Fishing Green: Last Season Aboard the Nerka
There’s something about last summer that I never told you.
Remember this August post, when I shared little glimpses into the first few days of our king salmon opening? And one of those glimpses was that Joel’s hands were giving him terrible, knuckles-of-ground-up-glass grief? And that you never heard what happened next, despite a cliffhanger ending and an assurance that I’d pick up the story on a later date?
Sorry about that, friends.
We did indeed claw our way through that nine day king opening. Back in Sitka, Joel went to the doctor, got some meds that didn’t sit too well with either of us. Over the following 15 day coho trip, every day – every hour – involved a reassessment of his well-being and what we should do, waffling between the confident “I feel good today, I think I’m fine,” to the cautionary “What if we really land on ‘em in the next king opening?”
You know that Joel and I are pretty attached to having the Nerka to ourselves. (And Bear, of course.) Optimistically “cozy” for the two of us, I can’t imagine life in the tiny cabin’s earlier incarnation: husband, wife, two energetic little kids, deckhand. When we finally admitted that we might have to hire a third person, we talked not about which dream troll deckhands we knew – they were all taken, anyway – but who we’d be willing to live with.
“What about Betsy?” one of us said.
“Yes!” the other enthused. That our friend Betsy had never been trolling seemed completely irrelevant. We knew her as an uber-competent, hard-working, conscientious, full-hearted and utterly delightful human – who also happened to be a professionally trained, fantastic cook.
We were both convinced. But Betsy and her partner Devon run a fuel tank cleaning business. How could she go fishing?
Trolling into a pocket of cell service, we called to ask, just in case.
Joel’s hurt? Sure, we’ll make it work.
Receiving such selfless love can be blinding. How did we get so lucky to have friends like these?
I didn’t tell you any of this at the time because I’m bad about continuing a storyline I wanted you to hear it from a different perspective. As a fisherman and a writer who writes about being a fisherman, I think a lot about how to translate experiences that are second nature to me, in ways that invite Hooked’s many landlocked readers into a foreign world. In some instances, like this unfinished business from last summer, I’m not the best person for the task.
Luckily, Betsy is a great storyteller, and just posted a reflection on her time aboard the Nerka. I’m grateful for her time aboard and her willingness to relive it all on the page, and am delighted to share it with you now. Enjoy this snippet, with link to the full read below:
A fine spray of salt sea and fresh rain misted my face as I retched carrot cake-flavored Clif bar over the rail. Remorse washed through me. Not shame, though the shame of being so seasick as to necessitate puking over the rail was there, too; but guilt. I had managed to eat two things that day: an English muffin with honey and butter, and that Clif bar. It wasn’t the waste of food that made me feel guilty, either, but rather the simple fact that I had mentioned that carrot cake was my favorite flavor of Clif bar while Tele and I were shopping to stock the boat for a week or two, and Tele had generously bought an entire case of them for all of us to share. And I was pretty certain I was the only one on board who felt that way toward that particular flavor. Now, given my fairly limited adult history of puking, I was pretty certain that I would not be capable of stomaching carrot cake Clif Bars for a while. Maybe years…
I wonder, friends… What helps you connect with someone/something that’s foreign to you? Are there particular examples (relationships, books, movies, conversations) that have helped you understand or identify with something otherwise outside your own life experience?