me feel good and baffles the heck out of them."

Andrew is in the kitchen this morning, cooking up good things to eat. David just kissed my cheek, as he rushed off, late for school.
I'm just flat out, not gonna complain.


March 8th

With a glance of the board this morning, I noticed a topic, "Mid winter fishing blues."
Uh huh.
I've had those! It wasn't long ago, I think.
But, now... I can't recall it.
Yesterday, a shiver ran down my back as a brisk March wind blasted me full in the face. The sun made me squint as I exited the garage door. Rod in hand, shrimp in pocket, (no, I don't learn) my dog, Kilchis and I headed to the river.
"Good morninnnnn' steelies!"
I was too lazy to try and fit my boots on. They are tight and it takes quite an effort. Instead, I slipped easily into Bill's boots and was on my way. My feet sloshed around, awkwardly on the rocks. Despite the wobbles and slips, I was nearly to the first hole. A dipper teased Kilchis, across the river. I swear they have a game going. I just know they do!
I reached into my pocket and neatly took the lid off of the shrimp. Cautiously grabbing one of the lively critters with my thumb, I broke it in two.
I could do this blindfolded! I slid the tail of a shrimp over my standard pink and white First Bite Jig, checked the water level, (oh...perfect!) and adjusted the bobber stop to a little over four feet.
Before I even cast out, I could feel it! Fish on! I kid you not! Everything was just incredibly right! It smelled like fish, for crying out loud! The fight was playing in my mind, even before I left the house!
If you've ever experienced my favorite quote, "Expect a fish with every cast" by Stan Fagerstrom, you'd know, by golly, just what I mean.
Like a movie I've watched a thousand times, my lure went flying through the air, landed perfectly 5 feet before the 'go to' spot, righted itself in the water, caught the current, and began it's journey through what was sure to be a very short, but eventful float.
I've done this a thousand times before. Both in my mind, in my dreams, and in reality. And on this day, it was to happen, once again.
My bobber, perfectly 5 feet into the drift, lost contact with my eyes in a heart stopping second. I barely had any slack out. I lowered my rod tip, quickly reeled in until I could see that my line was taught, and swiftly raised my rod.
I screamed to no one on earth, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a premeditated hookset motivated by confidence!"
I caught this fish with deliberate purpose, with previous consideration, and with some degree of planning!
But, "Oh, contraire!" I laughed! It was also accidental, casual, and spontaneous! Isn't it always?
The fish was hooked in the roof of it's mouth. That always has me in hysterics on the river bank. That fish must have jumped four feet out of the water in a burst of chrome, flashing fireworks!
For some reason, it also wanted to come into shore, but not the shore that I was standing on! No way! Kilchis was dancing, dangerously near the fish, almost tangling the line, in excitement!
I finally lowered my rod to the left, dodging fresh tracks of elk, and directed the splashing and sparkling water drops towards me. I reached up, and without so much as touching it's beautiful flesh, I reached out with my pliers and unhooked him.
He was gone, just as fast as that. The water in the air dropped casually back into the rhythm of the flow. Just like that, he slipped through the water, and was only a memory.
The river changed in an instant.
Suddenly, all around me was quiet.
"The river hush".
My dog sat next to me, totally still. I looked at him. He looked at me. "What?" said the expression on his face. I glanced around me, 360. Where was it? Where was that feeling? Where was the fish? Did it happen? I had visions of trees falling, and no one around to hear it.
The excitement evaporated into thin air.
Ho well... I reached in my pocket and lifted the lid off of the shrimp, by braille. In the other pocket, was shrimp scent that I had purchased at Maries.
I fished this hole for a few more casts knowing full well that the magic had vanished.
My boots carried me clumsily upriver. I slipped, slid, and twisted my ankle, but soon smooth sand greeted me and made my journey to to the next hole more pleasant.
I chanted in a hushed voice, "Magic, magic, searching for the magic..."
This cast is more difficult and it's a 'make it or break it' off kind of game. My Dad always said that if you don't lose gear, you aren't fishing. Well, I was fishing! I usually reserve this hole for last, but my legs were too tired to make it anywhere else.
I cast out, and sure enough, first cast, I lost the jig. It's still now, decorating that beautiful maple tree. You can have it, if you like! That is, unless I get it first-- with my next trip in a boat!
Shoot. I hadn't brought any leader, and it had broken pretty darn short. Still, I decided to try. I tied on a brand new red and white jig. I opened my shrimp, I applied the scent. I gave up on that hole, and traveled a bit further upstream.
First cast! Fish on! The fish came straight out of the water like a bullet, and the river broke into a million crystal drops of spray! I LOVE that! It was back! The magic returned!
I giggled as he, in all of the earth's beautiful full color and costume, came more easily to my side, for a quick release.
I've learned that I like to not touch the fish. I tried once, to take a picture while fishing alone. It frustrated me, and took some of the fun out of the moment. Like most things, I see a challenge and I take it. But often, it's not worth the trouble.
I make it a game now not to touch the fish at all. I like it that way, and I think the fish likes me a little better, too!
My day wasn't finished until I caught one more in yet a different hole. At about that time, it hit me. I was fully exhausted. It's easy not to recognize these things, until it's too late.
I sat by the river for a while, and rested. Rain drizzled off my hat, and down my back. The quiet re entered the area and surrounded me. The rain fell as it worked to try to wash the events of the day away.
Oh... Not a chance!
The water flow was a perfect height and current, just made for steelhead. Everything around me-- the air, the mood, the setting, the memories, the exhaustion! It all just shouted "steelhead!".
"Mid winter fishing blues." ???
What, for gosh sakes are those?
"Magic, magic... I have found the magic."

