ON THE KENAI RIVER, THREE YEARS AGO — The river had been slow. Not many Kings being caught. I'd not yet fished.
At a gamefeast BBQ, I saw my fishing friend for the first time in months. "You have any eggs?" he asked (cured salmon eggs are a bait of preference for some people). "No," I replied, adding with uncharacteristic sass, "Take me fishing and I'll get you some...." He gazed at me, "Tuesday, 5:00 a.m.," he said. I laughed, "Okay, you're on." I didn't think he'd call to confirm. He did.
Tuesday was wet. Cold. We'd fish from 5:00 to 8:00 a.m. before work. By 7:30 a.m., not our boat or any other boat was getting a bite. Three of us in the 24 boat were telling jokes. The coffee was about gone. A steady rain poured.
My fishing line is slack. I hear, "go ahead and reel up." We all know this means we are calling it a day. I look to him, lifting my rod from the holder at my left, begin to reel, fingers a bit numb from cold and rain. About the time my quickfish lure should be starting to surface beside the boat—and I admit, I'm feeling slightly disappointed but still grateful for the time on the river—my rod jerks, hard. A chrome King Salmon explodes from beneath the surface, two feet from the boat edge. Instantaneously my line is taut, rod tip bent over. Chaos erupts as we three realize I've been reeling up the slack from a Chinook swimming toward me and the boat.
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