By Pat Hoglund, SSJ Editor
I can still recall the look on Jay Daly’s face when he took me and my son Peter fishing. Several years ago—when Peter was a mere lad—we were fishing the lower Columbia for upriver brights. The run was projected to be strong, and it proved to be a good season. But as with fishing, there are no guarantees.
Peter’s rod buckled, he sprung from his seat, and took hold of the rod. He was hooked up with a nice chinook. He was still young, and inexperienced with fighting a salmon. The fish ran, and ran, and ran. And then it stopped running. Until it started again. Only this time a sea lion had it in its mouth, and began thrashing it to pieces. Minutes later Peter reeled in his line, flasher, and spinner. The fish was gone, stolen like a thief in the night. I looked at Jay, and he gave me an, “Oh well” look. Peter was confused and mad.
“Let’s get another one,” Jay said.
Which is exactly what we did. An hour later, Peter’s rod throbbed against the weight a fish and the rod holder. He wrestled it free and started fighting the fish. This time both Jay and I emphasized the importance of quickly bringing it to the boat. In a matter of seconds, line from the reel started screaming downriver. Another sea lion made short work of it and Peter’s line went limp. He reeled for all his might, but when it got close to the boat, Jay netted only the head of the salmon, hooks still embedded in the mouth.
Jay, owner of Fight Club Fishing, looked at me with a look that said, “You gotta be kidding me.” I could tell he was frustrated, but he maintained calm and positive. Deep down I knew he was stewing. Even though Peter and I drove home with a couple fish in the cooler, my 12-year-old son was upset with the sea lions. Rightfully so.
“You know dad,” he said, “I sure like Jay. I could tell he was frustrated after the second fish, but he didn’t even get mad. He just acted like nothing happened. I like that about him.” A boy beyond his years.
Fast forward to this past September. I asked Jay to take my daughter, and five of her besties, fishing. There were three boys—Chris Schuver, Kimo Hiu and Kalvin Souders—and my daughter and her pal Abbie Cooper. It was a shit-show waiting to happen. A buddy of mine who knew the situation laughed and said, “Tell Jay I hope he gets a triple-header.” The thought made me cringe.
When we arrived at the boat, Jay explained what was about to unfold. He went over his safety speech, explained how we were going to fish, showed them how to engage and disengage the reels, how to let out the flashers and bait (bait first, flashers second, lead balls third) so they wouldn’t get tangled on the drop, gave us each a PFD, and then Jay asked who in the boat has caught a salmon before. My daughter Mary Kate and Abbie raised their hand. The boys, all football players at Central Catholic High School, sheepishly stared at each other.
Prior to leaving, four out of five of them were already on their cell phones. Weird, right?
“OK, I want to remind you that today is a day that we’re going to put our phones away,” Jay said. “I want you focused on the rods, and paying attention to the depth. We good with that?”
No one answered. Jay just smiled.
We eventually motored out of the West Mooring Basin and into the Columbia River.
As we made our first pass Abbie hooked the day’s first salmon. Her dad’s love of fishing taught her well.
As the day wore on, the phones started to appear. They just couldn’t help themselves. They checked Instagram, Snap Chatted, sent texts to who knows who, and took photos. Then came Chris’s turn. Of course, he was on his phone when the fish grabbed his anchovy. He was slow to the rod, so I jumped up and told him to get off his #@*#ing phone. He’s one of my daughter’s best friends, so I felt comfortable barking at him like he was my son. Jay just smiled.
The next three bites came on Kimo’s rod. Twice he was sleeping, and the other time he was on his phone. How he was able to land all three is beyond me. The one hatchery fish he hooked was 12 pounds, and Kimo struggled to put his phone into his pocket and had difficulty pulling the rod from the holder. And by the hair of his chinny chin-chin Jay was able to slide the net under the fish as the hooks pulled free. Jay just smiled.
We ended up landing nine coho, and each one was a Chinese fire drill. Throughout it all, Jay kept his composure, rolled with the punches, and smiled.
When we got home, Mary Kate commented how nice Jay was, but most all of how patient he was. I couldn’t agree more.