Some things only Dad can teach you

Fishing for me is always an exercise in patience. Here in Skagway you have to be patient through the majority of the winter. When spring comes it takes patience to wait for that first day of nice weather. Once you’re at your fishing hole it takes a little patience to wait for that first bite, patience not to reel him in too fast and even more patience if he happens to get away. Now I’m no doctor but it sounds like I must have a lot of patience. The truth is I wasn’t born with it, nor did I grow into it. There is one man to thank though, and that is my dad.
I remember dear old dad buying me my first fishing rod. It was a 3/0 Penn bait caster with a level wind on a stout Penn boat rod with a roller guide at the tip. 40 pound test line and even a tackle box to go with it. This is a pretty big setup for a 10-year-old kid, but I had grown tired of using my grandmother’s equipment and I guess he thought it was time.
We were going to break it in on a road trip to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to fish in the clear water off the pier. Just my dad and me. No women allowed. I had my book of fishes with me and I was excited about the possibility of catching all these fish I had never seen.
“Dad, will we catch a barracuda?”
“I don’t know son.”
“How about a Blue Runner?”
“Maybe we’ll catch a sailfish. Whaddaya think dad?”
“We’ll see.”
If you’ve ever traveled six hours in the car with anyone who jabbers non-stop then you already know my dad is a patient man. He would never get upset or yell. However I remember a game he used to play with me called “Let’s see who can be quiet the longest.”
He always won.
At the pier I was not disappointed. The water was crystal clear. Fishermen lined the rails side by side while the Northern tourists sat on the beach in their bikinis and Bermuda shorts. Some of them swam in the water just out of cast’s reach. We walked out to the end of the pier and found a nice open spot where we would try our luck.
My fishing technique was simple. Cast. Reel in. Cast. Reel in. Cast. You get the picture.
It didn’t take long for my dad to catch a fish. A six-pound rainbow runner. As he reeled it up to the pier a school of barracuda were closing in on it fast. He whipped it up onto the pier just as the ‘cuda leaped out of the water in a last ditch effort to steal his prize.
I was impressed. I asked him how he caught all the fish when it seemed like I did so much more work.
“Patience son,” he said. “You’ve got to have patience.”
I was enlightened. I cast my rig, let it sink to the bottom and set my rod down on the edge of the pier determined to be “patient” and just let it sit.
My dad saw this turn of events and told me that while it’s good I’m trying to be more patient, I should hold onto my rod. After all, a large fish could bite and pull it right into the water. But, like every ten-year-old, I knew more than my dad and that’s something that could never happen.
I saw the whole thing. I was playing with the live shrimp in the bait bucket, giving them names, I think, when I glanced over and saw the tip of my rod twitching. I got excited and started to run toward it when it simply lifted into the air turned tip down over the rail and dove straight into the water. I stood on my toes and looked over the rail at the shiny new reel, which was glistening in 20 feet of clear blue water. I felt sick, a little light on my feet, I think I must have turned white because when I went to tell my dad, who was fishing down the pier a ways, he looked at me and said, “What did you do?”
I was getting a little teary eyed as my dad reeled in his rig, set it down, casually went to the tackle box and pulled out a large treble hook on a rope which we kept for landing fish too large to haul up onto the pier. He wrapped it around his arm and threw it out in the direction of the reel. Up it came, still shiny, glistening with drops of salt water.
This is a good way for a dad to become a hero.
That night we had the hotel restaurant cook up the fish we caught and serve them for dinner. The fish always seem sweeter when you catch them yourself. Or when your dad catches them, whatever the case may be.
My dad always kept it simple. The same fishing rod, the same reel, the same rig. No matter what he might be fishing for, he kept it simple, and he always caught the biggest fish. Every angler has a secret, and as Iíve gotten older I understand more and more the reasons for his success both in and out of the water.
“Patience son. You’ve got to have patience.”
Happy Fathers Day.

Fighting Chance
Summer is mere days away and visions of King Salmon dancing in your head can only mean one thing. That’s right, you’re crazy. Or it may mean that Skagway sport fishing is about to turn on full steam. If you’re skeptical then talk to Lee Rowan of Chilkoot Charters who caught the first King of the season at Glen’s Bite before June 1st. A 25 pounder no less.
What is his secret? Is it his 30 years of experience fishing these waters? Maybe. But if you talk to some of the other captains in town they say it’s just dumb luck.
Now a mystery hangs over this first fish of the season. A photograph of said fish was to appear with this article, but it was revealed that the camera Lee used to take the photo was in need of film. Sure unexplainable events can happen, look at the Bermuda Triangle. Or even more appropriately, Bigfoot, whose presence could have been proved on many occasions if only film had been in the camera.
Now before you start thinking the worst remember that the other captains on the dock saw the fish so it’s existence is not in question. Nor is its size, after all, fisherman never exaggerate. In fact Lee is confident that not only will he catch more fish in the future but also he will be investing in rolls of film of various speeds so that such an error does not prevent him from getting his picture in the paper yet again.
No matter what charter company you decide to use, going out trolling for Kings is the best angling excitement Skagway has to offer. Sure they get bigger Kings in other towns, but you are here and when the fishing is on there is no stopping them.
Most captains use slow trolled herring, apex spoons, or hoochies at significant depths with the aid of a downrigger. When the fish strike you have to set the hook strong and use the patience your dad gave you to take your time and let the fish run if he wants to, or reel up line fast if he starts heading toward you. Your captain knows the ropes so listen to his advice and your success is almost guaranteed.
Just remember to bring your own camera and film.