March 11th

The shadows reflect a different light inside the house when there is snow on the ground. I kind of like it! It's blue, though... a tint of blue, anyhow. Somehow, it's been matching my mood.
Why am I blue? It snowed! I should be joyful! It's incredible! It's a miracle, and yet I'm sad? Why? Life is so unpredictable!
However, a real smile spread over my face when I received a call yesterday from Andrew. He said, "Mom! It's snowing here! Is it snowing there?!" He was so excited. I've waited for a long time for a call like that. Not because of the snow, but because I used to call my Mother whenever it snowed. It's nice to hear that call, again--if only with generational difference. Tradition carries on.
I've had a difficult couple of fishing days. I've had trouble getting tackle. It seems every place is closed, every time I try to find what I need. My waders both leak. Both my hip boots and my dry waders. It's time to re equip. I never thought that would happen, but it has. I always felt so organized, but lately? My life seems topsy turvy and out of control.... and my socks have seemed really wet!
Ifish is consuming a bit too much of my life. If I could, I would have to stay seated at the computer, 25/7 (Uh huh!) to keep up with it. No eating, no sleeping, just stay and try to keep up! I couldn't do it, even at that. It's grown to be a monster and it's going to eat me all up!
My bobber rod is finally ready to fish. I used a different weight system since I couldn't get the ones I like. I think I'll go cast a couple times. The snow on the meadow is brightly lit up by sunshine.
That crisp blue sky, that one that reminds me of being in a wheelchair feeling helpless after my surgery.... that blue sky is haunting me, right now.
I need to replace those memories with a beautiful chrome steelhead on the bank.
The tint of blue in the house needs to connect with something happy, and I know that it is my job, my responsibility to create it!
Oh! And I did get to use my new sled! That was really fun!

March 13th

Teens say mean things. They just do! Thank you, God-- that Andrew is past that stage for the most part. However, my dear sweet David is starting in a bit. Lord, help me, I was just recovering from the last round!
David is mostly sweet, and I know that deep down there is the same wonderful David that I know, but the teen uglies have hit him and it will be a while before this cocoon breaks fully open again. He's thoughtful, still, but not usually of me. I'm just his Mom. It's all about David, right now. Hey! I can relate! I've been there! I was a teen, and if memory serves me well, I was equally mean to my Mom!
I know that I just have to wait it out. Oh... it's torture. It's hurtful. It's sad. It's ugly, ugly, ugly! I know that there will come an end to it, and by golly, I'm going to make it there!
His last comment to me, when I was attempting to explain and appreciate all that he had, and all that I had done for him, was, "Oh yeah, Mom. Just what do you do for me? Troll forums on ifish?"
Sigh. Yeah, I troll forums.
So, it's been a joke, since then. Every time he grabs for a box of cereal at breakfast, I remind him, "Thanks be to Mom trolling forums, we have this awesome cereal." His stylish new clothes, fresh from the dryer are folded neatly and handed to him, compliments of the 'forum troller'. When he comes in, cold from the snow, I say, "Ah! Heat! Heat! Plenty of electricity from the forum troller!"
Oh, sure. I've told him that the comment hurt. I also told him that I am ill, and that life is short, and I didn't want to spend the time I have, arguing 'uglies' with him.
He rolled his eyes. There it was again. Sullen, unappreciative. He doesn't get it. How could he? At that age I was totally invincible. Death was as far from my mind as it could be!
Let's not spend our short time on earth fighting! Please!!!
I find, however, that even as folks grow older and mature, they still don't believe, really... fully... that death will happen! It's a cosmic thing, way, way out there, and folks just continue to fight, hurl insults at each other, and treat one another poorly.
I do lose patience, "trolling forums."
I grew up knowing I had Marfan Syndrome. A well meaning, but uninformed doctor once told me that I would not make it past 35. Wouldn't you think that would sink in? It did, but I joked about it! Talked about it in very casual tones. Planned, accordingly, but lightly.
It wasn't until my dissection, 14 months ago, that I've had to really deal with the concept of death. Let me tell you, it's not something you can teach anyone about, nor anything that anyone can relate to. You have to go through it, and even then, it's a very personal journey that cannot be shared, or explained.
I have had to come to terms with the fact that my prognosis is not real good. You think that's hard to come to terms with? What's even more difficult, is to get others to believe it, or even understand it. Especially those that love you most.
I have been through several counseling sessions regarding it, and I do believe that I have done well digesting it. It took a lot of time, many tears, but now? I can take it! But I can't share it. I've tried. It's mine to keep, to hold close.
If I try (and Lord knows I have!) people think I'm after sympathy, or, the people closest to me think I am exaggerating it. One thing is for certain. They don't want to hear it!
Personally, it's a relief to me, to reach this plateau. It's a good feeling. It's peaceful!
But if I mention it in passing, in a casual tone, I still hear those closest to me say, "Be positive!" or, "Jennie, you could live to be 90!"
No matter the well meaning, it's frustrating. I don't want to hope for that, nor would I want to live to 90! It hurts to have Marfan Syndrome in the first place! Most of the time, (rumor has it!) old age hurts, too.
Let me tell you, I do believe in divine planning, and I do not believe that any divine planner would have someone already in pain, extend their lifetime to add the pain of old age on top of it! Ouch! No God of mine would double those two up and dole it out on me! My God has mercy!
David and I sat in his bedroom as things calmed. I tried to explain the whole thing. I wanted him to know why it was important he understood that I was upset by his insults, or at least heard me out, and maybe could apply it later.
First, I explained what I really do on I honestly don't think he understood what goes into it, what makes it tick, and what his Mom does. I'll write later in the week, how I explained that to him. That's the fun part!
This part isn't.
David is very intelligent and is a very good listener. I didn't realize that he hadn't a clue what happened to me, and what an aortic dissection entails. I explained it to him the very best that I knew how. I believe that to this day, my Dad still doesn't understand, nor does he have any wish to. I believe that he just wants to think that I'm going to be fine... and I'm going to leave it that way!
I explained to David, though, that a healthy aorta is like a hose, with many layers inside, strongly held together to handle the intense flow of blood. It's like particle board! But in Marfan Syndrome, my layers were not strongly held together, and had become 'unglued'. I told him that the blood flow then went through the individual layers, instead of through the hose, like it should be. The pressure built up and burst through, because the layers themselves were not strong enough.
This separation of layers began in my carotid artery where it split, and traveled all the way down, past my heart, and to my iliac arteries near my legs. This happened while I traveled in the ambulance from Tillamook to Portland. The doctors in Portland were only able to repair the ascending aorta, where they inserted a St. Judes Valve, and reinforced my ascending aorta.
My descending aorta is still separated into layers, all the way down to my iliac. It is very fragile, and can burst very easily, as it did, above. If it does, well... it isn't possible to repair.
Upon release from the hospital, they didn't realize that the layers of my aorta had collapsed, and were acting as a wind sock in my abdomen. My blood was traveling from my heart to my waist, and back up again! Very little blood flow was getting through to my legs. That's why my feet were numb and I couldn't walk. They put in stents to help that. As it is now, I have pain and trouble with my legs and feet, but I can walk!
These days I have Cat Scans every six months to check if the layers look weaker anywhere. If they do, then I will have another 12 hour open heart surgery, to try to repair it. That could save me!
"Oh! But I'm not looking forward to that!" I laughed with David.
I do alright with the concept of my own mortality, like I said, and I did alright telling David this information.
I'll tell you one, thing, though, that still tears me up, and it tore me to pieces, telling David.
No one loves you like your own Mother.
The one person that I really wanted to comfort me when I was very ill and scared in the hospital was my Mother. I wanted it so badly, that I have one vivid memory of when my heart stopped, during surgery.
I saw her, there. I'm not much for the cosmic side of things, but I know for a fact, that my Mother was there, with me in spirit. I saw her.
There was a time during surgery that part of a valve sheered off in the dissection. This is when they took a vein out of my leg to repair it. I guess it was a scary time and they almost lost me. Boy, did they ever do a messy job on my leg! The doctor apologized, but said it wasn't a beauty option, and was in a bit of a hurry. I tend to think that is when my Mom was there.
My son Andrew has Marfan Syndrome, too. Andrew may someday have a dissection in his aorta. I want him to have it repaired before it happens. That could save his life!!! But he is a teenager. He is reluctant and invincible.
I am not so afraid of my own death, but I do have one incredible, insurmountable fear that haunts me. I totally lost it, as I told David.
"David", I continued.
"I am so scared I won't be there for Andrew if this happens to him. Please. If Andrew has a dissection, I want you to hold his hand."
There I sat on his unmade bed, roles reversed, just sobbing! I was as a small child. My shoulders shook uncontrollably. I was shaken, fragile, and sobbing. Pop cans were sideways on the TV and clothes were strewn unfolded on the floor. I sat uncomplaining, legs dangling, nervously kicking a dirty towel.
There was silence in the room, as I got up to leave. I reached the hall and I heard a quiet voice.
I turned and through teary eyes saw David coming towards me. He held out his arms and he took me in. My little boy had broad man shoulders! As he held me, I felt so small against him. I wanted so badly to stay there and be comforted by son. My own son. Just a small piece of little boy left, but nearly a grown man.
Instead, I stayed for only a moment, before I pulled back, and in my best "internet troll" impersonation, said, "Could you please finish cleaning your room?"

