Three hours after we’d arrived at the river, I’d cast my shoulder out, my right forearm was intermittently tingly from a pinched nerve and not a single salmon had bitten.
In their boredom, my sons had gone from digging winter burrows for critters, to developing the Upper Duwamish Amusement Park Authority’s brand-new Mud Slide Ride.
They were happily careening into the water as I sourly hucked jigs and lures at splashing fish.
I bowed my head.
For the second weekend in a row.
Pinks — they’re supposed to be highly catchable, a GREAT fish for getting kiddos into the sport of fishing.
Nobody consulted the pinks.
Early the morning before, a late-arriving wave of humpies had ridden the incoming tide up the Duwamish right into the path of my pink jig.
It was carnage.
In just 45 minutes before work, I was unstoppable — a half-dozen hook-ups, five to the beach, a fantastic start to Friday.
I raved about it to coworkers, friends and my wife.
And in it I saw possible redemption for the previous Saturday’s skunking on the Sky: Then, I’d hauled the boys out to my money spot, with the money flows and water clarity, and cast my money lures … and proceeded to watch other people cash in on the big run of pinks.
The only salmon the boys saw up close that day were those being kept alive in a rocky moat by a couple down the bank.
When are WE going to catch one, Daddy? they asked.
I was not pleasant on the drive home or the rest of that afternoon.
Especially after the kid at the Thrashers Corner feed store, where we’d stopped to pick up a bale of straw, regaled me with tales of limits being caught way upstream at Sultan.
Indeed, salmon move on.
Not that I ever seem to learn that lesson. The Duwamish where I’d held my clinic in front of a fellow angler just the day before was dead when River, Kiran and I showed up for this Saturday’s planned wailing.
Fortunately, they’d insisted on loading their school backpacks with “supplies,” which included:
* One of my 100-foot ropes, which they tied to a cottonwood and rappelled around the bank;
* My binoculars for birdwatching, though no kingfishers, gulls, geese or tweety birds were watched through them;
* Several school snacks snuck out of Mama’s kitchen;
* Various other items.
When the food was gone and the gear quit being fun, they borrowed my pliers, first to worry blackberries and then as digging implements for making apartments for mice, voles, rats, etc.
To test out how well the soil drained, they made some gutters and then filled up an empty beer bottle with river water and poured it over the abodes.
After about 20 bottle-emptyings, the ground was pretty moist, and it was about then that River discovered how nice and slick it had become.
Construction of Rodentiaburg was quickly halted in favor of testing the new mud slide.
So maybe it wasn’t a failure after all.
I remember my sisters and I going out fishing on the Sultan River with my dad when we were little.
I don’t recall Dad actually ever hooking anything — except that one time with Uncle Doug when they lost the big steelhead — but we had plenty of fun clambering around the riprap bank by the old horse-racing track near the end of Trout Farm Road.
In some way it probably helped lead me to where I am today.
Yeah, I didn’t succeed in putting my sons into fish, but with how much fun they had on the river, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get ’em back out sometime soon.
If the fish bite, great; if not, oh well. Someday they will, and in the meanwhile, there’s mud.