Fishing on the Tuluksak River

by Brad Cole

I was standing with wading boots on in the grassy shallows of the Tuluksak River casting a line out about 20 feet. The cool flowing waters and late afternoon breeze felt refreshing.

The wind was stirring up the waves across the river’s shimmering surface which was reflecting the blues of the sky, whites from the clouds, brownish gray from the watery depths.

The fishing line whistled softly in the wind as I searched the waters for something that will bite. A distant fish jumps and splashed back into the river creating rolling waves that circled outwardly. A large hawk floated watchfully in the sky, circled calmly and disappeared.

Hoping for a silver salmon I cast my line again and again into the chilly waters only to find clumps of river grass hanging off the sharp lure.

Suddenly a large fish bit the hook, leaped and struggled in the splashing water while I reeled it back to the bank. I saw it twist and turn, fighting desperately and then my line broke.

The salmon disappeared back into the river.

What a beautiful creature I thought, and then a feeling of disappointment struck me.

Deciding to quit I waded carefully through the thick grass to the forested bank. The afternoon breeze curled comfortably about me and I saw the hawk once again circling in the sky.

I love the freedom that I feel out here on the river, I thought. It is a freedom that opens the mind to the deeper levels of spirit that holds so much of life and death and the richness of Nature’s wisdom.

I followed a trail through the woods to return home and settled comfortably into my evening chair, remembering the fish that got away and how beautiful it looked jumping out of the water.

Such wild creatures inspire me with their purity, strength and freedom. In the holy darkness that follows evening I sat searching the river of my mind for a spirit of the salmon, one that will bite the shiny hook within my soul.

The richness of its meat must be like the richness of its spirit, I wondered. But I feared that before I could fully grasp its bountiful wisdom the fish will break free of my hold on it and disappear beneath the cool flowing waters of my life.