Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jim's Salmon

This is the second of a series of guest posts from my buddy Chad. He is a great writer, fisherman and father. I hope you enjoy his work and style as much as I do. 

we don't have a ton of winter fishing here where i live, but the state stocks atlantic salmon brood stock and they can provide some fun times when you are desperate. some of them are dumb, and like logs just heavy. others really put up a good fight. they are pale effigies of real salmon, but they are the biggest game in town open water in the winter. i like to fish them with big streamers.

one day a few years ago i was having shit luck haunting my usual spot. it was bitter cold with a fanged wind biting. my feet eventually turned to useless blocks so i figured to move on. i made my way upriver to a spot that is pretty popular. up just below the dam, there is a fire ring and you can shoot the shit, have a beer, linger before going home. sure enough i saw this old dude with a big ass spin rod and a cane. we started talking as fishermen will.

his name was jim and he had never caught a salmon. this bothered him. he just wanted one he said, all them other guys got em! why not he? i felt for him. it had been 2 years of fishing before i got my first. but i knew if you kept fishing there, one dim bulb would eventually get pissed off enough at your streamer or spoon or whatever to smash it. i told him so. keep on casting man. yeah, he says you got that right! i'm gonna!

he was one of these fellas that just come across so genuine, i liked him immediately. he was retired from the union, worked part time as a black jack dealer at the casino. had a bum leg and a big ass beard. loved to go fishing. wished he could do more of it. i told him, jim you are going to get one today. i gotta feeling. he was using a big mepps spinner.

i was casting a while later downstream when i heard a commotion. looking up, jim was on a fish. he had no net so i went quickly up to where he was to help him out if i could. he couldn't get down to the river edge too well because of the bum leg but luckily he was using heavy line. he fought the fish and it ran around and thrashed and jumped as a spirited one will do.

he kept the pressure on the fish, and when it was spent, i netted it for him. and there, was jim’s first salmon.

at this point, he began to laugh. SON OF A BITCH! he yelled. SON OF A BITCH!

i brought the fish up to him. it was badly hooked, deeply in the gills it had taken his spinner and it was a goner. i had my ice fishing backpack with me so i got out my lip gripper and took the fish by the lip so jim could hold it.

SON OF A BITCH! WOULDJA LOOK AT THAT! he said, and he laughed and laughed.

i says, jim let me take your picture and i promise i'll send you a printed copy. that’s your first salmon and that’s a pretty damn good thing! congratulations man! i snapped a picture of him with the fish.

then he reached into his coat and pulled out a bottle of mr boston blackberry brandy. YOU GOTTA HAVE A SIP WITH ME! MY FIRST SALMON! and he laughed. i took the bottle and took a nice slug. he was still laughing like a kid. and it moved me.  and it moved through me with wings and it tickled me. 

i started laughing too. it was such pure and good laughter that we had there. it was the sound and body of happiness. and he put his arm around me and we laughed and laughed. it felt like nothin.

we passed that bottle back and forth a while. i got his address.  we laughed and laughed.

i felt great for a week after that. whatever it was? didn't matter. jim got a salmon and i helped him net it. i printed his picture and sent it to him. he wrote back that he had broiled it and it was delicious. we saw each other a few more times, but i haven't seen him in years now and i wish i could. we'd have a damn good laugh about that first salmon of his and knock back a swig or three of mr boston.  for old times sake, to first fish, to good laughter.