Hot off the presses!!!
What a day it was. After spending hundreds on that fancy new aluminum dipnet with glistening new green gillnet mesh, finally finding a set of chest waders that will fit as long as I remember to suck in when I pull them up, and getting a hot deal on two brand new chest coolers, we are finally ready to take off for the Kenai. We've got to put meat in the freezer. Of course that is an excuse, but it worked well enough to get the little lady to give in.
So, with everything loaded in the coolers in the back of the Suburban, the kids all strapped in, and the wife nestled in for the long trip I fire off that old Chevy and put it in reverse. Then the wife asks if we're going to take that brand new net lying against the side of the garage. Sure, I'm just moving the truck closer as I shift into drive and pull the "I meant to do that" cover. Fifteen minutes later we're on the highway with the new net fluttering in the air currents above the windshield. Traffic is thick this morning, so it takes an unusually long time to get out of town to the freedom of the open highway. That was short lived, too. A line of motor homes trudging along in the safety zone keeps us at 45mph seemingly forever. Oh look, a bore tide! Finally they pull off.
Forgot to gas up and we better pick up some ice just in case they are sold out in Kenai. Into Girdwood we go. Ice. Bathroom. Candy bars. Watched that group of motor homes drive by while finishing the fueling. Great. Will have to deal with them again in a mile. At last we get moving again. No more stops, let's get to the fish.
By the time we get past the train depot, we've finally gotten around those slow motorhomes again. Obviously they are traveling together with the Milepost as their guide. I just have to keep reminding myself, it's good for the economy. We like tourists. We like tourists. It's not working.
Pulled out at the top of Turnagain Pass so the other kid can go to the bathroom. Watched motor homes go by just before we pulled out again.
Finally out front of the motor homes and passing the halfway point that is marked by the Hope junction, we are well on our way now. But then, up pops that glaring, vile hex; the orange flagger sign. Oh no! The pilot car sign, too? What is all this? We are going to miss the next tide for sure. It seemed like we were parked in that line forever. Let's go already.
Finally out on the water, the surface is simply boiling with huge sockeye. Folks are happlily pulling out fish one after another. The weather is perfect, the sun shining, people are laughing and having a great time. It couldn't be any more perfect. Until it became phenomenol. I thought someone grabbed my net. The jolt nearly knocked me off my feet and I scrambed to get a better grip on the wet handle. Not quite yet understanding what was happening, I was being pulled into the river current and nearly flooded my chest waders before regaining my composure. The splashing was enough that I was catching salt spray in the face. I rotated the net flat and started to pull back. The water exploded within the frame. I'm going to have my net shredded right here, right now. What is this, a whale?
Slowly fighting back, I managed to drag us back toward shore. Now the image is becoming clear. This is a salmon. This is a big salmon. This is a huge King salmon. The excitement has my heart racing. We've got to get to shore without tearing up the net. Steady as she goes. The fish is really wrapped up in the net. I might be able to do this. I vaguely hear people behind me cheering me on. Just a few more feet. Knee deep water now. This fish is mine. Man that thing is huge. It dwarfs the frame, but there is enough net wrapped about the head and gills that it is trapped. Most of the fish is well outside the net so we need to grab this monster quickly.
At shore and the fish isn't giving up so easily. As it flops and struggles I get my hands on it. That's it. We made it. This thing is bigger than the kids. What a beautiful, bright king salmon. Consider the freezer full this year! Assisting hands arrive and a scale appears. Up it goes with much help. The 100# scale bottoms out. This fish is over a hundred! We're going to have to go to an official weigh in station for this. I think I have a new world record!
The cheering grows louder and suddenly a loud horn brings me back to my senses. The pilot car has taken off and the line is moving forward. The kids laughing at me for nodding off are interrupted again by a honk from that motor home behind me. Shifting back into drive, we catch up with the line and continue our journey down to Kenai for some dipnetting.
Hope your dreams come true! Have a good day and remember, let's drive safe out there!!!
This is a purely fictional short story. Copyright 2009 by JOAT