In my angling life I've been able to travel and fish many places through out the Pacific northwest. I have not been a world traveler like many of you have but here in my little corner of the world I've wet many a line over thirty five years of fishing and fished many rivers and small creeks.
Through those thirty five years I've met a lot of people, mostly anglers, who have made for an interesting journey through those years. Some nice and some not so nice but it's always been entertaining none the less.
I would like to share a few with you.
There was the old gentleman searching for native American artifacts along the upper Kilchis river that comes to mind.
He said he had found many relics of the indigenous tribes that once inhabited the area and he wanted to open a museum to display his relics.
He said the best time to find arrowheads and other stone tools was right after a period of high water.
He said he never, in all his many decades along the Kilchis river, paid much attention to the once numerous salmon.
Then there was "Joe" who owned property along that same Kilchis river. My fishing partner and I had floated the river that day and we pulled up onto this likely looking salmon hole.
Joe shows up, a little irate, and tells us that this was private property. We immediately apologized and assure him that we will leave right then and there.
Maybe Joe was testing us but his whole demeanor changed and he complimented us on our politeness. Joe said we could fish there anytime as he chatted with us for a while and wistfully recalled the salmon runs from the past.
Not all of the people I've met along the river have been...well "people"
There was a pair of Labrador Retrievers that I would swear were the biggest con-artists I've met.
They would bark and generally raise hell with you as you floated by but it was all a ploy to get part of your lunch! We gave them cookies and chips and suddenly they were our best friends and would follow us down the river for at least a half mile wanting to get petted or get some more treats.
Then there was the ancient Siberian Husky that would search the bank for anything edible. Since this was a salmon hole there would be a lot of bait scraps to be had and this old boy ate it all whether it be old sand shrimp or discarded salmon cured roe. He was a regular visitor every time I fished this spot for quite a few years. I was later to find out he had died of old age and I still think of him any time I'm passing through that salmon hole or fly fishing it for trout.
I've gotten many a history lesson from the elderly gents that I chat with as they recall the "old" days and the great salmon and steelhead runs of the 40's or 50's. I wonder what how many of them still fish or are still around. One old fellow told me the smell of my pipe reminded him of his father.
Each of those rivers and each fishing spot along those rivers have a story for me and when I am there I cannot help but remember them and the people I have met there. Most are pleasant and friendly but some are not.
I've had a few unpleasant encounters but they always stayed verbal and taught me that fishing is something more to some people than a relaxing day on the stream. I've learned that if I encounter someone that does not want to chat or share fishing theories then it is best to just move on with a pleasant "Have a good one" as we part.
Over the year the paths of a river change somewhat due to floods and the like and so to do the folks you meet. I would hope that sometime, somewhere, someone will think of me as that friendly old guy that smoked a pipe and maybe made their day on the river a more pleasant one.