Sometimes, in the middle of hectic summer activities, it’s good to just calm down and go fishing. All it takes is an hour, a handline (or little trout rod), a hook and a bit of whatever critters you scrape off the bottom of a dock. And it turns out, you’re never too old to become completely absorbed by a tug on the line.
I figured the kids would’ve outgrown this by now, but Weston led the charge and Skyla soon joined in. And before I knew it, I was peering into the depths and hoping for a bite, too. All for fish that we usually walk past as we jump in a boat and charge off in search of bigger game. Today’s tally: 10 shiners, one flounder–all observed briefly in the bucket aquarium and released–and an hour’s worth of pure fun.
Legendary Texas fly flinger, guitar picker, road warrior, wordsmith and good buddy, Riverhorse Nakadate, rolled onto the Island to fish and eat–traditional Tuesday activities–with Smarty and me. We chased sea-run cutts on the salt way down the Sound, found a lot of dinks, a few mediums, and some true hogs that chased but wouldn’t eat. Mostly, though, we chewed the fat, spun yarns and laughed a lot on a beautiful afternoon. Followed, of course, by our usual Tuesday night gluttony with the full crew, including Neal, Pete, Helene and Morgan. That’s Riverhorse below with the new IGFA 10-Pound Class Tippet World Record shiner perch shortly before packing it up to ship to the taxidermist. What a day.
Long days, warm weather, and best of all, no school. Time to head up into the mountains on the hunt for little west-side trout. We started out serious. That’s Skyla shaking off the rust and tightening up her loop, above, and Weston discussing the merits of dry flies versus nymphs with Halo, below.
But the day was hot and it soon turned into this.
Then long conversations while drying off on warm rocks. Big hike back to to the car, quick stop for giant burgers on the way home, a bit of ice cream and deep, deep sleep. Awesome way to kick off summer.
In order to qualify as “spring” cleaning, we were up against it. The solstice and the last day of school, both signs of summer beginning, were bearing down on us. The kids and I have been working to clean up the house for a couple of months now, but mostly just little sessions between homework, sports, or anything else we could think of to procrastinate. Finally, my mom came up to visit on a mission: Bust out the work and get it done! To say she helped out would be disingenuous. In fact, she led the charge, diving into the hard work of cleaning shower grout, washing windows, organizing cabinets with mind-boggling energy. For three days, the kids and I just tried to keep from being left in the dust by a 70-plus-year-old grandma.
On Sunday, we celebrated with a grand feast of smoked ribs, sweet corn, artichokes and cornbread. That’s the cleaning crew above, about to sit down for a hard-earned meal. Now the house is bright and shiny–at least compared to how it was–and we’re all feeling good about it. Still more to do, but less than there was by several orders of magnitude. Thanks, Mom! Now we just need to stay on it and finish up before her next visit.
Maybe it’s because they’re right in our backyard, or because they’re too small, or simply that they’re overshadowed by the glamour of salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest, but there is a thriving population of sea run cutthroat trout along nearly every beach in Puget Sound. And the fishing is fantastic, perhaps the finest urban trout fishery in the country. In the rush to chase fat, tasty king salmon here in the Sound, and on the coast, and down in the Columbia, or swing flies for steelhead in big, rushing rivers, it’s easy to forget about the humble cutthroat.
I’ve often thought, if only they were twice as big, the typical 14-to-15-inch sea run cutt would match the average 28-to-30-inch steelhead. The rare 20-incher would turn into the trophy 40-inch steelhead–both are found with about the same frequency, or lack thereof. If only. Of course, then Puget Sound cutts would be world famous, coveted by fly anglers everywhere.The inevitable hoards would descend.
Last night, after a hectic few weeks of work and travel and an especially long day at the desk, the beauty of our little cutthroat fishery became clearer than ever. Smarty and I jumped in the boat, ran about five minutes, and started chucking flies. It was calm, quiet, gorgeous on the water. And there wasn’t a single other person fishing in any direction. We fished a couple hours, found a few fish–that’s a beauty Smarty landed above–and made it back to the house with plenty of time for the traditional Tuesday dinner. Turns out our cutthroat are exactly the right size.