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Picture of the Day
September 3, 2021

My plan was: help Sarah set up at Tukwila mural, then ride changing tide up and back in kayak borrowed from oldtimer neighbor Bob, who also lent rod and reel for me to try my luck but it was too late to get up to speed on license, tackle, and bait so I left it behind. But as fate decreed, I went home with a fish anyway, iced down in black plastic garbage bag.
I put in around 3, clamped timelapse camera to cockpit rim hoping to catch a salmon mid-leap, based on how high they were breaching. As I pushed off grassy bank a fisherman joked, "Way they're jumping one might land in your boat!" I said I'd been thinking the same thing, even wrote a story about it a while back. Hadn't gotten far, paused to try reviving inoperative camera BAM! a large scaly mass of flashing muscular flesh broke the surface with an aerial pirouette inches from my bow; another one that got away. I took it easy, no goal, no hurry, let the last nudge of rising tide carry me inward a few beats closer to the heart of the continent, paddling, drifting, sampling blackberries from an unpicked riverbank abundance, so forlorn they were starting to ferment. Fishers were evenly spaced on the high footbridge and I paddled softly, skirted their lines by hugging far left side. The tide went slack and so did I, locomoted in slow motion up past the community center, where I saw the death grin of a salmon, ghostly beneath the surface. After all that
effort to struggle upstream it was now being gently tugged back to sea, along with me.
The tide had turned.

Bob reckons the drought dried up some of the salmon home runs, so they're stuck circling lower river, easy pickings for raptors, legit fishers, and poachers alike. Lazily paddling downstream, re-approaching the footbridge, again I went left, closer this time to some lines and I heard a shout from above as I passed under. I thought I was getting yelled at, but it was a plea and I turned back and grabbed his line to try to free a bottom snag. I pulled myself along it until it pointed straight down, then worked it in all directions. Something gave way. "Well, either I just broke it or it's coming up..." And there it was, a flashy pink wiggler! "I buy you a beer!""That's alright," I replied, meaning I didn't ever want to drink again, but how could he know that? The fish kept jumping all around me, more than ever as twilight approached. Tried my best to catch them with a quick shutter finger but the camera was too slow to freeze them mid-air. I watched a guy net one into his boat and he humble-bragged about how tricky it was using underrated test. When I pulled onto the bank where I'd put in, the same fisherman was still at it and his friend Fred offered me a fish. I gladly accepted.  *v*