In my line of work, I am blessed to get on the water often. I catch a lot of fish, and, of course, like everyone else, I miss my share of opportunities also. But to be honest with you, I usually let the irritation caused by “the big one that got away” roll right out of my
mind as quickly (if not as gracefully) as the fish swims away. There’s always another cast or another day. And, after all, that’s why they call it “fishing” and not “catching.”
But today was different.
I’ve been fishing with Honest Angler Joe Cermele on a “Hook Shots” adventure at the fabled Miramichi River in New Brunswick, Canada. The fishing has been great… though challenging, as is usually the case when chasing these fish. We’re near the end of the
time when the “blacks” (winter holdovers) run out of the river… and just before the time when the “brights” run in from the sea. The river is loaded… but the fish are picky. Every fish landed is a cause for celebration. And every fish lost… well, you know where
this is going.
Fishing the “Oxbow” run today with guide Tom Jardine, I swung a blue smelt pattern through a trough, and it got hammered. The fish jumped at the exact time I felt the take in my line. I set the hook, and the rod bent full… another leap five feet above the waterline… now he’s on the reel, tearing line down current… another leap confirmed the full glory of this fish… a fat, mature, glistening beast… I turned the fish into the eddy, and as I started cranking it in… I lost it.
There were other anglers who witnessed the spectacle… audible groans echoed over the dark waters of the Miramichi as I slumped in the boat. Had I landed this salmon, I would have had a “lifetime” trophy. But alas… instead of earning a spot in Miramichi fishing
lore, I was relegated to the ranks of other American wannabes who came, saw, and got their butts kicked by these great fish.
There is always tomorrow… but this salmon will haunt me, I know, for many years to come.
If you have a similar sob story that might make me feel better… I need it. In fact, I’ll reward it. For the best broken-hearted fishing tale, I will gift a copy of my new book, “The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.”