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Joy of fishing greatest when shared

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003

It is my hobby, my passion and my obsession; but my wife is entirely another matter.

She never liked the idea of sticking a hook into a poor, hapless fish.

However, after a few years and a few trips with me she became curious. She wanted to understand how and why I could derive so much pure pleasure from catching fish. So she gave fishing a try.

Living down in the Lower 48 at the time, we messed around with all kinds of sport fish up and down the East Coast. We caught snook in South Florida, brookies in Maine and practically everything in between.

With each fish landed, my wife beamed with that sense of pride and accomplishment that only fellow anglers truly understand. Her excitement was multiplied by my joy of watching her having so much fun.

With each excursion my wife's interest grew until one day, without knowing when it had happen, she realized she was hooked.

Then came the move to Alaska.

Long before coming to the Great Land, we had heard tales of the colossal size of kings, the aerial acrobatics of reds and the strength and endurance of silvers.

We had seen it all in magazines, books and television shows. Alaska is the place fishing legends were born and we couldn't wait to experience it for ourselves.

The day we went fishing was perfect.

In the azure sky above floated a few puffy, white clouds. There was a slight breeze in the air and the warm rays of the sun shone down on us as we waded into the glacier fed, aqua-marine waters of the Kenai River.

My wife seemed apprehensive after seeing a few big fish roll on top of the water. A guy a few yards away almost whipped his eye out when a big fish broke his fly line and that didn't bode well to calming her jittery nerves either.

She persisted though, flipping her fluorescent fly into the fast moving water then tracking it with the rod tip as it bounced along the river bottom behind a sinker.

Then it happened -- a fish hit. A big fish.

My wife's rod bent like a horseshoe as she set the hook. The water exploded as a chrome blur erupted and flew several feet into the air.

"Whoa! What do I do?" she said.

"Don't loose 'em!" I replied. My pulse quickened, but I knew it was nothing compared to my wife's had to be.

The sockeye barreled out into the fast moving water, ripping line out as it went. I could swear I saw smoke coming off the whining reel. My wife palmed it with one hand to gain control and with the other held on with white knuckles trying her best not to let go of the rod.

The pole pulsed under the strength of this fish. The rod twitched and my wife's arms quivered with each shake of the feisty fish's head.

That salmon worked my wife without mercy.

It danced on the water's surface, dove through deep holes, and cut back and forth through the powerful current.

After several minutes my wife began to tire. She took a step forward as the fish bullied her in deeper and water began to roll over the top off her waders. I began to wonder if the fish was going to win this tug of war.

In my head I milled over if I should throw down the landing net and grab my wife by the belt loops to keep her from going in. I decided against it. This was one battle -- win or lose -- she had to fight alone.

Finally, the fish's stamina began to wane. My wife continued to reel with the last of her strength. She brought the fish to shore and into my waiting net.

At first my wife was a little shaky from the adrenaline rush. She just leaned back against a piece of deadfall catching her breath and letting what had just happened sink in.

I think it became real for her though when after stunning the fish, I handed her her catch. Her eyes were as big as saucers and she was grinning from ear to ear.

For the record, it was a solid 10-pounder too.

We laughed and retold the story from each other's perspective countless times on the drive home.

I was happy my wife had landed her first Alaska fish, but more than that I was thankful we had experienced it together.

Joseph Robertia is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. Comments may be e-mailed to clarion@alaska.net.



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