Story last updated at 7/18/2012 - 5:24 pm
When I first started my life here in Juneau, I had the perfect view from my desk at the Juneau Empire. Mountains, eagles, people fishing from the dock - harbor seals trying to catch a bite, also. Something I had wanted to do from that first day was grab a pole and try my luck at catching one of those wriggling, beautiful salmon as well.
This past week, my mother came for a vacation and one of the things on the list was to go fishing. My mom doesn't fish. I didn't fish. I bet you can see where this is going.
We had a lesson in gear, patience and practice, and met a lot of friendly people on the dock willing to give pointers.
We bought a couple of books on gear; we wandered department stores and eventually bought a pair of poles and basics from one.
Suddenly, as we were standing in line at the checkout, a loud beeping emitted from around us. My mom asked what the noise was. I told her she was the culprit, and she denied it. Mom had somehow rubbed the two poles together and set off the alarm on one. The girls in line ahead of us burst out in laughter. People in the lines next to us and anywhere within a 50-meter radius were staring. Our cashier - stone-faced unimpressed.
On Saturday, we began casting and reeling from the dock. Well, more like, I began getting a whole lot of line mysteriously wrapped around my pole... and my mother's.
After a couple of minutes, a man to our left offered some casting pointers.
"Are you left-handed?" he asked.
No. Turns out, I was holding it upside-down.
Once we got that sorted out, it was a lot easier. At least, until I actually hooked one.
The first chapter in the gear lesson is: that $40 pole... not the best idea.
I'd hooked a chum and it was not happy. The reel was really not interested in turning well, but I cranked ahead anyway and we got it next to the dock. I broke the handle off the reel and tried bringing it a bit closer. Mom missed on netting it, as she got the net caught on the wood of the dock briefly. The fish lunged - snap. There went my $7 lure.
Another man demonstrated how to more successfully net from the dock - for next time.
I cast from mom's pole for a bit longer, as she got bored and wasn't getting any bites. I cast again - WOOSH - the lure flew off the end of the line. Next chapter: Tying tighter knots.
My pole went back to the store.
"The fish won," I said to the customer service lady, setting the handle pieces on the counter. She didn't have much of a sense of humor either.
We upgraded to a better pole, and on Sunday I hooked another Chum. This time, the reel turned smoothly. Some visitors volunteered to net for me if they could borrow the net if they caught something (sure!) and we eventually got that boy on deck.
I caught my first salmon.
The process of conking it on the head, bleeding it and cleaning it was a bit rough. I'm a greenie in that area, too, but it was done.
Mom and I kept fishing for a few more hours - well, I did. She got bored and went to take pictures of the eagles.
"Fishing is dumb," she said, moping.
I told her we'll be sure and get her one on her next visit.
Once we got home, I pulled the fish out of the cooler to filet. I make pretty ugly filets. I have cats, and Phantom, the youngest perched on a chair next to the counter to watch. He furrowed his brow and pinned his ears back. This creature was big. I showed him the tail fin. He went and sat around the corner out of view - pouting, I think. I'm pretty sure he thought he'd been replaced by a new pet.
Over the next few weeks my mission is to catch a fish with mom's pole - did I mention it's pink? Oh yeah. The goal is to try and break it via normal fishing. If it works, we'll keep it in all its girly glory. If not, back to the store of humorless employees.
My other goals are to get more pointers and tips on what to do after I catch it (the killing, cleaning and filleting part). I think mostly it will be one of those things where I need to "see it and learn" as well as simply get more practice.
Extra thanks goes out to those who gave pointers, who didn't laugh and tell us to go home.
As for now, Fish On! - hey, give me back my lure!