What is it about Thanksgiving . . . .
Thanksgiving morning 2009: 5 AM. What is it about Thanksgiving anyway? Who on earth thought up this event that is designed, as far as I can see, purely as an excuse for ruining some of the best salmon fishing of the season.
I’m home now, coffee on my desk. My family will be scrambling around soon. We’ll load up the Civic; make a Starbucks stop, and hit the road for Portland by 9 or so. Thanksgiving with David’s wife and family. It will be fun, really fun.
But I should be somewhere else today. I should be on the river. Yesterday was one of my best salmon fishing days of the year. I was where I was supposed to be, the fish were there, and enough of them were grabby to make me smile – and smile. I fished mostly alone, in a T-shirt, in the sun. Boats passed me all day long. “Doin’ any good?” they’d say. “Got a dark Jack,” I’d reply, divulging part of the story truthfully.
At dark, alone on a gravel bar, I saw the wakes coming in. I clipped the boat on a carabineer, let it swing loose in the current, found a rod with a Clouser still tied on, and waded into the water, making little twenty-foot casts. Maybe it wasn’t quite dark yet.
The fish came and came. I let my Clouser hang in the current. Several kings swam between me and the shore. A seal chased fish around, throwing a wave over the gravel bar. I could see my boat slowly drifting away from the trailer, gently tugging at the winch rope.
The kings kept coming as the darkness gathered and the moon rose above the river mist.
I knew how far these kings would travel in darkness, and where they would rest the next morning. I knew where to launch, where to anchor, the line, and the fly to fish.
Eventually, I reeled in and finished loading the boat. I found the truck still running, the driver’s door open, and the transmission in drive. At least the hand brake was on. The boat had drifted to the end of the winch rope.
Today I’m heading out for a great day with my family, and I am genuinely thankful for them and the time we will spend together today.
If I could, though, I would postpone Thanksgiving Day to a different month. Maybe January. Or April. Or any dang month that isn’t October, or November, or December.
Brad paisley sings in the background as I write.
“When you see a lake you think picnics, and I see a largemouth back under that log.”