Slide Show

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meat fever

Pat's 50-pound king

’Tis the season, when salmon run up river in waves so thick grandma could catch one with her trout rod.  That’s when the meat fever hits. 
It’s a common affliction that is often brought on by the sight of many large silver fish rolling and splashing their way up the river. This can trigger a psychotic reaction in individuals with a genetic predisposition to fish. 
I am one of them. This is my story.
I was just another freelance wilderness gossip columnist late for a deadline on a story about … well I had no idea so I thought I might as well be fishing since I was on the river anyway.
Writing is a lot like fishing. You need a good line, a sharp hook and the right bait or lure. You throw the whole mess into a medium where you cannot see beneath the surface and wait for something to bite.
Then you set the hook, drag it in and beat it over the head with a club. 
Or not.
Sometimes you can catch and release and they’ll get caught all over again, or read the column every week.
All I know is I was minding my own business, trying to write a column about fishing.  I saw a salmon jump out of the river with a plug in its mouth. It was on the end of my line.  
By the time I got the fish on to the shore there were four other guys, casting like demons where I had hooked the fish. They all had one thing in common they had drifted from the evil cities across the water to fish in the solitude of the Olympic Peninsula.
One look told me they were suffering from meat fever too. Each had his own way to cope.
One of the anglers was flossing. This is a sophisticated and effective form of snagging where the fish take the line in their mouths as they swim upriver. As the fish reaches the end of the line it is snagged in the mouth and it’s fish on!
Another fisherman was using bait. Bait fishermen look down upon the flossers but they should talk. Bait fishing is a dead end road to nowhere since fish eggs are the best bait.
You have to catch fish with fish eggs to get more eggs so you can catch fish.  Meanwhile, you and everything you own becomes covered with the sludge of rotting fish eggs that make you smell like the dumpster behind the fish market.
One of the guys was using spinners. Spin fishers look down upon the flosser and the bait fisher and why not. 
Spinners are technological wonders made of shiny metal alloys and flashing paint colors that can have a hypnotic effect on someone shopping for lures.
Like the kid in the candy shop the spinner fisher in a tackle store will fill up a basket with shiny trinkets designed to catch the angler’s eye. The spinners are then thrown into trees along the river’s edge, one after the other until the place looks like it was decorated for Christmas.
Then there was a fly fisherman, casting his heart out at the head of the hole. Fly fishers shun the flosser, bait and spinner fishers for good reason.  They made a movie of Brad Pitt fly fishing. 
Many fly fishermen suffer the delusion that they are Brad Pitt.
I fish plugs, a method despised by other anglers who say it’s just a couple of dummies, one on each end of the line.

I’m sure that’s just the meat fever talking.

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