Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: North Coast
The cutthroat of my dreams.
WHOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO what a night!
What a drama, too!
I didn't think I would go out, but Kilchis was begging for a run, so I did. We walked to the lower hole. I was too lazy to cross the swift current, cuz I didn't have my felts on, and the summer rocks, freshly wet, were treacherous.
I cast out about a dozen times. The after dinner coffee I had made me uncomfortable. I had to get to the ladies room. I thought about going in. Caught a couple 10 inch cutts... yada yada...
It was getting dusky, and I thought. "No, wait. You can hold it! :blush: It's getting dark. They say the best cutt fishing is right at dusk."
So, hold, I did.
Cast out a long nice cast with this new drift technique I learned, that helps you get a more natural drift. On the down cast, you lay your casting arm down to the right, and it works really great.
Made a great drift, and at the end, I thought I snagged a log. The tug was enormous, after that. Jack salmon? On a spruce fly? (Thanks, Scott Kappes for the great spruce fly!)
I fought that fish for 10 minutes! I could NOT get him in! I learned, for the first time in my life, was getting down to the backing meant, and worrying! I learned how to palm a fly reel! I learned how to whoop and holler in the quiet dim forest and learned to love the echo of my own voice against the trees!
I called for Bill! I called for Andrew! I called for David! SOMEONE!!!
Only a lone heron returned my call.
I brought the fish in, and worked him up river until I knew I could get Andrew's attention through the open window. I yelled with all my might.
"ANDREW!!!! GET BILL, QUICK!"
Bill came flying out the door. I had hooked this fish deeply, and on his way down, I was trying to work the hook loose, and finally decided it was not worth it. I cut the leader, and held him...
He didn't move. He didn't move... at all.
The excitement I had felt 20 minutes earlier was now turning to fear, and dread. Was this beautiful cutthroat going to die in my hands?
Bill, amazed and in wonder at what lived behind his house, looked on and coached me in reviving him. I knew how, but it took both of our input to convince us that we were doing the right thing.
Bill had a measuring tape. Men are handy like that. I didn't. It was 21 inches!
As I cradled the fish in the water, working him slowly back and fourth in the water, Bill said, "Jen, I don't think he's going to make it." He started in on the lecture of, "Sometimes you just hook them too deeply. Sometimes this just happens, no matter how careful you are."
My heart sunk. Somehow, though, I knew this fish was going to be OK. I knew, somehow, that some miracle was going to happen. This fish, so grand and beautiful, simply could not crush my soul by expiring in my hands.
I prayed like I've never prayed before. I prayed about souls, and hearts beating, and sharing life, and the spirits of trees, and water, and nature around us. I know it sounds silly, but I did.
I held that fish in the water, as the sun completely went down.
Bill kept saying, "Jennie... it's getting late. The fish is not going to make it."
We talked about what to do next, if he did. A shame to let the otters have it. A shame to waste. It would be nice to have a mount. "But Bill! I couldn't tell the story and feel good about it. Why a mount, if you can't have happy thoughts? It would be like an eerie skeleton, a ghost."
Fourty five minutes had passed, and I encouraged Bill to move on. I felt like he was growing impatient. "His gills are still working, Bill. I'm not giving up."
After an hour of me standing in the water, Bill brought me a flash light, sat down, and kept me company.
The fish moved a bit once, swam around a bit, and was totally off balance. Then, it went belly up again. I stood in the water, my knee boots completely full, and let the fish rest against my legs.
I righted him again, and began the laborious chore of gently moving him in the water. Back and fourth, back and fourth.
His fins were moving! His gills are still working! I couldn't give up! I couldn't bonk it! I couldn't leave, either.
Just as I was losing hope, and feeling hopelessly lost as to what I might do next, the fish seemed more steady. He stayed upright when I let him go.
Dare I feel hope?
My back creaked as I finally stood straight, and held the light so that it shone upon him.
He stayed straight! His fins worked in the water to keep him steady. He moved!
This beautiful, awesome, fish, with the brown back and the black spots... Such an amazingly beautiful site, I will never forget!
Have you EVER seen a fish in a river, by flashlight? AMAZING!
The fish moved 2 feet from my boots... then further... then further.
Part of me wanted to go after him. Part of me knew to let him go.
I let go, and watched him with my flashlight until I could see him no more.
The cutthroat, last I saw, was 20 feet from me, and still holding steady.
Somehow, I think God heard me.
An hour and a half had passed since I hooked and landed that fish. I used the flashlight to maneuver up the trail, and into the house.
This experience was one of the most amazing, most spiritual events in my life, and never, never will I forget it.
I'd much rather have a replica then a dead cutthroat in my freezer to deliver to the taxidermy guy.
You'd better bet I'm going to get one. And when it is delivered, I can stare into those spots, and the broad shiny sides and know in my heart that I did catch a 21 inch cutt on a spruce fly!!! --and both that fish, and I... are alive to remember the time.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Whoo hooo! What a Ride!”