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Spending a Sunday with fellow sportsmen

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POSTED January 20, 2010 2:36 a.m.
­The cool air, choppy water and grey skies were befitting.

Sunday’s trip to the Sportsman’s Expo in San Mateo reminded me of my home island, except for the massive bridge defiantly crossing the waterway to link two cities on opposite sides of the bay that are also joined by crisscrossing streets and more than a couple speedways.

The Expo was two buildings worth of rods, reels, gear, demonstrations, stuff, people selling stuff and lodge owners competing for attention.

We did an initial loop, then I dialed in and attempted to communicate.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, we were told there was a special, and we could pick out whatever kayak we wanted and have it ... for free.”

She didn’t think it was funny. Maybe on day one, but not day four.

Between weak attempts to get free stuff, I talked with the lodge owners from southeast Alaska, my kind of weirdos.

The guy that owns the lodge down the street from my house was there, so we didn’t bother with the small talk about fishing, and I didn’t ask if I could have his lodge.

We shook hands, and I felt a little closer to home.

I spoke for at least a few minutes with each of the other lodge owners, a feeble attempt to make this summer’s fishing bonanza seem a little closer.

The legit locals and I got along really well, and we discussed fishing, fishing locations, fishing regulations and city politics, impacted directly by fishing politics.

The business partner types that are based somewhere else and have only been to the property long enough to say they were there didn’t sell me on their spot, and the conversation staled faster than cheap bread.

After 10 minutes discussing road conditions on Prince of Wales Island with a couple that own a lodge not accessible by road, I caught up to my friends, but not before my hand was stolen by a lady selling lotion.

“This is odorless and completely natural.”

What is? Grabbing dudes by their hands and applying lotion with creepy tenderness?

Once she returned my fingers I continued on, one hand moisturized and the rest of me traumatized.

I found my buddies still ambling about, waiting to head into the adjacent building filled with everything fly-fishing.

The first stop was the Sage booth.

The lady handed me the $850 model, not realizing I was a teacher, not an engineer like the lady that suckered Nate and Brad into buying t-shirts.

“Do I get a reward for not running out the door with this rod while your back was turned?”

“No.”

Brad tried to coax me in to an impulse buy, but I refrained. We passed a book of this lady fly-fishing in South America. I did not have the look of a high-roller so she ignored me completely and continued conversing with the guys selling leader in the adjacent booth.

On the other side of the casting pool where Nate made an impulse buy, I chatted a bit with the owner of Boardwalk Lodge which is two inlets over from my favorite salmon spot on Prince of Wales Island.

After 10 more minutes of fish-talk, I became fully infected with the fever.

It’s cabin fever, fishing fever, salmon fever and even a little crossing-the-border-into-Canada and-concluding-every-sentence-with “eh” fever.

Sunday night, I talked with my buddy Klinger who lives in Juneau about the whole ordeal to fully introduce myself to the fits of fever.

We agreed all the new stuff is much better than the sticks and string our ancestors used, but the whole system makes the enjoyment of fishing monetarily impossible for some.

“It’s like golf, you have a stick and you hit a ball into a hole. How simple is that? Same thing with fishing.”

But the best stuff isn’t available to the people that are no good and need it. Guys that can’t get their flies 15 feet or throw a roll cast don’t have the $250 it takes to get the rod that makes it easier, they are stuck with the $25 2-by-4 that is as receptive as my class on the day after Christmas Break.

Maybe I will bring this to the attention of the Sage lady this weekend at the Sacramento Expo and get one for free.

Maybe not.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.
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