March 15th

Steelhead are so frustrating. I swear, just as you think you know what to use for what kind of water and conditions, the rules change.
No Bites. With resignation, I headed back over the slippery rocks. My legs were starting to collapse. Still, I thought to myself, this is the furthest, and the longest period of time that I've fished, since my heart surgery. Good on me!
I laughed to myself "Made it" is different to me than for some others. I was plum exhausted, and my legs, bowlegged and unsure, barely carried me over the uneven terrain.
My hands were cold. My frozen fingers loosely wrapped around my rod in one hand. The line bowed in the wind before me as I studied a First Bite Jig, attached to the line, and in my other hand. Sometimes I'm just too lazy to attach it to a guide, but it makes for good inspection time. Is my hook sharp? Is my jig in good condition?
I had been using a shrimp tail on my jig, and the water was really low. The way I attach them works really well for me. They stay on a bunch longer. I fold them in half, run it over the point of the hook, then reverse the shrimp, and catch the other side with the tip of the hook. Perfect! It stays put!
But the shrimp tail method hadn't worked in any of the places that I had confidence this morning, so I got desperate, as sometimes we do. I thought perhaps a whole darn shrimp would do the trick. I was determined! But, no! More was not better! I had worked my way almost all the way back again, globbing on way too much shrimp trying to buy a bite!
Earlier I had been so confident! So sure! Singing, chanting, "A fish with every casssst!
A fish with every casssst!"

Mockingly, arrogantly, I cast my jig to the wind. I had worked every pocket from what we call the bedroom hole, to the upper stretches, as far as I could see.
The forecast looked gloomy as I headed back down river. Then it hit me! Aren't we desperate? I thought, "Less is best!", and the chanting resumed,
"Low water less!"
"Low water less!"
"When the water's not big, don't put lots on your jig!"
I stopped, held close my jig and studied. I noticed that just the tip of a shrimp tail dangled off of my hook. I took a practice cast. It held!
This is the trick!
This is the thing that the steelhead will pick!
It's rare that I'll give up until I'm forced to. It's true.
So, standing well above a chute of water three feet deep, I called my dog to my side, so he wouldn't spook anything that held there, or further down. I cast. It drifted through. Nada. I pulled it back. Shrimp bite still in place, I walked forward two steps. Repeat.
Mid river on the Kilchis, past the chute, runs a swift rolling riffle, five feet across, with silent shallows on either side. I've never caught a fish there, but what the heck? I thought I'd troll home. The fish were obviously absent, or holding in different spots.
As I walked along, I let the bobber flow free in front of me. The water flow was exactly the speed of my slow and burdened walking pace.
I was lost in thought, nearly giving up on fish. I was almost home. I was concentrating deeply on figuring out where the steelhead had been. I was thinking of why the darned heck I had failed, today. What could I have done differently? ...and hey! At least I was still on two legs!
I was strolling along, watching my bobber go up a roller, and come down, go up! and down... I was mesmerized, lost in thought. Up and down.
On or near the fourth or fifth wave, my bobber started down over the hilly current, and...and... and... it kept going down!
Oh, a thousand miracle of all miracles!
I was trying to take in this information and it wouldn't process! My mind was stopped up like a beaver dam! Bobber up! Bobber down, Jennie! Fish on! Jennie, there is a fish on your bobber! JENNIE!
Ever had trouble getting through to your brain? I had a fish on, for Pete's sake! Do something!
I furiously reeled in the slack that almost gathered at my feet. Fearing a loop in my line, I held the other hand on the rod, guiding the misplaced mono onto the spool, until finally I felt contact with something wild and moving! I came back on it hard, giving it a surprised thwomp, I'm sure!
"Wake up, Mr. Steelheaddddddddd! You are busted! I got you now!" I threw back my head and laughed out loud. (How cruel can a woman be?)
It sassed back! No kidding! It zipped across the water, taking spool off of my Calcutta like there was no tomorrow! I had just filled this reel with fresh line, and it was ready to play!
"Oh no!" I remembered. I am much too tired for this! My heart beat much faster, much harder than it should! I scanned the river for boaters. Someone! "Someone is going to have to help me, here!" I screamed out loud! "This is no tiny trout!"
With no one within earshot but an eagle soaring overhead, I had to think twice. Yes, I wanted to play with this fish, but no, I didn't want to die! My heartbeat increased as the steelhead nearly pulled me into the water! Whatever to do? Quickly, I switched hands in which the pressure was exerted. You know what? I'm no good at playing a fish left handed!
This fish wasn't even big! It would have gone maybe 9 pounds! But somehow, and I believe this with all of my heart, there is no better fighting fish than a Kilchis wild steelhead! I glanced at the sandy beach behind me. I considered sitting down, but that was just too weird.
This fish took line off my reel again and again! I'd work it in, clumsily, reeling with the wrong hand, and it would take it right back out again! I switched back to my experienced hand and did it again. Out the line went, yet again! I don't know how many times we played tug-o-war, but by the time the fish was finally at hand, I know that between that hen and I, I was by far, the most tired of the two girls! I know that because even as I reached down to gently pull the hook out of her mouth with my pliers, she still jumped! Right at my feet! No way could I have jumped! No way!
I spoke to her, in a soothing, calm voice. "Please Mrs. Fish... Mrs. pretty fish with the sea lice on your sides, let me help you. I want to let you go."
That beautiful fish finally let me have a quick stab at the wound. The hook was removed without so much as a touch from my pliers. Like a torpedo, jetting her way back to the current that rolls up and down, up and down... she gave one last, parting jump before she faded into the quiet and tedious motion of the Kilchis river.
And that, my friends, is stuck solid in my memory.
It's well past time for a rest, for me, and please remember, less is best in low water. That is, until next time, when the fish change the rules again.

