A Memorable Place In the middle of a fish feeding...


May 26, 2002|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

In the middle of a fish feeding frenzy

By Scott Shindell


At 8:20 p.m., our guide said, "Get ready, here it comes."

I looked at the south fork of Idaho's Snake River from where I stood in the bow of the fishing boat. Evening was near, and the river and the air seemed ripe, as if something were about to burst. I turned and looked at our guide. His hands rested in his lap, and the oars jutted out above the river like wings.

An insect hit my chin, and then the river exploded -- a cloud of mayflies rose from the water, swallows and bats swooped down upon them and scores of hungry trout churned the water.

Swarms of insects pummeled me, blinded me, flew up my nose, into my mouth. I heard my brother laugh from the stern, probably in amazement. When I heard him cursing and spitting mayflies a moment later, I wanted to laugh as well, but I clamped my mouth shut.

Our fishing guide, meanwhile, was calm and busy keeping the boat within casting distance of the bank. He'd seen this before.

"You see that bush on the right," he said. "Cast right into it."

I flicked an artificial grasshopper through the air. It dropped about 8 inches from the bank.

"Close enough," the guide said.

Bang! The line stirred. Silver flashed against the dark water as the fish rolled and dived with my hopper. I jerked the rod, and he was hooked. "Fish on!" I hollered.

The fish pulled and ran like liquid muscle. I could have savored the fight, but the river was churning and I was in my own feeding frenzy, so I just hauled him in. When I had the fish by the boat, I dipped my hands in the water and cradled him -- a cutthroat trout, about 17 inches long, vibrant and angry.

I took a good look, pulled the hook out and let him go. Then I reeled up the line that had pooled at my feet and cast again (a graceless heave, but good enough). The hopper landed and then bang! "Fish on!"

The next 10 minutes were a blur -- a fish every time I cast, but just for 10 minutes. As it grew dark, the mayflies disappeared and the surface of the river grew calm.

I cast one last time. The hopper disappeared into the night, landing somewhere between the boat and the bank. I waited. Nothing. It was over.

When I reeled in my line, the hopper looked as if it had been tossed it into a blender -- one leg was gone, the other stuck straight out, and a yellow thread dangled from the eye of the hook.

I sat down, and, because I couldn't see much, I listened. The river was quiet, gurgling gently as it would for the rest of the night, until dawn, when we would be back again.

Scott Shindell lives in Pikesville.

My Best Shot

The essence of Canada

John Robinson, Grasonville

I took this photo of Spirit Island and Maligne Lake in the Canadian Rockies on a weeklong trip with my wife, Marie, to celebrate her 50th birthday and our 30th wedding anniversary. The trip was spectacular, and to us this picture captures Canada -- its beautiful mountains, water and trees.

Readers Recommend

Lichfield, England

Inga Caridad Rohe, Westminster

I travel often to the United Kingdom and in the past have enjoyed the Lichfield Cathedral (above), which counts St. Mary and St. Chad as its patrons. The town of Lichfield, near the city of Birmingham, is quaint and perfectly located in the country's Midlands. It is a good place to spend a quiet afternoon or to have lunch or tea. Adventurous travelers can get to Scotland or London in only a few hours.

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