Fido’s funny about fishing.
He says he likes it, but he doesn’t know why.
“Me too, Fido,” I said. “There’s just something about taking some fishing gear with you on a hike or something. It means there might be a reward at the end of the day. Or something like that, maybe.”
“Or the middle of the day!”
It was the Wednesday before Fishmas, which just happens to be tomorrow. It’s a big deal for us.
Me, I was going through the toy closet, seeing what equipment I had left over from last year: fishing line for fly rod and spinning gear; reels, waders, backcountry cooking stuff, old plastic bait and whatever was leftover in the tackle box and in the pockets of my fishing jacket—flies for the mayfly hatch and so on.
I had to move some skis out of the way to get at the summer cache, including touring skis, tele skis, skating skis, snowshoes and alpine ski gear.
“What’s your favorite part?” I said.
“I like crawling up along the boulders in a freestone stream, quiet as I can be, then watching you toss a fly into a pool above,” Fido said.
“Well, that might happen, but not right away, my good man. The water’s too fast and high right now, and there’s still snow up there. For this weekend and the next few weeks, it’d probably be best to stick to the lakeshore, or fish from a boat on one of the lakes.”
“Do you remember the first time I got in a boat?” Fido grinned that dog-grin of his at the memory. “Hey hey hey hey!”
“How could I forget?”
I’m not so flush that I actually own a boat, and even if I had one, I don’t know where I’d put it during the winter months. So borrowing or renting is my way to go, rentals preferable in case of mishaps and whatnots.
We drove up to the Lakes Basin one fine summer day, and settled for a rental boat.
Fido was game all the way. He loves new adventures.
This one didn’t turn out well, though.
I lured him into the boat with a biscuit. Then things went horribly wrong.
“Whoa! Where’s the ground?” he demanded.
He was trying to get his balance, and he was having a hard time. It reminded me a little bit of the first time he rode on an elevator, but that’s another story.
“Help!” he yelled.
I tried soothing him with kind words and yet another biscuit, but he wasn’t having any of it. As we motored out into the lake, it seemed like the big red lug was just going to bail. Literally.
He would have jumped out, too, except he really doesn’t like water so much. It doesn’t freak him out, exactly, but he’s not anywhere near as enthusiastic about it as, say, a Labrador.
And so he suffered, shivering with his wild internal fears, his nerves frayed, and nowhere to go.
Since then, we’ve been out on the water plenty of times. He adjusted with practice and he’s pleasant company.
And yet still he prefers the shore, or, best of all, a freestone stream like the San Joaquin where he can wade in the shallow water, lap up a few gulps of that mountain elixir, get out of the way of the rapids by clambering up to the shore, and follow me upstream.
More times than not, there’s a fish in that stream, bound for the fry pan. I clean and cook the fish as soon as I land one. I baste it in a butter and tarragon/rosemary concoction, and afterward I find a place to doze off in the warm afternoon or evening sun.
“That’s when it’s best,” Fido said, drifting off into a fish reverie. Soon he was lying with his head on the floor, fast asleep, dreaming of Fishmas and its many promises.