March 17th

Sometimes I linger in bed for a bit, lately.
I used to get up so fast. It's always amazed folks. I go from a dead sleep to wide awake!
Whoosh! I'd start my day. The dogs dance around my feet, knowing full well that after they do their outside duties, they'll be rewarded with a treat. The coffee waits, already made. Thank God for small pleasures! New things like auto set coffee!
Warm, cozy slippers and a soft robe draping from my shoulders. It softens the harsh transition that comes with being horizontal. It feels much like I'm taking a little piece of bed and the soft down comforter with me!
But on some days I'm almost afraid to rise. My mind is jammed with ifish. You would not believe the drama!
In the evening, Bill sometimes asks me, "So what's the drama of the day?"
"Which one?" I laugh.
No kidding! Sometimes I read through the topics on the mod board and by mid morning, I shake my head in disbelief. No way could we have covered that many topics in so little time! How on earth could anyone keep their head on straight?
My moderators are saints. I've asked them repeatedly, "Why do you do it?"
Ifish is my baby. No, I don't get paid much. Not even minimum wage. (Far from it, in fact!) But, it's mine. Why on earth would someone expose themselves to this kind of abuse for someone else's baby?
Of course, I laugh. It's not all bad. But there are times when they are mistreated. There are times when they upset other members while trying to uphold the rules of ifish.
I run a tidy ship. I can't even say that, really, because on a ship, sailors talk... well, sailors talk the way sailors talk!
The good ship "ifish" is in port. It stays in port, and it is visitors day! We don't talk on ifish, like sailors talk at sea. Now, that is a difficult thing to ask of these salty fishermen and women! It totally goes against the current!
OK, and get this. We have built a community, four times the size of Tillamook. We have no police force, and no government.
Ever heard of the video game Sim City? Building ifish, or any online community is somewhat like that. I have found that you should think ahead, and make rules in the beginning that shall be followed as the community grows.
Oops! I didn't know that at first! Totally unsuspecting that ifish would grow like it has, we have made the rules, as we go along. I've had to post a disclaimer on the Acceptable Use Policy:
We reserve the right to change these membership rules at any time. Therefore, you should review them periodically to make certain that you continue to agree with them.
Remember that! Each and every one of you! I just have to laugh more, as I read that. It's the way it is! I come across a problem, and think, "Oh, shoot! Another rule needs to be added!" Thanks be to the community for helping me to write the rules, and by golly, keep writing them!
The AUP, as it is called for short, is growing. I have tried so hard to 'write tight', but that's a tough cookie! I refer back to these rules, and we quote them while swabbing the decks.
So each morning, as of late, I linger... hesitating, before I walk down the gangplank to the day's duties. I hope to the heaven's that all the crew will be aboard, and all of the passengers, happy. I hope for calm seas, and a smooth sail.
But, just as the forecast changes, the seas can rise and fall with tremendous force and without notice. Sometimes I sleep fitfully in my bunk, with the seas still rolling beneath me.
In the midst of these storms, I click links cautiously, and hope to God I don't hear the words, "Abandoned Ship!" or "May Day! May Day!"
But, just like people are drawn to the ocean and addicted to fishing, they are drawn back to what once was a little community, called
And just like the storms come, the red sky at night promises a sailor's delight.

As long as it is in my hands ifish will be a tightly run ship with shining, swabbed decks. The crew will wear neatly pressed uniforms and will be there to greet new passengers, warmly.
And even though I rise a bit more slowly, I rise, nonetheless. It's the energy of the crew, the excitement of a new fisher with a beautiful catch, a group of members that have gathered together to help a bill pass, or a warm note of encouragement that keeps me boarding the ship, day after day.

March 21st

Just thought I'd check in, as I've been sick for a couple days. Actually, haven't felt good since the Sportsman Show, but now I've got some darn fever. I had a meeting yesterday and then spent the afternoon at the doctor's where they took a bunch of blood tests and other things.
The good news is that I hadn't been to that doc' in three months! WOW! Now, there's a record! However, I've kind of gotten to the point where I was really sick of going to the doc', no matter what. You know, there comes a time when you just decide you aren't going to cure anything and you settle in, feeling however you feel! I'd just rather fish and try to forget all else!
And, fish, I have. Two days, ago, though, I just didn't feel good. Despite it all, I bundled up and headed to the river. After three casts, I said to myself, "Self, I really don't feel good!" So, self went back to the house, upstairs, and that's where I've been, (in bed) since. I got up yesterday to visit the doc'. Came home, upstairs I went, pulled the covers high, and didn't come to until 6 this morning.
I have a meeting I don't want to miss at noon, today. As soon as I make it past that, I'm heading back to the covers!
So, I've no fishing news, and thus, no reports. No fantastic pictures, no shrieks of delight. After I clean up the house a bit, I may head out there before the meeting, just to pass the time. Hey! After all, I have to stay up till after noon! What better to do? I must be feeling a bit better, huh?

