At the Mercy of Time and Tide

By , August 13, 2011

Earlier this week I fished for salmon from the boundary rock, a flat topped, terraced beach rock that stands at the point our northern boundary meets the next neighbor’s southern line. The fish have been biting there lately, so I went out before the high tide to see if I could catch dinner.

When I found my spot, I laid out my gear on a small shelf of rock behind me: fish knife, small tackle box, and landing net.

The Alaska Marine Highway ferry went by, which meant I had to watch for her wake. It turned out to be a lot bigger than I’d estimated. I leaped for safety to the top of the rock, but my knife and tackle box washed away.

I saw this as a minor catastrophe. The small tackle box contained several brand new lures, as well as weights and survival gear, and some favorite old lures. I had bought the fish knife a few years ago, and had come to rely on its heavier, stiffer butchering blade. I needed my stuff back.I saw that I had another hour till high tide. It would be fairly low, and the following low tide rather high. This meant that the current would likely not be strong enough to carry my gear away, but that it would take longer for anything to be uncovered. Silt from the Katzehin River across the fjord clouded the water, so I couldn’t see the gear. I decided to wait.

I continued to fish for a while, then returned briefly to the cabin for gear to collect biofilter. The grass is good on that beach, so I could work while keeping an eye on the water level.

Eventually, the tide dropped below where it had been when the wake hit, and I returned to fishing. I soon saw my knife in a cleft in the rock, and retrieved it. An hour later I could make out the dim outline of the tackle box.

I kept an eye on where I thought the box lay on a slope in about 3 feet of water, and saw packaged lures suddenly pop up and begin to float away. I scooped them up in the landing net, then pressed the net down into the water about where I thought the box was, to prevent it from being washed away. I gave that almost immediately and pulled in the net. The tackle box came with it, snagged in the mesh. It lay open, but upright. The lures and other gear remained safely inside.

I lost two hook guards. Not bad at all, really. I took everything home and washed it in hot, fresh water, and dried it for the next fishing adventure.

Tonight is the night of the full moon. If you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, it’s time to read Sturgeon Moon—The Death of Meriwether Lewis. I know you might think I skipped one, but don’t worry, we’ll circle back and pick it up at the last quarter moon later this month.

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