June 30, 2018
Long summer days…. I love em!
There’s still plenty of daylight left to do things after work. Lucky for us, we live a short distance from the Umpqua River and it’s pretty easy to slip down to the river’s edge and absorb the last few hours of sunlight as you wet a line. There’s something magical about that transitional twilight period where temperatures start their descent and the fading rays of sunlight give their all with a brilliant burst of light that paints the hillsides with a golden cast. Having such an artistic display in front of you is spellbinding and is the time to capture those moments on your camera. Unless you’re being distracted by a bent fishing rod with a screaming reel telling you a fish is taking your lure to deeper water.
I made it a point to share that magical part of the day with my daughter Jessica this past week. I loaded the driftboat with fishing gear the night before and had everything all set to go for an after work fishing/dinner adventure the next day. No matter what the outcome, it was going to be a great time on the water. The scenery alone on the Umpqua River takes your breath away. Add to that, the last golden rays of daylight and the possibility of some biting fish… those are great odds for a solid daddy-daughter date.
Heading down river, we got to see and hear great blue herons squawking in their rookery settling in for an evening slumber. Strands of goslings and ducklings swam downstream away from us with their parents as we floated downriver. Black-tailed deer in their red colored coats slipped in and out of the tall grass-covered bank. Occasionally they’d glance back at us to confirm that we were still a safe distance away. We saw water trickling off some smooth rocks along the bank and just a few rocks ahead we spied a mink working the shallow water and rocky bank looking for a dinner meal. Wildlife activity along the river was definitely on the rise, it was that magical time. Another bend in the river and we’d be closing in on some good fishing water, at least it was last year.
We beached the boat and started walking with our gear. With each step, I hoped that the fish would be there and that they’d be hungry for our offerings. I brought a bunch of spinners, spoons, plugs and jigs. It was a pretty good buffet for smallmouth bass and I was confident there would be a fish willing to bite Jessica’s line. I surely hoped so.
Setting our gear down on the river bank, we prepared our rods with different lure selections. Choosing a lure to use is like placing your optimism at the end of your line and you cast your faith into the water hoping a fish is there to validate it. Jessie was first to wet her line and hurled a diving plug into the head of a deep pool. After several casts, she had no takers. Undeterred, she swapped out the plug for a black rooster tail spinner. First cast, in a very quiet and unassuming voice, she said, “Sorry, I got one”. I stopped my knot-tying to see what she was doing and saw that sassy grin on her face. I was happy that she hooked and landed a smallmouth bass and hoped there would be more. The apologies are her way of saying sorry I’m catching fish and you’re NOT.
I got out my dinner sandwich and told her she should probably eat something before it gets too late. She declined and said she would eat later at home. She was too busy looking for the next big fish. The apologies continued with each fish landed and by the end of our stay, she apologized 14 more times. Some of those were pretty good-sized fish. The sassy smiles were big and I could clearly see she was having a good time. The few times she put her rod down were to capture pictures of the beautiful river scenery or to unhook her fish.
“Dad, I think this is my new favorite spot”.
Thanks to that magical part of the day and some cooperative fish, I think she’s definitely hooked on fishing!