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Written By: Kathie Morgan, January 29, 2013
While some fish have your name on them right from the start, others seem fated to streak across your fishing trip like a shining meteor. Their flash in the pan turns out to be merely the reflection of a vanishing rainbow riding bareback aboard a whirlwind. For the rest of your life you give thanks for the memories they leave behind and you wonder what you could have done differently.
It helps if you can figure it out. Sometimes it’s your fault – you lose a fish because you neglected to check your gear after the last trip out, to replace hooks, oil and refill reels, check the guides for notches, and more. But sometimes the fish wraps your line around an obstacle, or you lose your footing on a slippery deck. Sometimes the stars line up badly.
Ever stop to think how often you catch more fish and bigger fish than you deserve?
Take a recent example. We had launched from Cuttings Wharf at 8 am, and David landed our first fish 10 minutes later, trolling a large green rattletrap past the Napa Marina. Maybe we should have stuck around there, but we didn’t. We headed down river and managed only two more fish during the next 2-1/2 hours.
By 10:30 the breeze had picked up. That didn’t keep me from performing my stupid stunt of casting almost directly into the wind. A forgiving fate was on my side, I thought, glancing down at my reel. Scarcely a backlash was visible.
David was moving us along at the slowest speed possible, and we had the wind at our backs. I stripped line off my reel as far as I could, giving myself plenty of slack, but the overrun had gone very deep. My deckhand experience generally pays off in such circumstances, but not this time. I worked my way down to where the reel handle would turn no more. Clearly I needed first to save my lure, a white Berkley PowerBait swimbait. I reached for the line where it entered the water.
And got bit.
There are two ways to say the phrase “Just what I needed.” Both were appropriate. On a slow day, any bite is welcome. At the same time, I didn’t like the odds.
A lot of line separated me from my fish, and much of that line was piled at my feet. I could see where the monofilament entered the water back aft. I could even see the dorsal fin of the fish as he browsed the shallows against the far bank. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I began to pull in my line hand over hand while David yelled, “Don’t lose your fingers! Your fingers! Watch your fingers!” More loops of line joined the pile at my feet.
David asked, Did I want gloves? No, I didn’t want anything but my fish. No way in the world was I likely to get it, but that didn’t keep me from wanting. I had to circle the boat, using my hands and arms where I would ordinarily have the rod to help me. Weird! My arms don’t flex like a well-built rod.
“Want me to get you some gloves?” David asked again. “No, I want you to net me my fish,” I replied. It had come up once, unexpectedly, right next to the boat. I expected it to show up again at any moment. When it did, David netted it expertly and we were done for the day.
Next time my stars align, I’ll be looking for you on the banks.
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