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Congrats to Jennie for getting her story published! :cheers: I too submitted a story, and I think at least a couple other ifishers did as well. Although I don't think mine got published, the real reward for me was actually writing the story and the memories it brought back (and still does)

Here is my story, and I'd love to see other people's stories, whether or not they submitted them for the book. :smile: (this is not intended to take away from Jen's success - I discussed posting it with her first)

The Crusty Old Salmon Fisherman:

My grandfather was what I now consider to be a crusty old salmon fisherman. My definition of a crusty old salmon fisherman would be along the lines of a stubborn, weathered, sometimes grumpy type of person who won’t let anything get in the way of getting out on the water in pursuit of the mighty Chinook salmon.

He started taking me ocean salmon fishing out of Hammond, Oregon back in 1969 when I was 8 years old. To get to the ocean from there, you must cross the bar where the Columbia River meets the ocean, and it can be one of the most dangerous bars in the world. But that didn’t bother my grandfather. It didn’t matter how rough things were, or what the weather was doing, we were going to go get our fish! In his mind, the only place to catch salmon was in the ocean – no bay or river fishing for him.

My first trip out, everything was great. The weather was nice, and we caught our limits and had a very nice day. But every single time after that I got sick as a dog. It didn’t matter to my grandfather or his fishing partners, we would stay out until we got our limits or it got too dark to fish. I would stay in the lower level of the boat close to the toilet until they yelled to me that I had a fish on. I would then go up, reel in my fish, and go back downstairs and throw up some more. But you know what – some part of me must have liked it because I kept going for the next few years. Could it be that I too was destined to become a crusty old salmon fisherman myself but didn’t realize it yet?

Eventually, I told my grandfather that I just couldn’t go with him any more because I didn’t like getting so sick. He said that’s ok, and started taking me trout fishing instead when he wasn’t salmon fishing. That’s when I saw what was really inside of that crusty old salmon fisherman. When we fished for trout in the various lakes and rivers around Mt. Hood together, he was just like a kid again. No more was it all about the fish, it was about enjoying being together, enjoying the beautiful country we live in, and passing on his knowledge of how to catch fish and have fun doing it. He would hook fish and hand me the pole, and always let me have the credit for catching the “big ones”. Although I always enjoyed salmon fishing with him, I think some of our trout fishing trips were the most enjoyable.

As time went on and I got older, I started fishing for salmon with friends that had boats inside the bays and rivers of Oregon. Eventually I bought my own boats, and have become an avid salmon fisherman. I consider myself lucky to have learned so much at an early age from my grandfather, and have used and passed on a lot of the fishing knowledge that I learned from him to other people. My grandfather continued to fish the ocean, but since he and his fishing partners were getting older, they were now fishing out of Tillamook Bay, which is less dangerous than the mouth of the Columbia. We would still compare fishing stories, we just fished in different places now.

In late 1991 my grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer that had spread throughout his body. It was heart wrenching to see this tough old guy reduced to almost nothing by this terrible disease. In the final days of his life, it was all he could do to muster up the strength to whisper a few words. I’ll never forget just looking into his eyes, and although he couldn’t carry on a conversation, we didn’t have to. The memories of our fishing together and what he had taught me were at the forefront of my mind, and I could tell those memories were there for him as well. One morning while the family was at his bedside, he whispered “3 rocks”. I asked my grandmother what he was trying to say, and she replied that when he passed away he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered at sea by his favorite fishing grounds he called 3 rocks. We didn’t realize it at the time, but he was telling us that he was ready to go to three rocks. At approximately 8:00 that night, he passed away.

The day we gathered the family to take his ashes out to sea was sunny, warm, and the sea was fairly calm. We loaded the boat and headed out to three rocks. It didn’t take more than 15 minutes in the ocean for me to get sea sick, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because I knew this was my last opportunity to be with my grandfather, and we were taking him to the place that made him the happiest.

Now as I continue to fish for salmon every chance I get, I think of my grandfather often. I wonder if am becoming a crusty old salmon fisherman like him. I sure hope so, because as I learned, there’s a soft caring individual with a big heart under the skin of those crusty old guys.

[ 11-20-2003, 11:22 AM: Message edited by: WheresMyBobber ]
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