My family and I were awaken by an early morning phone call on Sept. 11th from our next door neighbors, The Thornton's who informed us of the terrorist attacks. How shocked we were to watch starry eyed at the T.V. as the most unbelievable attack on United States soil unfolded right before our eyes.......
Sept. 11th was also the day that I was to head down Swanson River on a moose hunt & Silver Salmon fishing trip with my 6year-old son Travis. I spent most of the morning hours watching the news channels trying to understand who it was that we were suppose to be fighting with the one question we have all asked a million times "Why?"
That afternoon I thought perhaps leaving in the morning of the 12th would be a better time however Travis was determined we should still leave that night. He had been looking forward to this trip for several weeks and he felt that the sooner we left the better. I finally gave in despite knowing that by leaving in the evening met putting up our tent after dark on our first night in the woods. Mike Long dropped us off at the canoe landing on Swanson River nearly 8 PM and Travis and I headed down the river in a canoe borrowed from Billy and Rosie Spiers.
My mind raced from the terrorist attack to hunting to the chores I had left unfinished at home, to the safety of all of us here in America. The canoe drifted slowly at times as I pondered many things. I asked Travis what he would think if dad or anyone else he knew took an airplane full of people and crashed it into another building killing everyone. He replied " I think that would be pretty dorky!" Shortly before dark a huge bald eagle (our national bird) made his appearance at a very appropriate time as he flew over the river and disappeared into the woods.
I decided I would put up our tent on the little island just down from the canoe landing. Travis and I began unloading our tent and putting our dome tent together. I stepped around the tent and stepped into a hole along side of the riverbank and fell twisting my left knee. Instantly the pain shot through my left leg and the swelling started. We quickly finished setting up camp and I collapsed on my bed thinking what I should do. Our cell phone would not reach out and I was in the very difficult situation with a badly injured knee and a 6-year son that was depending on me. That night I got the chills from my injury and suffered leg cramps and felt nauseated as I layed there awake. If I could have got ahold of a helicopter to come get us I would have. I also thought if something more serious like a heart attack had happened I would leave my son in a very serious situation by himself!
Morning finally came and I told Travis he was going to have to be a big helper as we broke camp and packed up. We headed out about 8 am in hopes of still finding a moose along the river. Travis worked very hard helping get everything packed up especially by crawling around on his hands and knees hauling everything from our tent. My left knee is swollen badly and very painful but we have no choice but to keep moving down the river.
We spot our first school of silvers and I rig Travis up with a bobber and eggs rig. I catch a female silver about 5 LB on a Mepps spinner that provided us with plenty of fresh eggs. Travis caught several rainbows and several small male silvers before we moved on. We spot a moose cross the river ahead of us about 200 yards but were unable to determine whether it was a bull or a cow. After my third attempt I was able to lift my injured leg up the steep bank and attempt to call the moose back. However this moose wanted nothing to do with a crippled guy and a small boy. Once again we head back down the river. Travis announces that it is time to find a place to get something to eat. A short time later we spot a cow and a calf in the river. Travis turns around and say's "Maybe we should have lunch with the moose's!"
We pull the canoe to shore and cook lunch and once again drift down the river. Rain finds us shortly after we leave and we dig out rain gear. We find one of my previous campsites and pull the canoe ashore and set up camp. Travis and I are getting a lot better at setting up our camp at this point. We soon have our camp set up and decide to take a nap that turns into a long sleep as the rain continues to fall all night.
The following day we got into some of the best silver fishing I have seen. Travis caught four silvers on spinners that were all over 10 LB as well as several smaller ones. We were even towed up and down the river by several of his huge fish. It was a trip I know we will never forget and even though it was suppose to be a moose-hunting trip my injury prevented doing any moose hunting off the river.
We arrived at the canoe landing Friday evening and met a group of 6 hunters here from Louisiana who helped Travis and I carry out our canoe and all our gear. What a blessing those guys were at a very difficult time. Since they were grounded because of the terrorist attacks they were to try to fill in some of their time by silver fishing. I gave them some eggs, bobbers, spinners and spoons for their much-needed help.
After arriving back home I have watched the news on T.V. more in the past four days then I have in previous 6 years. My knee is getting a little better despite not been to the doctor yet. l think going to the doctor is a luxury I still have unlike those buried in the bottom of the rumble of the World Trade Center.
I for one refuse to stop enjoying life as we know it here because of barbaric acts of terrorism. I also urge all of you to do the same, get on with your lives, and overcome the things you can and pray about those you can't.
See you next week!
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