March 22nd

Of course, and as usual, I was fishing alone.
I was trying to break through a 'funk'. Somehow, with whatever virus I'm carrying around, the symptoms include a 'funk', and although the fever had broken, the funk remained.
I dragged out to the river bank. The chill of the evening seeped through my clothes and onto my skin.
It was my third cast that my bobber went way down, fast, steady, almost like a snag. I couldn't budge it off the bottom of the river, but I knew it was alive.
Barely, but life it was, no doubt.
I screamed to the boys. For the first time in forever, this was the one time that their windows were both shut tight. Do you know how many times I complain to them to shut their windows in the winter to keep in the heat? Do you know??? They had obeyed and I was ticked!
This fish was burrowed so deep that I couldn't budge him off the bottom. I felt an odd quiver, which I thought to be the line, vibrating in the current.
"It's too late for salmon", I thought to myself. "Isn't it?"
What was this? Furthermore, what was I going to do with it? I had just come out to calm myself. I hadn't even taken my meds, that were due at 5. It was nearing 6. I panicked. My heart was racing. I screamed again.
And I meant it, most sincerely.
Kilchis wagged his tail, excitedly.
If this was anything, any sort of fish the size that I thought it was, I was going to need help. I should just break it off. I quickly checked for pliers with wire cutters. Yep, I had them, but I couldn't! I just couldn't!
Who in the world, who in their right mind, could break off a huge steelhead, that may very well be a life time catch? EVEN if it risked my life?
"Not me", I firmly answered myself aloud. "Not me!" I yelled louder.
My heart raced faster, and for no reason. Just increasing terror, increasing pandemonium, on hold. The fish, the life, the breathing, quivering mass at the bottom of the river, held fast and heavy. I let up on the tension and took a calming breath. It reminded me of going through childbirth. Breath in.... breath out..... hold!
Finally I felt motion, but it was different. It wasn't like the acrobatics of a normal steelie. It was a slow, casual, watery drag from one rock in the depths, to another. Did this fish even know he was hooked? I felt ignored by this fish. I felt like he wasn't giving me near enough attention. So I jerked a bit, to set the hook, firmly.
Fear raced through my every pore. I broke out in a cold sweat.
Two facts held in my mind.
One, that no one would ever know what I was about to do, and second, that my dissection might burst. I wonder if that fear will ever, ever ease in my mind?
It was the weirdest feeling, too... cuz on top of everything, I was still depressed. Still in a funk over troubles at ifish, and over the fact that I was about to pull in a huge monster steelhead, and no one would ever believe me! Again! Last time I caught a 20 plus, I did it alone, and all I can do is tell about it.
I wished for my camera, but what good would that do? As if I could manage a picture, all by myself!
I knew God was giggling. Why would he provide this opportunity, only when I'm alone?
Yes, I had prayed for a fish on my way out to the river. In my prayers, I told him it a fish would cheer me, and yes, I believe that God has a wonderful sense of humor!
A touch of frustration brushed over me. This wasn't funny! But just then, the fish took off.
OK. Here we go! It was the same feeling as being on a roller coaster, and feeling the car click, click, click, up the tracks.
Ready or not, dissection or not, truth or not, big fish or not, I was in for the ride of my life.
It held steady as it moved along the bottom of the river. I walked with it a ways on the sandy beach, following, heart thumping. My 1143 bent, my line was as taught as a cable strung from a heavy equipment crane.
It shook it's head slowly back and forth like a chinook. It was stubborn and mean, but I was, too. I was as tense as the operator of a crane, hoping with all hope, that my cable wouldn't break.
The fish probably didn't even know I was attached to the other end. The fish, not even panicked yet, just moved me along the river, slowly and deliberately, and then... it stopped again.
I thought maybe it was fouled up in branches.
I knew that I shouldn't be doing this. Especially alone. I had bought some walkie talkies just for this moment. Why didn't I have one?
Thoughts raced through my head. If only I could get one of the boys attention. I knew Andrew would have his music up loud, or be playing his bass guitar. David, TV on, or video games and he, intensely involved.
With the tension of my line still tight, I walked ALL the way to the top of the trail. My line let out, as I stretched it up the hill, nearly falling. I screamed again, closer to their rooms. I screamed at all of them, one by one. "HELLLLP!" Like I was dying. Hey! I might if I didn't have ... "Help me!" I whimpered, softly.
Just silence! The fish must have heard me, thought, because just then, it came to life, but never like any ordinary steelhead!
This one was a brute, a bully, a big guy. I felt like I was dragging a football player around. Slow, forceful, in meaningful, swift strides.
It ran, steady and strong, all the way to the riffles, a city block downstream! I couldn't fight it. I figured I was about to go for a long walk. I stumbled back down the trail, giving up on any sort of miserable help. I tripped to my right, over tree root balls, and kept going. This fish was NOT going to stop, and I couldn't make it all the way down to where it was headed. I had no hip boots! No waders! Was I about to swim? Maybe! I tried that ole, "give him a belly of line, maybe he'll turn" thing. It worked! He turned!
The ball was in my court, again but there was still time on the clock to lose.
The fight went on for what seemed like a long time, with a million thoughts in my head. I don't know how many times I screamed for help, but that was tiring me out as much as the fish, so I gave up.
I took breaks. One hand, then the other. The crook of one arm, then the other. I squatted and rested the rod on my arm, and pulled back, pumping the rod like a lever.
It headed for shore. I knew it would spook when it sucked sand. I grabbed the line with my hand and it cut, cleanly through my fingers. Blood poured.
The whole time I'm thinking whether I should just cut the dang line. I couldn't. I needed to see it. I had to. I'd come this far. I could do this! I could! I took a cleansing breath.
Fighting that solid will for success was that ole', "Who cares, anyhow?" No one will believe me. No one. I was the only one to see it... again!
Finally, tired, it neared me, and despite my depression, I drew in a strong breath. I tried to calm myself.
It was HUGE.
Salmon? It looked like one, but with a strong red brushstroke glowing down it's lateral line, I knew it couldn't be.
It was a steelhead. A monster from the sea, headed back to sea, obviously. Wow. Would it live to be yet another salt, again?
Not if I didn't get it loose, sometime soon!
So, pliers in hand I reached down, and as I did, it turned completely over, like it was playing dead. I was sick. Was it dead? Had I hurt it?
I grabbed my rod butt, and dunked it under water. Using it as a measuring stick, I held it down it's length, from tip of tail to nose. It spread from the butt of my rod, to the first guide, and beyond an inch.
OH MY GOSH. It was swine!!!

