The day finally arrived. I was ready for the drive to the Deshka River with friends Nan and her husband Cam to meet Ben and Amber Allen at 5:00am. Ben and Amber are the proud owners of Millers Riverboat Service. We had been planning this excursion for quite some time. Eagerly anticipating a wonderful day in the sun, I reviewed my preparations. Fishing license in pocket. Check. Mosquito repellient. Check. Water bottle, rain gear and other just-in-case necessities. Check.
Before I could say, “fish on!” we were off, the motor on the boat purring; Nan, Cam and I chatting away with Ben and Amber as we meandered down the Deshka River to try our luck in the fishing holes that Ben knows so well.
Before long Cam got a big tug on his line…yes! A nice sized King was caught. “Ha! This is a sign of things to come for Nan and I! We’ll all get trophy sized Kings, I’m sure of it, and quickly, too!” I thought to myself after Cam’s fish was safely in the boat. Nan and I held our poles enthusiastically and waited. Before long I got a tug on my line, and Nan’s line followed suit. My line tugged again and…a fish! Oh – “it’s a Jack,” Ben told me. A small Salmon. A Jack Salmon is a young Chinook (King) Salmon. Normally, Chinook return to fresh water to spawn when they are 3 – 4 years old. A Jack refers to a Chinook that returns to fresh water 1 – 2 years earlier than normal, when it is still juvenile. It is a “little” King, much like a Jack is smaller than a King in a deck of playing cards. That’s okay – I kept it and still rejoiced. After all, a fish is a fish! I’m not proud! As the morning wore on I also got a small Rainbow Trout. Can’t we fish for twelve more hours? This is fun!
After some more tugs on Nan’s line and mine, the day’s fishing concluded with Ben filleting our fish for us. It was a wonderful time – what started out as rain developed into a warm sunny Alaska summer day. I wanted more! Now I understand why folks buy fishing boats or borrow them or bribe their friends who have boats or airplanes. I feel like a gambler in Vegas who has to try one more round at the blackjack table, one more quarter in the slot machine. Maybe the next cast will hear me shout, “fish on!”