The first king salmon of the season was caught on May 17 by Paul Winchester of Boston. It weighed 20 pounds and measured 31 inches. He was on board the Choctaw Lady with his wife Leann. Captain Mike Hardy said they saw a pod of orcas heading in their direction, and the fish hit the line just ahead of them. Mike Hardy

Fishing time


There is an old myth about a man with two faces. One of the faces looks forward while the other looks behind. Some say it is representative of man’s nature to reflect on the past and look toward the future simultaneously. Whether you call it conflict, duality, or balance there is no arguing that you can’t have one without the other.

Somewhere between the present and the past is now, and while we have no choice but to live in the moment it’s a place where our focus seldom lies. We dwell on the past, get lost in our memories, revel in our triumphs, and wallow in our regret. Our future is schedules, plans, and goals built around optimism, worry, and fear.

There is a lot to be said for living in the moment, and while it’s not an easy place to find it is the only place where time has no bearing. It is a place where past and future comes together for an intangible moment, a place you could never willingly seek out because its identification makes it cease to exist.

If you’ve ever spent time within that state of mind then you have experienced the slipping away of hours and minutes. You may have even said of yourself at one time or another, “I was lost in the moment,” and if you have, you know it’s a pretty fantastic place to be.

I’ve done my share of losing track of time over the years. It has always been a byproduct of fishing, and it has often gotten me into a lot of hot water with people who see the sport as merely the act of attempting to catch fish.

Especially when you have dinner plans for 5 p.m. and the fish start biting at 4:30.

The act of casting and reeling can be rewarding, but this is merely the method of finding the balance necessary to entertain a fish’s desire to strike. You choose a lure based on your past experience, and then apply your knowledge of the fish, the water, and the weather conditions. You level this knowledge with anticipation, keeping your senses on edge, scanning the water for ripples, keeping your fingertips nimble to feel the softest of tugs.

As knowledge and anticipation find harmony, so come the fish. Even those with a passive interest in fishing often find that everything else slips away when a fish strikes hard and the rod suddenly discovers its purpose. No two fish are alike and no two fights are alike, but it is always a precarious struggle between two living things to offset their sudden equilibrium.

All of which is a pretty complicated way of saying catching fish is a whole lot of fun, and everyone knows that time flies when you’re having it.

You can call it “fishing time,” and it is a phenomenon whereby a fisherman seems to travel forward in time at an alarming and unknown rate. Side effects are missed appointments, being late for work, and angry wives and girlfriends.

Last weekend I went trout fishing with a buddy. It was one of those perfect days where the blue of the sky seems to emanate from within your chest. The water was glass and reflected the mint-green young leaves just starting to unfold along their branches. Small ripples formed when our lures landed with a plop, and the line from our reels lazily floated down upon the surface. There it lay motionless for a moment before slowly being pulled toward the bottom.

We made maybe a dozen casts before we both hooked up at almost the exact same moment. Two spring lake trout were soon on shore, and my friend said it best when he stated, “Now it doesn’t matter what happens the rest of the day.”

About an hour later I was casting in almost the same spot, happy to have the warm sun on my face even though the bite had tapered off. I decided to let my lure sink to the bottom, thinking the fish might have gone deep in the rising heat.

When the lure stopped I pulled up firmly and began to reel. There was tension in the rod and I figured I was stuck on the bottom. I pulled hard and whatever the lure was stuck upon decided to give way. It felt like dead weight so I naturally assumed I was reeling in the dreaded stick fish, a species common in waters throughout the world.

I had reeled in about two-thirds of the way when the rod seemed to lurch forward. I had little doubt this was my imagination, because the largest trout I had ever pulled from this spot barely reached three pounds and could never put that much tension on the gear. When the lure should have been within sight, I repositioned myself to see into the water with the aid of my polarized sunglasses.

There on the other end of the line was a lake trout that would easily top six pounds if not seven.

“Holy crap, that’s a fish!” I shouted.

It must have heard me because it immediately began to twist and turn, sending spastic vibrations up the line, through the rod, and into my suddenly tensing body.

That was all it took. I saw the fish come loose and swim back into the deep water.

“No matter,” I thought. “I’ll get him next time.” And on the very next cast I hooked up again only to have the exact same thing happen, with one slight difference. This time the fish took a moment to jump fully out of the water in an obvious attempt to humiliate me in front of my fishing buddy.

Two fish, two fights.

Fish - 2, Fisherman - 0.

No, wait. Fishermen 2. I forgot about the ones we already landed, and when my buddy caught his second trout of the day we were clear winners, so we traveled to Carcross to try our luck at catching grayling.

In Carcross the fish were totally humiliated in an embarrassing display that would lead to a great deal of fried grayling and eggs for breakfast in the coming days.

Somewhere along the way I got on fishing time and lost track of regular time. I had promised we would be home by 1 p.m., and even though my brain said it was 10 a.m., my buddy’s wristwatch said it was noon. This kind of thing always seems to happen no matter how good my intentions are. I suppose I could carry a watch, but where’s the fun in that? If the fish are biting what difference does it make if you end up being a few hours late.

It’s the price you pay for a little transcendent fishing.