Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Perfect Ending

This Memorial Day week-end was one I'll not soon forget.

I've written before about Kyle Kosovich and the boat we built over the past winter. This week-end, we took the boat down one of the Ozarks' excellent streams for its inaugural camp float. Loaded down with a four man tent, sleeping pads, a large cooler, an equally large cook-box and all the other paraphernalia (of course including a guitar) it takes to support a couple of fishermen for two days, we cruised easily down the small stream in our twenty footer.

I could go on to describe the day and night we had on the gravel bar fishing, relaxing, running limb lines through the night, etc., but suffice it to say that we had twenty four hours of paradise without a thought to the worries of the world.

But this isn't about that trip. This is a fish story that didn't take place until the next day when we went to visit Kyle's wife's folks. While Bethany was busy connecting with her family, Kyle and I stole down to the falls below the house, and therein lies the tale --

The sun had just emerged from the dripping clouds that had kept it hidden all morning. Kyle was hot to hit the water, but I was ready for a sit-down, so I took my guitar and found a comfortable seat on the rocks next to the roaring white rapids. Kyle sampled the waters on the home side of the river, but it wasn't long before he waded the swift water above the falls to work the further reaches.

As soon as he was safely across, I relaxed into my music, and left him to his fishing. I had just finished the first verse of Diving Duck - "The wind from the river's gonna blow my troubles away." when I heard him yell.

"Bob!" The rapids was so loud that I wasn't sure I'd heard anything, but I looked up to see Kyle's rod bent double. The fish turned and ran downstream, and even across the hundred yards between us I could see that line was stripping off Kyle's reel like lighting. The fish was already 30 feet or so downstream of where she'd been hooked.

I checked my watch; 11:25 am. It ought to be a rainbow at this time of day, I thought, but I was betting on a brown.

Kyle turned to face straight downstream then leapt off the falls into the pool below, running as fast as he could in thigh deep, rock bottomed swift water. Finally he regained enough line to turn the trout so she'd face back into the current. Then it was the fish's turn to leap.

She came straight up out of that blue-green water to dance in the sunlight on the tip of her tail and shake her golden head at whatever gods had done this to her. It's a picture stored in my memory for the rest of my life. Kyle was waist deep in the river, and from my angle I could see that the trout's nose was even with the top of his hat. I knew then that I had never before seen anyone hook a trout that big.

The fish fought hard and long, but finally succumbed to Kyle's skill and glided into the shallows at his feet -- 33 inches of German Brown Trout. Another glance at my wrist and I knew that he had fought the fish for twelve minutes.

Just another fish story? The picture provides the proof, and the tale will be told over many a campfire for years to come. Depending on who's telling it, it could be called Kyle's big brown, but if I'm doing the telling, it might be the day I sang up a big one.

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