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The full spectrum of catch and release

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POSTED September 30, 2009 2:01 a.m.

I looked back to see if my buddy Brad saw the unmistakable dancing of the end of my fly rod.

It was the first hook up of Saturday’s Football and Fish Extravaganza that is becoming a routine. First, breakfast burritos and the early game on their wall-sized, hi-definition game portal, then a snack, more football, and an afternoon trip to Knights Ferry for trout.

Brad seemed preoccupied, so I turned my attention to landing the terrified fish.

Three cranks of the reel and the fish spit my Montana Special. I turned behind me again, to commiserate my hurried observation that Brad had a story. He was in the river up to his mid-thigh, but was wet to his neck.

He was working his way toward shore from his post up river from a rock that created a textbook trout riffle, with a look of tense discombobulation.

I was about to ask him how close I was from having to fish him out of the current, but the twinge of another strike put me into hook-set mode.

Unfortunately, for the fish mostly, I used my 20-inch trout hook-set for a 5-inch trout and the poor thing was sent flipping through the air.

It didn’t stay on the line, and I checked the hook to make sure there were no major organs still attached though the fish was gone.

All clear.

About the time I was giving whatever fish was left in that pool a chance at the Special, Nate showed up and sloshed his way down near me.

“Brad really wet up to his neck?” I asked.

“Yep.”

Nate retold the story about the time over the summer that Brad tripped, fell backward and had the river turn his chest waders into a current-powered parachute that sent him down river into bushes.

We chuckled but not much.

We both were leaning against the current at about the same place that tried to steal our friend.

Brad was out of the river, and once I was satisfied the fish I flung had told all its friends, I worked my way back to the exit point. Brad was there, working his pulse back to baseline.

I contemplated a line about chest waders working as long as you don’t try a back float, but recognized the situation.

“Little wet?”

“Oh yeah.”

He smiled and laughed. I waded back in feet from where he was resting and we talked a bit while I flippantly tossed my line out into a pool, watched it drift, then retrieved to repeat.

He stayed on shore and air-dried.

Next to answering ‘what’s this fly-fishing thing about’ questions from a dad holding his daughters pink push-and-cast fishing set up, it was the best part of the day.

We didn’t talk about school, just a little football and a lot of fishing. There was a place down a couple bends I wanted to fish, so I left the guys and trampled through the staging area for the mosquito invasion that is ultimately going to destroy earth, or at least the central valley, well, maybe just anyone that walked through. By the time I had whipped the bloody black insects from my left arm, more were sucking at my right. It ruined the next two fishing spots and prevented us from lingering anywhere but mosquito-free zones. I wondered why a black window chose to live in my mail box rather than this utopian marsh, then contemplated catch and release. I catch trout and release them. The river caught Brad and released him, twice. Maybe I could catch that mail-guarding spider and release it where it could do its part to save fishermen from the torture we endured. Maybe I should have thought of that before I nuked it with Raid.

Oops.

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

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