Long, narrow shadows were creeping across the final days of salmon season like fingers of spilled ink spreading over a page. The bank-side cottonwoods, awash in yellow foliage but a week ago were now mostly bare and their branches shivered in a northerly wind. The end was near and I wished I could will it to speed up.
I had been grinding it out since the middle of June and the salad days were long since passed.
The big schools of salmon that had delighted us for so many weeks were well upriver, either dead and picked clean by stream-side scavengers or in the last throws of spawning. Fresh, shiny kings were few and far between and my last charters of the year hadn’t gone extremely well from a fish in the boat perspective.
On the last day of the season, I had two very excited fellows in my boat – a father and his young son, both of whom had never been salmon fishing before. Their almost giddy enthusiasm contrasted loudly with the sleep-deprived haze in which I was slowly shuffling like so many B-movie zombies. Without a day off in five weeks, I was so far gone that I secretly loathed them for their zeal. How could they be so happy? Didn’t they know it was a stupid idea to come out so late in the season when there were no fish around? Weren’t they aware of how rude it was to prolong a guy’s agony for one more day? Why couldn’t they just go home and leave a weary, grumpy guide alone?
Apparently, I had lost the entire essence of fishing and forgotten why I originally started doing the job I do.