Whenever I have an airport layover, I make a point to sit by a window in the terminal so I can watch the planes take off. I hate flying, but I love going places. And it soothes me, as I wait, to watch aircraft lift away from the runways, if only so I might imagine the adventures to be had.

There goes a Northwest jet. The sign on the gate told me it was headed for Anchorage. I watch it taxi for 10 minutes, convinced that somewhere on that plane is a man (or woman) who will see the Northern Lights for the first time tonight. And tomorrow, by dinner time, they might just scratch the tail end of a run of silvers.

A 757 lifts and sails directly toward the sunset. San Diego? Makos? Tuna? Maybe Baja … Gonzaga Bay. Yet another flight thunders down the runway and banks to the south, then levels its wings. New Orleans? Maybe Miami, and from there, on to the Keys. Ah, the salt, the flats. “Be warned,” I think, “One silver king will change your life.

Off another jet goes to Montana. It’s Trico time there. “Be up early,” I mutter. “Cast into the foam lines. Tell Pete Cardinal I said hello.” A lady gnawing on a Taco Bell burrito overhears, and slides two seats farther down the row.


Eastbound flights lead to stripers, brookies, landocks, and Atlantic salmon. Contemplating those souls in search of the latter, I think (this time to myself), “Poor fools, you’re gluttons for punishment.”

Memories of fishing adventures make layovers like these pass quicker, easier. The more you experience and remember of times on the water, the better this game goes.

At last … my boarding announcement. I have one more short-hop flight to catch. North. Not far. To the home river. By tomorrow morning, I will have shed the phone, the computer, and airports in favor of small hoppers, sandy high banks, and brown trout … at least for a week. I still hate flying. But this is one trip I can’t wait to make.