October 14, 2004 at 4:30 p.m.
I introduced my 5-year-old son, Anders, to shore casting for salmon and trout on the North Shore of Lake Superior this past weekend, and it didn’t take too long for the excitement to begin.
I was casually talking to a retired fellow named John early on Saturday morning near the mouth of the Lester River. No more than ten minutes from the time that we began fishing, Anders yelled, “I got one, I got one!” John and I could plainly see that Anders’ rod was severely bent, but we didn’t get too excited initially, figuring the heavier spoon he was using simply hooked the lake’s rocky bottom. What did get our attention occurred only a moment later, when the drag on Anders’ reel began screaming and we witnessed a large king salmon propel itself some distance out of the water about forty feet from shore.
Needless to say, our conversation came to an abrupt halt as I quickly grabbed the net and we made our way to Anders’ side. I’m not entirely sure which one of us was more excited. Anders did everything right. He fought the fish like a champ and was able to put line back on the reel after the king took a couple of blistering runs. The fish jumped one last time – 15 or so feet from the shoreline and a waiting net – when it shook the hook free, righted itself and sped away for deeper water.
My heart sank.
I plopped my hind end down on a boulder and contemplated flinging myself into Superior’s icy waters when Anders said, “Whoa, that was cool! Was that a king salmon?”
Well I’ll be…sure, he was a little disappointed, but his world didn’t stop spinning after he lost the salmon. He was ecstatic that he was able to battle and see such a powerful and majestic fish, and I was thrilled to witness it.
A few minutes after the salmon melee, a large fish hammered the spoon I was retrieving about fifty feet out in the lake. I use a ten and a half foot “looper” rod and 4-pound test line, so it took some time and patience to get the fish to shore, where Anders cleanly slipped the net under a brightly colored, 25-inch Kamloops rainbow trout.
We were fortunate to catch another large Kamloops that went 26-inches early on Sunday morning. Another angler reported that only two fish were caught near the French River on Saturday and Sunday, so I’d say that we were pretty lucky this past weekend. Although, Anders fished with such intensity and unwavering certainty that “we’d get ‘em,” that now I’m not so sure that luck had everything to do with our success. His resolve and determination was infectious, and I soon found myself not merely hoping for, but expecting a hook-up with every cast.
Fishing is as much about sharing emotions and experiences as it is about catching fish.
On Sunday, Anders and I sat on a craggy rock outcropping on the shore of Lake Superior admiring a beautiful fish lying in the net between us. The chrome-silver and iridescent flanks of the trout glittered and reflected the sun’s light on a perfect morning and everything was right with the world.
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