One recent evening, my roommate came home with a peculiar-sounding slosh in his step.
He'd been out fishing for reds on the Kenai and had managed to fall in. Twice.
I've claimed to be a lot of things, but overly compassionate was never one of them and I’m afraid it showed when, instead of offering a towel or — really — tangible support of any kind, I giggled. More than twice.
Honestly, you try watching someone swim out of their waders without letting out a good guffaw or two.
The next day, a co-worker told me it'd be a crime to get all the way through the season without snagging a sockeye of my own so we made our way to the river a few nights later.
I, in my roommate's too-large waders and a borrowed rod, and he with a too-small net and overabundance of lures, wound our way down the wooden staircase at Soldotna Creek Park on a Friday evening.
We paused just long enough for him to encourage two kids who’d managed to affix a dangling bit of fishing wire to a long stick. The enterprising spuds actually had a bit of fish guts hanging from that wire and when they saw him walking by with various fancy fishing accoutrement one of them complained that they’d never catch a thing.
“Nonsense,” he said. “You can catch a fish with a bone on a string. Just keep trying.”
He's 24 going on 50 that one.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that bait was prohibited on the river and anyway they didn’t catch anything so it was mostly harmless.
He patiently explained the basics of casting and let another co-worker and me go on the river.
Stop me if you know where this is going.
I'm still a little confused as to the full sequence of events, but sufficed to say.. when a friend loses a beer in a fight with a fish.. don't hurry to save the beer. It is a beer and anyway who tries to reel a fish in with one hand?
One hidden boulder and two left feet later that glacial river water was filling my waders faster than you can say “tempting fate.”
There were at least 30 people fishing within sight distance and I was laughing too hard to get up immediately; a fact that I regretted for the rest of the evening.
Side note: I was also too cold to blush when I realized how many people were laughing as I stood up, noticeably carrying about 20 extra pounds of water weight.
I didn’t catch anything, although I managed to stay out another hour before calling it quits and running (waddling rather) home to sit in a too-hot shower for several minutes.
The roomie certainly appreciated it.
I managed to go on a much more successful fishing adventure a few days later and I can pinpoint the exact moment when my inner vegan finally bit it; right around the time I reeled my first nine-pound sockeye in and learned that you could pop a gill or few to bleed it out. Color me vaguely reddish and deliriously happy.