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Anadromous- The Journey Begins

Posted by Mark Saturday, February 4, 2017




Hey all,

I am going to try something I have been wanting to do for awhile. I am going to write a historical fiction story of sorts on the pages of my blog and you the reader will get to watch as it unfolds.

I have a rough story line that I will develop as I write but this is basically going to be improvisational writing. Its a risky endeavor and it may be a train wreck I dont know.......

Each new part of the story will be written more or less on the spot. I worked a bit on this first part ahead of time getting my thoughts together and developing the story line but from here on out I will basicaslly write each part fully off the top of my head as I go.

We will see how it goes and I am going to go where it takes me.

The story is based in the State of Jefferson in the late 1950's. This story will follow the life of a young boy as he grows up along the coastal rivers in the redwood wilds and how he meets a reclusive old man who is flyfishing legend.............



Part 1



Anadromous-The Journey Begins
The clock on the wall moved so slowly. The second hand struggled to spin and I swear the minute hand hadn’t moved in 10 minutes. Will this day ever end? The droning voice of the teacher sounded like the parents in the old Peanut cartoons, Waa Waaa Wawaawawa .
Nervously fidgeting with a mechanical pencil, I looked down at my well-worn sneakers and they instantly took me back to the many places they had traveled. Johnson Creek fishing for brook trout, deer hunting with Uncle Merle out on the pine flat behind the old mill, pheasant hunting along the ditch line down in Doolittle Gulch. The many hours of baseball with the gang at the schoolyard ball field, had also taken their toll.  I think I was sliding into second base with them when they were just two days old. I remember Mom was furious with me as she watched me take them off on the front porch, the red clay mud of the base path falling off them as they hit the worn boards at the top of the steps. I saw the rip in the heel where the barb wire fence caught it as I slipped through the wire running to escape the bull in Mr. Freedman’s field. That part of the creek next to his field always had the biggest fish………..
RINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!! The bell signaling the end of class shocked me out of my daydream and I grabbed my backpack and ran for the door.
The teacher grabbed my arm before I could escape the room and said “Maybe you could pay attention a little more tomorrow, you are usually so attentive, and don’t forget the test!”
“Yes Mr. Cooper” I stammered as I walked out the door.
I couldn’t wait to get on my bike and head home. Well, I say home but I wander a lot. After school was always a time of exploration and today was no different. These rides home often took till dark and then I had to endure the wrath of my mother for being late for my chore work.
Today, I took the usual long way home heading straight for the creek to see if the salmon had made it up this high yet.  The air was cooling and the seasons were changing, it should be about time I thought as I pedaled madly away from the school.
It was late October and I had seen the fish on good water years up here by now. This year was a pretty good water year and the creek was flowing at a moderate level. There were some deeper pools that might hold a fish but they would be still be exposed coming over the gravel bars to reach them. A short rain storm earlier in the day had raised the water slightly and was now carrying old and new fallen leaves downstream.
I laid my bike down on the grass and walked the trail downstream towards the Big River still some 20 miles away, searching for signs of the big fall Chinook. I surprised a great blue heron that was fishing the shallow pools and it jumped up in front of me nearly scaring me senseless with its loud squawk and screech. As the squawking faded into the distance, I heard the telltale splash of a fish in shallow water. As I approached the corner riffle a saw it. A 30lb male Chinook, nickel bright and fresh from the ocean fining in water that did not fully cover it. As I approached it, the fish moved slowly into the deeper water under the alders on the far bank. The broad tail of the fish pushed water like a paddle as it moved, then the whole fish disappeared into the lightly tea colored depths.
I sit in amazement and wonder where the fish has been, and how old it was. Where did it go on its ocean voyage? More importantly how can I catch one? I had grown up fishing for trout but had never gone after salmon. I had heard the old timers talk at the local diner about catching these fish in the Big River but no one could ever take me.
Ever since the accident when Dad died, I have had to do most things on my own. I have always been a loner and no one really understood me like he did. Mom is great and loves me dearly; she just doesn’t have the time to take me down to the Big River. She has been working two jobs and sometimes three to support my sisters and me. She is always so tired……..
I sat and watched the pool for a few more minutes. Then three other small fish come into the tiny run. They didn’t look like salmon but were quite bright and appeared to be about 8-10 lbs. Maybe these were the ocean going rainbows the old timers talked about, steelhead I think they called them. They say that these steelhead come into the creek in the fall just like the salmon, usually after a little bit of rain.  I watched one of these smaller fish hold, suspended off the bottom under an old cedar stump that had become exposed on the far bank. The fading sun pierced through a hole in the ferns and lit the fish up in a surreal display, highlighting the dorsal and adipose fins of what I would later learn was a wild costal steelhead. I admired its long sleek and powerful body, its mouth slowly opening and closing.
Then with a flick of the tail it was gone, through the next riffle and into the next pool. I watched the undercurrent ripple to the shore and splash lightly on the gravel. The pool calmed again and I continued to walk down the creek for another hour, not seeing another fish.
It was getting late and I knew I would have to go back and find my bike. The creek bottom was growing dark as the alder, fir and cedars overhanging the creek were blocking the last rays of sun out of the west. I hurried back to my bike and got on it and flew towards home. Mom’s going to kill me I thought, I have 2 hours of chores to do and maybe an hour to do it in, that is if I make it home quick.
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If I cut through the field behind the church I could save some time but the Old Man might be there feeding the horses. Billy Talbot said the Old Man shot rock salt at him the last time he tried to cut through there. The Old Man doesn’t like trespassers………

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