I posted this on the main board but I am more interested in the Dog's opinions:
Mike Mc, Salty Walty, Ron, Skein, Pilar, Ocean Blue, Id Painter, Kujo, Puffin, Stoyjun Princess, Keta, Flush, Popeye, Mr. Fisherman, Anybody?
Years ago, I had a friend who was a guide on the Deschutes. Gene Blackwell is (or was) his name. Gene taught me more about fishin than anyone before or since. Man, did we have some fun while I was getting educated.
We mostly fished the Deschutes and the John Day for steelhead. He also was a pro with sturgeon in the Columbia and we whacked a bunch of Tillamook nooks back when 35 pounders were the average. If there were fish to be caught, Gene was usually right in the middle of them.
He was a much better fisherman than I and he obviously loved to fish. But, I loved and still love fishing every bit as much as he did. To rephrase that, I never met anyone who loved fishing more than Gene except for me. For many years, Gene and I were fishing EVERY weekend. This was pre-wives, mind ya.
So here are these two people pretty much dedicated to the hookset back then. And what brings a chuckle to me is the completely different way we played a fish once the hook was set.
I danced with (played) the fish. Gene wrestled (fought) the fish.
I was never in a hurry to get the fish to the boat. I guess I figured I had worked so hard to put myself on the boat or river and spent so much to get that hook in the fish’s lip that I wanted to now relax and really, really enjoy the moment. Light tackle, light lines and light drags were the tickets. Getting spooled was always a probability. I had done this enough to know how much drag I could apply without the light line snapping. I may need to run up the riverbank or Gene might need to fire up the kicker and chase (my idea - rarely happened) – whatever it took, I was going to enjoy every minute of this foxtrot, polka or Riverdance. My rod would be bent and the line would be screaming and I would be loving every minute of it.
Gene had a different plan. He attacked the fish.
Gene would always have twice the bend in the rod than I would have. His drag was always to the absolute max for the line we were using. One wrong move and the line would snap (my fear – rarely happened). And while the rod was bent in half, he would be doing everything he could to get that fish closer to the boat or bank. When he was at the apex of his pull, he would throw the rod tip forward and reel like his life depended on it. Then, the rod would be bent in half again. For Gene, it was like a race against time. It was like he had somebody on the end of a rope who was drowning. He had to get it to the boat NOW! I never understood this attitude but I would always run for the net when he set the hook because I knew he would have that fish to the side of the boat ASAP.
Now, here is another thing I never understood. While he was doing this, profanities were echoing up and down the river. As best as I can tell, he was sincerely angry with the fish! “You BLEEPING BLEEP!” he would holler when the fish would make a run. The more runs, the madder he got.
Is there a psychologist in the house?
What was up with that? Why would this awesome fisherman react like that when he had a fish on? And remember, Gene LOVED to fish! He did it whenever he could…WHENEVER HE COULD! Nobody made him do this. In fact, he dedicated his life to this!
I would ask him, “Gene, what’s up with the cussing. What’s up with the anger?”
And he would pause and say, “I wanna wrestle. I don’t wanna dance.”
I knew a little of Gene’s upbringing and it could have been prettier. Maybe that was part of it. Maybe he had a distorted concept of love. Maybe love to him meant profanities and muscle flexing. I don’t know. We never went there.
And maybe I’m a wuss. Maybe this dancing and playing thing is overrated. Maybe it really is about you; the fish; and the battle. Is that it? Have I missed the whole boat here?
So, let me wrap this up and then I’ll ask a question. The last time I saw Gene, he was selling everything. I couldn’t afford his boat but I did end up with most of his tackle and his kicker motor. He was headed for Alaska. He said he felt a powerful calling to guide up there. Months later, he called and was repairing refrigeration units on boats in Sitka. This was part of his plan – just a stepping stone on his way further north.
He was calling to tell me of a moose hunt he had lined up and wanted to know if I was in.
I was married. Two kids. Mortgage. Dog. Old boat that needed repairs. I told him “No.”
I never saw nor heard of Gene again.
Anyway, my question is this:
Are you a player or a fighter when you hook a fish?
And, of course, I want to know why.