I quickly reached down and unhooked the jig and it took off like a flash. I was ticked. I wanted to admire it longer. I wanted to stare at it for a long, long time.
I held the measurement on my rod between my two hands, and headed up to the house, totally breathless, and afraid of what might happen to me on the way. I was NOT in good shape. I sucked fresh air in, deeply.
All of the sudden it didn't matter if I made it or not. It was almost as a gift at the end of life. I really, really thought that was it. The drama in this Mama could have ended the story, there. I thought of how many stories I'd heard, and that it was a good way to go.
Somehow, though, I didn't want my life to end. Funny, I shook my head. I had been so depressed, I thought I didn't care. I guess I was wrong!
Knowing full well that I might not be believed, I held up the rod, for Bill to measure.
I breathlessly, began the story.
You won't believe this, but check it out! On an 1143, that would be 42 inches!
Bill measured it, and as he did, he shouted, unbelievingly, "NO!"
"What, Bill?"
"Even if you missed it by an inch, it's way over 20 pounds."
See? I told you he wouldn't believe me.
Only I know the truth, and the truth is, that fish was unbelievable! I totally understand any doubt!
But you know what? Even long gone, I can still see that fish, right now, and I believe.
And I'll never, ever forget!
Bill is headed out, now, to see if he can catch him again. I think I'll go, too.

March 23rd

Oh my, but it's an ever changing world!
Just when things seemed to be returning to normal!
This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to write, because it's centered around someone else, and because it is breaking my heart.
How do you write about what someone else's struggles when it is such a personal battle?
I tried to get some answers from Bill. How much should I tell? What do you give me permission to say? Argh! He couldn't answer.
I'll just tell you this.
Earlier in the week, Bill went for a physical. He asked to have some tests done. The doc patted him on the back, told him he was healthy, and unless he heard from him, that he'd see him in a year!
Well, yesterday, (was it just yesterday?) the doctor's nurse called.
"Is this Mrs. Hedlund?"
"Is Mr. Hedlund there?"
No, I'm sorry, he's fishing.
"We would like Bill to come in, first thing in the morning."
That scares me!
"Well, I am just doing as I was asked. Can you hold, please?"
Holding. Holding. Holding for an eternity, heart racing.
"Can he come in, in an hour?"
Yes. I'll let him know.

Let the pacing commence! I paced that bedroom floor for quite a while, my mind screaming. Should I drive up to the park and get him? Is this serious? Am I going crazy? Is something wrong with his tests? He had a CT of his lungs yesterday. This does not sound right. Why does he need to come in?
When Bill got home, I had rehearsed over and over what to say, how to conduct myself, but I couldn't help it. I just cried.
"Bill, I'm worried. The doctor wants you to come in, as soon as possible."
(Later he said that he had been so relieved that it wasn't about me. I guess I can relate to that, now, as I see what he went through when it was about me.)
We waited agonizing minutes, with a hundred scenarios going through our heads.
Finally, the answer. They found a mass in his right upper lobe of his lung. There is a 98 percent possibility that it is cancer. Lung cancer.
It is small. Just 2 cms. Bigger than a marble, smaller than a golf ball, and they are so relieved he caught it early! They called him lucky! I don't know, but lucky and cancer don't seem to fit, in my mind.
However, I am glad to hear that part!
He is going in next Wednesday to have it read by a surgeon from St. Vincent Hospital and may very well go directly into surgery from there.
Wednesday? We have to wait until Wednesday?
I will keep you as updated as I can, but please... please pray for Bill.
That the time will pass quickly, until then. That the report will remain positive. That Bill will remain positive.
He was so excited for spring chinook fishing, and gardening, and for Spring in general! I have a feeling it's going to be a tough, no fun spring. This makes my heart sink. Just as I'm coming around. I'm thanking God that I am strong enough to help him through this.
I have hope, and I'm going to face this with positive feelings!
Hope! Hope! Hope-- for the future!
And until next Wednesday, let's all wish him the biggest steelhead in the river!
Why then, do I cry?
Our conversations seem to consist of,
"Oh, Bill..."
and a very simple, short answer,
"I know."

March 25th

Yikes! Hobart called last night, and had enjoyed something an ifisher had written. It was late, and I was groggy. I told him sure... he could mention it! Then, this morning I read it! Uh oh! It's way against the AUP to link non sponsor pages, and this particular article was chock full of them! Sometimes I wonder why we wrote the Acceptable Use Policy. People don't read it!
So, with the help of the mod team, we decided to leave a couple up, and delete the ones that were googleable. (Product sales). Anyhow, please enjoy this article, if you listened to Hobart this morning, and are having trouble finding the link.
Aluminum Boats and Crevice Corrosion By "Strikefighter".
Anyhoo--- I'm having company this morning to fish out back. I've been enjoying this late March fishing so much! It's actually so good that you 'can' expect a fish with every cast. It's a great time to take beginners out for steelies with jigs. Have at it! There is wonderful access to the Wilson, all along Hiway 6. Just please, handle the fish with care. If you are fishing alone, I really don't think you should try to take a picture. It's hard to do! Just enjoy your time on the river, and keep your mental image of those beautiful creatures in your mind. I find that those are the best pictures, anyhow!
If you want to fish the Kilchis, it's best, via hiring a guide, since most of the property is private.
I hope you have a beautiful day! It's crisp, frozen and clear out, this morning. I can see for miles, and miles.... OK, now I have a song stuck in my head for the day! Off I go! Time to make the cinnamon rolls!

