One of the great joys in my life is fishing in the ocean. I was lucky in that my parents always had a boat as I was growing up, so I was introduced to salmon fishing as a youngster as our family spent many wonderful holidays boating in the waters around Vancouver Island. My first job out of high school was guiding at a salmon fishing lodge on the remote BC coast, and I later spent fifteen years working in the commercial fishing industry, harvesting all manner of seafood from Prince Rupert to Victoria. These days my time on the sea is limited to couple of salmon fishing trips each summer.
Now, most of us know that fishermen (and women) are often wonderful raconteurs, and many embellish their tales with colorful detail and dramatic touches that might not be entirely true but certainly add panache to the tale. As the old saw goes, “Every fisherman is a liar except for me and you…and I’m not so sure about you.”
In that vein I wrote this prose poem about someone who is new to not only salmon fishing, but also to the art of talking about his new hobby. He’s a fairly quick study, but he just might be in over his head. (I’ll just add that I’ve actually experienced every fishing event recounted here. Really.)
YOU CAN’T BULLSHIT A BULLSHITTER
“I caught my first salmon today!” I said to the pretty barmaid. “I remember my first salmon,” she replied, “the spring jumped three times before I got it in the boat.”
“I caught my first spring salmon last week, and it jumped three times!” I said to the young man filling the gas tanks for my boat. “I remember my first big spring salmon,” he replied, “it bent my rod almost double.”
“I caught my first big spring salmon last month. It jumped three times and bent my rod almost double!” I said to the man installing the depth sounder on my boat. “I remember my first spring over twenty pounds,” he replied, “damn near spooled me on its first run.”
“I caught my first spring salmon over twenty pounds a while back and it jumped three times, bent my rod almost double and almost spooled me on the first run!” I said to the salesclerk at the tackle shop. “I remember my first tyee,” he replied, “damn seal chased it and left a nasty gash on its flank before I could strong arm it into the boat.”
“I caught my first tyee a few months ago,” I said to the old-timer hanging around the dock. “It jumped three times, bent my rod almost double and damn near spooled me on its first run. Then a bloody seal started chasing it and left a nasty gash in it before I could muscle it into the boat.” “I remember my first smiley over fifty,” he replied, “got the slab to the side of the boat and then fouled the trailing hook on the damn net as I was tryin’ to bag it. Had to drop my rod and reach over and slip my hand through the gills to hump ‘er over the bulwark.”
“I caught my first slab over fifty last summer,” I said to the pretty barmaid. “Big bastard jumped three times and had my rod bent double when it almost spooled me on its first good run. Then a seal started chasing it and managed to rake it pretty good before I cranked down the tension and pumped it to the boat. When I went to net it I caught the trailing hook on the bloody bag so I threw down my rod and tailed the bugger with my bare hand and flipped it into fish box just before the damn seal came smokin’ down the side of the boat!” “Did I ever tell you about the seventy-one pound spring salmon I caught in the middle of a pod of killer whales?” she asked. “No,” I replied.
So she did.