The Late April Saturday We Stayed Home

Washington’s fishing season got off to a soggy start that turned windy by midday, but neither stopped tens of thousands of anglers from enjoying the ceremonial opener at lakes across the Evergreen State — not to mention catch their own dinner.

Among the best “Fishmas Day” lakes were …

Well, that’s what I might have written this afternoon if this year had been like every other in living memory.

But it’s not.

Covid-19 led Governor Inslee to shut down fishing in Washington in late March as part of his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, which was subsequently extended until at least May 4 and included hunting.

That’s led to huge blowback, particularly for WDFW, which regulates both activities and is stuck in the middle.

Following last Saturday’s angler protest in Tri-Cities, more occurred today in Moses Lake and Wenatchee, and another is planned tomorrow in Seattle.

ANGLERS ASK GOVERNOR INSLEE TO “LET US HUNT AND FISH” AT THE APPROACH TO THE GEORGE SELLAR BRIDGE IN WENATCHEE THIS MORNING. (JOHN KRUSE, NORTHWESTERN OUTDOORS RADIO)

Yet as I write these words it does sound like we are getting closer to an initial reopener of some fishing.

The watch word is to expect a careful turn-of-the-dial approach instead of the flip of a light switch. That latter is just not possible given local concerns and the fact some fisheries need intensive monitoring because of ESA and/or quota issues.

In the meanwhile, as millions of trout are being stocked in preparation of an eventual go-ahead, it’s hard not to think about what might have been had this been a normal fourth Saturday in April.

Happy kids, proud parents and grandparents, squeals of delight echoing around lakes, jumping rainbows, first catches, ospreys fishing too, forgotten drain plugs, lost lures, derby winners, hefty stringers, bacon-wrapped ‘bows broiling in the oven, traditions passed down and maintained over generations.

Somewhere in the afternoon, WDFW’s Steve Caromile would have sent out a roundup of reports from biologists and others who checked in on the action at dozens upon dozens of lakes across Washington.

“Everyone in good humor, fishing is good, light rain and wind,” reads one report from 2019’s edition.

You don’t know what you’ve lost till it’s gone.

Just a day after Washington’s initial two-week angling closure began, my youngest son pulled the most amazing fishing soliloquy out of thin air.

Kiran was over on the couch, working on a makeshift elementary assignment that happened to focus on fish, when he turned to me and began speaking in a slow, quiet, almost poetic way.

“I want to go fishing again.
I want to go to Curlew.
I want to catch those tiny fish.
What were they called, Daddy?”
[“Yellow perch, son.”]
“I was good at it.
I caught nine.
And you only caught three.
I want to go fishing again, Daddy.”

So do we all, Kiran, and we’ll get there soon enough.

In the meanwhile, here are some photos I cherish all the more given these hard times that may have robbed us of one April opener, but will never crush our spirits as sportsmen.

ONE YEAR, THE EVENING BEFORE THE OPENER THE BOYS WANTED TO MAKE A LURE OUT OF A ZIPPER, SO I GOT OUT MY TACKLE BOX FOR COMPONENTS … (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
RIVER DANGLES HIS CREATION NEAR HIS BROTHER KIRAN’S MOUTH. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
CAN’T SAY THAT RIVER’S “SUPER CATCHER” CAUGHT ANYTHING … (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
… BUT HE LANDED THIS NICE RAINBOW AND A LONG-RUNNING MODELING CAREER IN A DICK NITE AD. STILL ONE OF MY FAVORITES. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
I WARNED THEM NOT TO BRING BANANAS … BUT DID THEY LISTEN? NOOOOOOOOO. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
FOR AWHILE I TRIED TO BE ALL BUSINESS ON THE WATER — I’LL DO THE ROWING, THE BAITING, THE CASTING … BUT SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA LET THE KIDS HAVE FUN AND SPIN THE BOAT AROUND A TIME OR 12. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
A LOT OF OUR FISHING HAS BEEN DONE ON GREEN LAKE, A YEAR-ROUND WATER THAT IS STOCKED IN SPRING. BOAT RENTALS MAKE IT EASY TO TAKE THE BOYS OUT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
RIVER IS LESS INTERESTED IN FISHING THESE DAYS, BUT I WAS SO PROUD ONE TIME WHEN HE MADE HIMSELF A ROD OUT OF A PLANT STALK, STRUNG SOME STRING OFF OF IT AND TRIED TO TEMPT BASS OUT FROM UNDERNEATH A DOCK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
I FOUND MYSELF DRILLING BACK THROUGH FACEBOOK PICS IN SEARCH OF THIS ONE. IT’S JUST PREPOSTEROUS HOW FAST TIME FLIES WITH KIDS. RIVER AND THE BROTHERS BROOKS PUT TOGETHER THIS CLEAR LAKE (PIERCE COUNTY) STRINGER EIGHT YEARS AGO — AND IT DOESN’T SEEM LIKE HALF THAT. WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?
WHAT CAN I SAY? FISHING PUTS A SKIP IN YOUR STEP YOUNG OR OLD. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
I’VE GOT A WEEKEND TO-DO LIST THAT STILL FEELS LIKE A MILE LONG EVEN AFTER KNOCKING OFF A FEW ITEMS THIS MORNING, SO THIS WILL HAVE TO DO AS A WRAP-UP — THE DRAWING KIRAN MADE ONE YEAR BEFORE THE OPENER OF HE, RIVER, MAMA AND DADDY FISHING. (KIRAN WALGAMOTT)