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Is there more to fishing than catching fish?

Posted: June 9, 2011 - 9:06am

“The bite,” as it’s called when hunting fish, is never on when I’m aboard.

That’s why my criteria for a successful fishing trip is likely different than yours. That’s why I enjoy wetting a line, even though my ice chest is gathering dust and I’ve purchased more licenses this season than I’ve caught fish: 1, 0.

No bites on this line.

Invite me to drift the Kenai River, and the wind will bite. Invite me to troll Cook Inlet, and I’ll bite — Doritos, many bags, and I’ll even lick my fingers somewhere below deck.

Toss me a fishing invitation, however, and I’ll show up with rod, reel and tackle box in hand.

Here’s why:

  • Grub — For most, grub means grilling up that day’s catch. The problem with that is my problem with “catch.”

Food is to fishing as a life vest is to a fallen-overboard skinny man who can’t swim.

Ever catch flak for missing the day’s lone strike because you had a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos in one hand and a stick of summer sausage in the other? I have. My buddy’s sleeve made a great napkin.

  • Tunes — From Pearl Jam to Justin Bieber — bring headphones if you prefer the latter — music is a must when there’s a line in the water.

Like wine with food, there’s an appropriate pairing for most situations.

Drifting the river with a crew of five? Dust off the battery-operated boombox, although keep the volume low for those nearby if you’re fishing in tight quarters during peak season for Kenai kings or Russian reds. Listening to music blast from 50 boats is worse than any slow fishing day. And good luck finding a CD that’s not scratched. Trolling the salt in a larger boat? Get that baby wired up! Hiking to a lake with a fly rod? iPods are light, and the drooling bear on your tail will be grateful.

  • Camaraderie — On the heels of a dismal week at work or any head-scratching experience, it’s nice to unwind by fishing alone. However, at the heart of all fishing trips are the stories they produce.

Whether it’s a family outing with the kids, a first date or a college reunion, make an effort to bring someone along. Memories will be made. Plus, stories are always better with multiple characters.

  • Weather — Of course it’s raining as this is typed, but for the most part it’s been spectacular on the central Kenai Peninsula this month. Saturated in Seattle aboard boats full of gear but free of fish most of my life, the midnight sun is enough to keep this recently relocated angler coming back for more. Remember winter? Yeah. Don’t gripe about slow fishing.
  • Scenery — To illustrate the point, a common post-fishing scenario:

Friend who stayed home: How was fishing today, Wesley?

Me: Oh, man, let me tell you, it was great. Got some incredible photos!

Friend who stayed home (eyebrow raised): Really? Can I see them?

Me (grinning, soggy Doritos stuck between teeth): Yeah, look, check these out ...

Friend who stayed home (shifting in chair): Wow, Wesley, the river is beautiful. So are the mountains. And that bald eagle. And all those moose. The boat looks shiny, too. Where are the fish?

Me (Seventy-nine frames later): What fish?

Friend who stayed home (eyes rolling): Maybe it’s time you go floss your teeth, Wesley.

Wesley Remmer is a sports reporter at the Clarion and a fishing enthusiast.

Got a fish tale to tell? A favorite fish photo to share? Email it to tightlines@peninsulaclrion.com.

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