March 26th

Did you know that when you pour cold coffee, it sounds different than hot coffee?

I can't explain it, but it does. Try it. It's really disappointing, too. I just came in from the pouring rain and hail. The two hour timer light had gone off and I hoped it was hot enough to at least warm me up. But as I poured it I knew from the sound. It was cold. Yuck.
I really wanted to catch that 'first light' fish. I might as well. David left his TV on all night, below me in his bedroom, and I don't think I slept more than a couple hours, all night. I was up, anyhow.
So, I tried. I even almost did it! I hooked it! On my fifth cast, my bobber dug a watery grave. Down it went! The fish immediately popped out of the water like a jack in the box, doin' that whirly chrome thing. I was ready for him to land. I gave him slack and... and... my bobber flew back and hit me in the face! That wasn't very nice, either!
My jig was gone. Broke loose right where I felt that burr in my line, yesterday. Will I learn? Ever?
So, cold coffee and a bobber to your face, Jennie! Good morning!
Oh, but what fun we had, yesterday! It was a pajama party on the river! Click here to see! Yes, sir! That is Pete in his pajamas, fishing the Kilchis river! From all of the stories of me wearing PJ's, he thought sure that was the trick! I couldn't believe he did that, but he did! The proof is in the pic! I don't know how many times I have to say it. It's the lipstick. Not the clothes!
I had some friends over to fish. As soon as we all were rigged up, I had this brilliant idea! Let's all cast at the same time! I can't believe it, but I made them do it! "Ready, set, Cast!"
The bobbers flew through the air! I was certain that someone would catch something! It's the first cast times four!
No luck. Darn! It would have been such fun!
You know, fishing has been so good on the Kilchis, I thought sure that everyone would have fun! I thought they'd go home with cinnamon rolls in their belly, and memories of ferocious, fighting fish.
Well, the rolls were good!
I finally caught one fish! That was it! All morning long! (I caught a nice evening fish, too, but only one while company was here!)
It was fun, though, and I'm really glad they came. How many days left of late steelies? It's going to be hard to go from this spoiled life of catching fish several times a day, to.... nothing! A closed river! Yikes!
I'm already planning for Bill's recovery and wellness, though. Late May or so? What happens on the coast then?
"Springers, Bill! Springers!"
We'll be ready!
In the meanwhile, coffee-less, I think I'll take a nap.
Or, maybe the water is rested enough to try it again. Yeah... that's what I'll do.

March 29th

Spring is here
Why doesn't my heart go dancing?
Spring is here
Why isn't the waltz entrancing?

I can take a lot. I'm pretty tough. This week, though... has just been darn hard.
Yesterday was so beautiful! Somehow, the joy of spring and the sunshine on my shoulders was overshadowed by Bill's recent news.
You know... a little over a year ago, I suffered an aortic dissection. I made it through that pretty well! It was tough going. I'm still adapting, but I'm making progress, each day!
Just as I was making progress, and we were both ready for spring chinook, Bill has been diagnosed with cancer. This news has been devastating, and scary. 'Life altering' kind of scary.You have no idea how tough it is, until you experience it. The waiting, the wondering, the worrying! But, you know what? we are going to make it through this! We have Faith.
Those two things are pretty big though, and it's hard, so close together. But, last night we both agreed.
The toughest thing, is yet to come and we both don't know how we will handle it. I'm really not sure that either one of us are strong enough to withstand this last final blow that's yet to hit us.
You might want to be seated, before we tell you the news.
Come April 1st, our river is closed to angling.
Closed to angling of any sort! Can you believe that?
They say bad things happen in threes. Whoever is in charge, you sure dialed our number! We can make it through burst aortas! We can make it through cancer! But, the river closures? HELP!
Bill and I laughed over this, last night... wondering if it was in bad taste to joke about something so serious. Well, if it is, we apologize. However, there sure rings a bit of truth in it for us, and humor is a wonderful way to cope with stress. So laugh we do, and often!
I'll tell you. Bill heard that bad news diagnosis last Tuesday. It was a complete shock. We were instructed to wait until the following Wednesday to meet with the surgeon. What a long and agonizing week it's been! Finally, today is Wednesday!
But, still, it's morning... and this is going to be an agonizingly slow wait until 1:00 PM, today.
What happens after that, we don't know.
Of course, I couldn't sleep, last night. I crawled out of bed at 5 in the morning, grabbed my rod, and headed out to the river.
I love "first light" fish. No one else was stirring.
Just the wild life. And I don't necessarily mean animals, I mean the wild life!
Oh! It is wild and it is life!
It is a wild dream come true, this life, living here on the Kilchis! The soft rain in the soggy warmth of spring, and the green, and the green, and the green!
The water flows softly, recovering from winter. The tiny leaves, break out of what seemed to be dead wood. One single, early purple blossom peeks out at me from the tall grass. It's just me, alone, my boots bending the grasses down to create a wet, soggy trail down to the river. I'm sneaking out, headed out to live this wild life while I am still able!
The anticipation nearly kills me. Both for news of Bill's diagnosis, and of fish. My heart races. Soon, my fishing rod will be bent over with flashing chrome, interrupting all peace on the river!
Oh! The wildlife!
Oh! The fish!
I know that they are there. Even if the water is so low and clear that I can read the rocks on the bottom of the river like a topo map, my confidence is high. I can't see them, but I just know they are there.
I was right.
Standing in the rocks, well back from the normal platform of sand, I tried my best to pre measure the increased distance of my cast. With a whole bunch of doubt, I cast my line, trying to make my mark. It landed just two feet shy of my usual, so I was fine with it. In fact, with the river so low and clear, I decided it may be a good thing.that it landed well away from where they could the bobber splash. I avoided spooking them, this way. I worked the bobber into the usual current, and sure enough! Down, bobber, down!
It was a cutthroat, but what a beautiful cutthroat, indeed! I marveled at the spots, and was surprised at the healthy girth of this fish, so early in the spring. She was heavy and healthy and spry! Measuring at least 17 inches long, I quickly popped the jig out and wished her well on her way.
I stopped and admired the quiet around me. Somehow, after the release of any fish, an especially marked quiet closes over the river. The silence startles me, surrounds me, even though it happens nearly every time.
The quiet stopped as my mind returned to Bill, and his current struggles.
The time we have spent waiting this week seems unending. Longer than any river closure! That's for sure! Every year, it's a long, long, wait. Clear from the first of April, to the fourth Saturday in May.
But, you know what? We have always made it. And when we return to the river each May, we do so filled with joy and excitement, and life, renewed.
And so will that life be new for for Bill, just like it was for me as I got better, come spring, last year.
We both have confidence that he will get through this difficult time, and that we both have much to look forward to in life.
I'll never forget my first real fish after my surgery. I just plopped down on the motor cover and cried. The fish flopped in the bottom of the boat. Bill was absolutely shocked at my reaction. It was a beautiful big springer, and he expected laughter and joy, not tears! But those tears were tears of joy, and tears of surprise, and tears of a little bit of fear, but mostly, tears that I just so darn happy to be alive!
I have a feeling, that we are going to have a lot in common, once he's ready to fish again. Bill probably won't cry when he lands his first big fish, post surgery... but I think he'll totally understand where my tears came from on that day, and why they are flowing, now.
What a life to look forward to, here on the Kilchis river!
Warm spring sunshine, the opening of the river, the beginning of coastal spring chinook, and most importantly, the start of Bill's new life!

