Gripped By Kings

A grey submarine breached in the middle of The Dean; a Cold War relic tethered to me by a thin strand of Dacron, showing itself only for a moment as it headed out to sea. It was late July and most of the Kings had already entered the system.  Anglers crazy enough to target them had come and gone. By mid-summer King Salmon are seen as a distraction from the steelhead that make this river the stuff of legend.

As soon as I hooked up I palmed my reel and figured to put some heat to him. The reel spun like a buzz saw. The handle barely paused as it collided with my knuckles, slashing them open instantly.  Blood dripping down my fingers, a huge grin spread across my face. My inexperience exposed, this was more than I could have hoped for.

Two hundred yards of backing was disappearing quickly. Growing up in Montana, I had roped bulls and stopped them with less. To put it bluntly I was outmatched. Nearly spooled, we gave chase in the boat and accompanied the King on his journey toward the ocean. Backing down with the motor we attempted to gain some ground while still applying pressure. Twenty minutes and a half-mile of river later we officially lost.

I couldn’t help but want more. The Kings’ broad, slate-colored sides arching out of the water wouldn’t leave my mind. I began seeking them out. Even if that meant finding swirling boils where stale Kings were rolling and it would be difficult to swing anything through. For some reason they had me in their grip.

Originally published by Deneki Outdoors.

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