Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Like many folks, I usually fish alone. Normally, I fish by chance. After work. After chores are done. Or when I'm inspired by a particularly splendid day. The spur of the moment decision usually precludes the alignment with other's plans and, truth be told, I rather enjoy the solitude.

My buddy Ross is much better at looking ahead. He puts together great parties and is the consummate host. His natural talents in the area are likely reinforced by his training in logistics. Or perhaps it's the other way around.

Last week while he was traveling on business he heard the call of the salt and declared a weekend jaunt to fish for whatever it was that might be biting. It was an inspired idea. I grew up in a seaside community but haven't fished the ocean often during the past few decades. Every time I get back to the ocean, I wonder what took me so long. The ocean's light and smells and textures are distantly familiar in the same way that walking into a old Victorian home and breathing deeply the smell of miles of polished wood surfaces recalls the places where my mom's parents lived. The nostalgia is a powerful narcotic.

To properly prepare we consulted tidal charts, considered the movements of bait and predators and developed a plan. Of course the main challenge in all that is where are the fish. I had heard some reports of fishing in certain places but when you're taking along three children and spouses, the list of places that are both accessible and palatable narrows the options. We needed someplace where there was a hope of fish but that didn't resemble a combination of a landfill and a hobo village (we all know of where I'm speaking).

The shore near a certain river seemed like a logical choice. There were flats and channels that would provide some options should we want to call an audible and move. There was also a nearby state park that had some additional features. And there was plenty for the non-fisherpersons to do whilst the piscators practiced their arts.

Maintaining a respectful distance from squirming eels
Ross made sure there was plenty of squid, bunker and eels to go around. He also brought the big guns; spinning rods up to the task of chucking large bait. True to form, he brought only enough rods for others and made sure the kids were set-up and out on the water.

Ross checking the skirmish line
I got in some casting practice with my eight weight switch rod. At the tail of last winter I got out once for some casting practice amongst the uncooperative Steelhead. If I was going to have any hope of using this gun on a trip to Alaska later this year I needed to use it a bit more than once every couple of months.

I learned a bunch. First, casting a T-11 sinking head on a switch line is a pain in the ass and almost not worth the trouble. A Skagit head works a whole lot better with a sinking head. Second, taking off the sinking head makes this a beauty of a single handed rod (again with the switch line). I can even imagine casting large dries or a nymph rig without looking like a complete neophyte. And finally, sometimes the best time to fish isn't necessarily the time you can fish. Especially in the salt.

No fish came out to play, but all was not lost. For three hours on a Sunday afternoon two boys and a girl tromped through the mud of a salt flat, dissected bait, and stood staring out into the blue yonder contemplating things in only the way one can when presented with the vastness of the ocean. And I got to watch my children begin to experience that inexplicable thing that draws me to places like this.

Did I mention how glorious the day was? No? Well, it was glorious!

Low Tide


  1. "No fish came out to play, but all was not lost." Ah, never is! Great post. :)

  2. Suggested revision:

    "when you're taking along three children and spouses, the list of places that are both accessible and palatable contains no writing whatsoever."