Breaking in a greenhorn
By JEFF LUND
July 28, 2014
I know it’s not necessarily proper to use the word “dude” in the journalistic world, but I’ll never be mistaken for a sophisticated wordsmith, and “dude” fits what fathers and husbands become when they set foot on an island with more shootable bucks than people.
Troy came up with a duo of veterans, so I kept a close eye on him because the purity of the greenhorn reactions are what it’s all about. They are also a good reminder of what I take for granted.
“Haven’t seen a bald eagle yet.”
“Oh, sorry. I forgot to point them out.”
Two minutes later.
They caught the early flight out of San Jose, so I knew they’d need something to keep them going, so we immediately picked up their fishing licenses and headed to the river. As a special bonus, since dudes tend to like firearms (and fire), I packed my 12 gauge and on the way home, pulled off to one of the shooting pits for some clay target destruction. Troy is an avid duck hunter so he turned into a puppy - happy, excited and doing everything at once.
I had Troy fired up for the prospect of what was to come, and since it was something new for JJ and Eric, they too were enjoying the appetizer for their latest journey into the freedom and relaxation of a town not hemmed in by two freeways and over-regulation.
For locals, it’s easy to imagine this because at some point most Alaskans have had visitors from the Lower 48. It’s then easy to understand how difficult it is to try and articulate the rest of the trip. It’s one of those sections in life when you really had to be there and to attempt to punch out letters and words to bring it to life for a stranger is unreasonable. There’s just too much. But there are little moments which are universal.
The first time that coho salmon was brought on the shore and beat itself spastically against the shore hoping the battery would eventually be rewarded with a splash back into its home water, only to be thwarted by a club, foot, or - even more barbaric - the fist of an ill-prepared and semi-panicked angler.
There’s the first bear across the river and the back-and-forth looks of a Lower 48er awaiting instructions as to how to handle the 400 pound thing working its way down the riverbank so it can better stare at our pile of fish on shore.
There’s the call home from the deck as a spruce needles pop and cloud the lingering evening in a mostly open sky.
Troy’s wife can’t imagine. He couldn’t himself until three days ago. And so the trip went. More firsts every day, even if we did the same thing, because when fishing, the same thing never happens the same way twice. As the final send off, I took them to the place we had our limits of fish processed. There were 10 boxes ready to be picked up and taken home with them to California. JJ wanted to save some fish heads for stew which filled a pair, it was still a good haul of fish. It probably pushed them over the budget they had promised their wives, but I think they figured flooding the freezer with frozen fish filets would quell any financial argument.
As thus ended the first trip for Troy and nearly brings me to the end of another season of friend/tour guide.
It makes the days and months go fast, but it makes the full. As a human, full, satisfying days are about all for which you can ask.
Jeff Lund ©2014
Jeff Lund is a Teacher, Freelance Writer, & River fishing guide (Tranquil Charters) living in Klawock, Alaska