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In the meantime, spin those yarns

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POSTED August 12, 2009 2:28 a.m.
For the sportsman, transitions from season to season are usually the best time for stories, or at least, when the stories get better.

As I transition from Alaskan salmon to California fishing and the upcoming deer season, I can’t help but wonder about the legitimacy of my tales.

I am sure that much of what I share with southerners that haven’t been to Alaska sounds ... fishy, but it’s as accurate as I can remember, and unless you have fished Alaska it is difficult to imagine I suppose.

Maybe sportsmen overall are skilled at jigging the truth, if only to at least snag the interest of a dormant outdoorsman.

I believe there are two basic types of tellers. There are those that reek of authenticity and every time something ridiculous happens, it’s completely conceivable that it did transpire.

The guy that tried to lasso a deer as it swam from island to island, and had a real battle once the buck reached the beach and he didn’t have a gun.

The guy that flew his plane in for a hunt, shot the deer, fell, broke his arm, packed out the deer and flew home.

Those, however, only work if you know the person.

Then there are those that once they open their mouths, even if it’s to say, “Hi,” you become suspicious. Even if they recall a time their true cod was munched in half by a ling cod (which is a lot less rare than one might think) as they were about to boat it, it stinks of fabrication.

There are always trophy fish that get away, which is actually counter-productive to establishing legitimacy. If you want to sound like a good fisherman, wouldn’t it behoove you to not just tell stories about all the times you couldn’t close the deal? If you could, just show the picture and tell the truth.

One of my favorite stories is true down to the improved clinch knot.

After a month of hard fishing I had lost the majority of the line from my spool. I had maybe 30 feet of line in the bank after my Jim’s Silver Getter splashed.

And naturally, since I caught fish, I never thought about respooling.

When I felt the weight of the hooked fish and it started taking off directly down river, I knew the non-issue would be the issue. I charged the water and began stumbling over submerged rocks, fighting the fish determined to make me feel stupid.

The current pushed at my lower back, but I kept the rod tip up and tried to retrieve line when I had stable footing.

I ran out of line, and the looped line around the spool was all that held the fish. I tried to reel, but the loose knot just spun around the reel, not collecting any line. As the fish rested, I put the rod between my legs and held it with my forearm to keep the fish from taking my brand-new rig. I cranked the reel, and fed the retrieved slack around the spool with the other hand. When I had a couple of revolutions I returned to regular cranking and in 10 minutes I had the fish on the shore.

It was a Humpy or pink salmon, a fish that no one that knows any better would keep.

My buddy Klinger is also a truth teller. He is one of those enduring dudes that believes life is interesting enough as it is, that fibbery isn’t needed. If exaggeration is required, then the story wasn’t good enough to tell in the first place.

So when he started in, the only thing I didn’t believe was his confession about being a poor fly fisherman.

He spoke like he knew the sport, not read it, watched it, or took a class. He was drifting for steelies when a pair of pretentious fly fishing models criticized style and technique. Klinger and his buddy were clad in Alaska Nike (Carhart) pants, hooded sweatshirts and old caps. They looked more like rural contractors than fly casters, probably because they are rural contractors.

Klinger’s buddy took the challenge of the river poets, cut a piece of his shoe lace, poked it with a size 1 hook and proceeded to catch a 20-inch rainbow.

I can see that.

Whether it’s a story, or the truth, I’m not sure it matters.

Whatever it takes to keep me off the couch and in search of my next story idea is motivation enough.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail
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