Monday, December 31, 2012
Some years ago, when we as a family fished often and successfully as well, the pianist's aunt and uncle and married children, a farm family, came from South Dakota for the Christmas season to Lotus City. On a beautiful winter's day several of the party, including the pianist's uncle, went fishing with me to Fiddle Reef. Now Fiddle Reef is aptly named because the reef is the shape of a violin and is marked by a navigational bouy at the wide end where though traffic is heavy, and at the stem end by a bouy as well! The rock is low enough in the water, that at maximum low tide it doesn't dry. We all planned to have supper at the marina after the fishing excursion, so the others gathered at the appropriate time in the evening. I was absolutely intent on my guests all catching a fish and trolled for the entire afternoon around the margins of Fiddle Reef, delicately avoiding grounding our lures on the reef! They all took turns with the lines but despite my best effort; nothing! The pianist's uncle was one of these special gentle human beings and it was his turn on the lines. The rest of the family had gathered at the marina restaurant and they could see us at Fiddle Reef, still fishing in the gloom, lights on now, and it was cold, so we trailed clouds of steam as we went back and forth in terminal desperation to catch a fish. The season was such that these were almost entirely winter spring salmon of 5 to 15 pounds, developing size at that time of the year. Suddenly, as we were about to give up, a line screeched into action and a fair sized fish started breaking water at a tremendous speed, shaking and writhing with each jump. Fortunately it was a Penn reel rather than a knuckle duster so our uncle could play the fish more easily. The violent action at the end of the line did not abate for some time. I ventured to everyone on the boat that it was a large cohoe because a spring salmon, as I said, rarely if ever leaves the water in its struggle to free itself. Was I ever wrong! One thing the spring salmon does to a bait fish ball is to enter the school with its tail lashing, crippling some of the small bait fish, and then turning and eating the crippled fish at leisure. Sure enough, the 10 pound salmon we hooked, was hooked in the tail. It behaved like a cohoe only because of that. I had never seen a tail hooked fish before or since, but that seems strange in retrospect because of the manner by which the salmon generally, within a bait fish school, cripples them before it returns to eat. That's why almost all salmon lures are created to simulate crippled bait fish. Salmon, like all of us, like getting things the easy way and having a leisurely meal. We got back to the marina to join the crowd who forgave us for the wait.Our uncle had lots of fun fishing, but when he went home to South Dakota he said he had quite a tale to tell. Pardon me!