I think... both our hearts will go dancing.

March 31st

Man. No fair! This is the last day on the river! I must go get sand shrimp! See ya in a bit, Marie!
Most people know by now that Bill will be just fine. I'd never heard someone with cancer get a diagnosis of "100 percent chance of total recovery" until Bill's appointment! When he said that, and added that his lung function would not be impaired by the surgery, Bill and I both flashed a glance at one another, and returned gleaming smiles! Oh, wow! Praise God! That's all I could think! Thank you, Lord!
The surgeon said that he just doesn't see many cases of this diagnosed so early. It was like magic or something that Bill insisted on a C.T. of his lungs. The good doc' originally refused Bill's request. Bill insisted. Isn't that just wonderful that he did? It was like a premonition!
Yesterday, without rod in hand, I practiced walking along the river, without fishing on my mind. I got a small dose of what summer might feel like. The air was warm and moist. Clouds hung low in the sky, unmoving, threatening rain. I was dressed in a long sleeved cotton shirt. No coat, no hat, no gloves.
There was not a whisper of wind.
The rocks were bone dry, from several days without rain, several shades of green mossy shapes, some white, some original slate gray.
I almost expected that our blackberries were ripe, hanging from their vines. It really felt like late July, but certainly not March! The river was low and clear. I was able to study the entire river structure.
Without notice, big, fat raindrops began falling from the sky. I stopped short, and gazed around my feet, watching those huge drops hit the rocks, hard. Talk about colorful! All around me a polka dot rainbow of color! Mossy greens to bleached whites, all with splotchy black dots!
The rain felt good at first, on my hatless head. Soon, the water worked it's way through my hair, and brought a chill. This brief preview of summer had ended. It was enough, though, to make me anxious for those long, lazy days!
As I headed back to the house, I couldn't help but forego the trail home, and keep my pace down river to check out the spawning beds, where the steelhead are working.
My clothes were beginning to soak through. I lifted my hand to my eyes, blocking the glare and stared to the shallows. It has taken years of practice for me to learn to "see" them. I have no good vision, but I do think there is a method to seeing them that must be learned. Bill, with perfect eyesight, agrees.
We stop where the angle is right, and where we see areas of lighter gravel on the river bed. These are the redds. Whether they are active or a finished work of art, is the question. We scan the redds until we see what looks like a stick, or a log in the water. There are several, so 'several' must be in your field of vision all at the same time. It's difficult, because the rain brought a slight breeze. It blew across the riffles and skewed my riverscape.
The sun has to be at the perfect angle, the river, a perfect depth. It was! Sure enough, one of those "logs" began to move. Then another! Then another! Pretty soon I was focused on a three fish school of activity working over a redd! And sure enough, the water ballet commenced!
If there were music, it had to be Debussy! The Petit Suite, to be exact! (Listen, if you like! I used to play this with my Mom, four hands!) I heard that so clearly as I watched. Who needs the real thing?
Once you get a glimpse of the activity, it is very hard to stop watching. I think of it as watching a solar eclipse or such. Is it a private thing? Should I be watching? But, I can't stop!
I stood there watching the amazingly graceful motions of three beautiful steelhead make their way to the top of the redd, turn, and flash back downstream. Then the slow return, sometimes fighting off the competing buck, sometimes darting around in circles. Using sweeping movements of her tail, the female digs out a gravel nest and protects it. It truly is a dance! It truly is magical! And I truly was getting soaked to the bone! My stick-still stance was getting wobbly. I was miserable.
I had to sit! I had to! I had to stay!
I shivered, as I found a place up the bank, a bit. I found a great log in the forested grandstands. Surrounded by sticky briars and deadwood that burst with tiny new leaves, I searched again for activity. It was easy to find, the second time.
As the rain fell, as my hair turned to soggy strands and stuck wet to my neck, I watched. I don't know how long I watched, but Kilchis was able to dig some pretty deep and dangerous holes around me!
In fact, one of the areas that the log I was perched upon soon fell crashing to the ground!
I landed with a hard bump! "Oh, Kilchis!"
The show must be over-- at least for me! I was wet and now dirty, and it hit me to the bone. I was cold!
Well, it's morning, and Bill just called. First out of his mouth:
"How much rain did we get?"
".09" I sighed.
"Ohhhhhh...." The disappointment hit.
The river is still low and clear. The last day of fishing won't be much.
"But, oh, Bill! You should see the redds! They are active!" I went on and on telling him about what I had seen and what I had heard, just as I have, here!
He was interested, but the lack of rain shadowed his excitement and robbed his attention.
I guess he's right. I should be sad.
But, like I said. I have to practice! After all, we have two months of river closures ahead, and I have to be excited for what happens in the river, besides fishing! Yesterday was a great start!
Each year I am amazed at the joy and the excitement that the river brings me, without rod in hand. I don't look forward to it, but I look back on it quite fondly! There is so much life in the river, even when it seems dead!
It's not that bad, I tell myself. There are Spring chinook to catch in other rivers.
I'm going to see this river half full, rather than half empty! Seeing it close up has taught me so much!



A journal of my adventures.