Salmon Fisher’s Journal: February 7, 2010
The way it is – see – is that not everything can, or should be told. Here is what will be told, for now.
Fresh hatchery steelhead were caught.
Coffee was poured.
Flies were fished, diligently too.
A shiny hatchery kelt was admired and then released.
It is amazing how silvery these hens get after they spawn, and how slim they are.
The inside of a steelhead stomach was examined – and found empty.
Two feathers were examined, the contents of a fresh hatchery steelhead caught weeks earlier.
Returning home in the dark, I saw the bushy bearded, homeless man I have wondered about for years. You see, I overheard this man back in about 1994, in Willamette Park, muttering to himself. He was looking out at the river at the time. I couldn’t understand much of what he said, but I did recognize the word steelhead. I wondered if he had once fished. I wondered if the Viet Nam War took his sanity, or bad drugs, or simply life and his genetic biochemistry.
I have seen him many, many days since then. Slim. His red beard like a wild untrimmed hedge. Always on the march around town. Always with a big black plastic trash bag over his shoulder. Always going somewhere. He cooks at the shelter in the picnic area at Avery Park. We (Lisa, Jackson and I) were going to deliver a “care” package to him a few weeks ago, but we retreated when we heard him shouting – probably at demons only he could see.
I still wonder how steelhead may once have figured into his life. I wonder too, how much different he and I are, or could have been, or will be someday.
Then I drove by my friend Andy’s home and delivered a steelhead for him – on his 93rd birthday. He cut off a shoulder for me and began filleting the rest of the buck fish. Andy will savor every tiny scrap of that fish. He will boil the head and make fish soup. He will scrape every flake of meat from the skeleton. Nothing will remain but bleached bones.
I went home. Lisa and Jackson were away for a few days. I cooked up my part of the steelhead, little pieces in a frying pan with olive oil and nothing else. Great fish makes great fish, no frills needed.
Fresh winter steelhead, Bunny Grahams, and Blade Runner. Then sleep.