Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
March 31st, 2003

The Salmon Killers - Part 8
Bob Lawless, Port Ludlow, WA

Cheating Death

Each day was like no other. The sea was ever changing, sometimes flat calm without even a ripple, barely any surf when she struck the shore. Then I have seen terrible oceans, waves as high as buildings, waves called buffaloes because of the white on their backs suggested the great humps of the bison stampeding, as it were, in great herds, charging across the ocean's surface, daring any boat, except the very largest, to fall before them. They would be crushed beneath their feet, trampled to death, broken to pieces, to die in a watery grave, unmarked, alone for ever.

I have been in these seas scared witless, terrified by every wave, so fearful of the end of my life by drowning that I could not bare to look behind the boat for fear of what I might see and quickly panic, losing my nerve, and then crumbling on shaking knees, to come to rest in a fetal position near the cabin bulkhead and wait for the water to come. Once a wave hit me by surprise from the beam, breaking the cabin door and flinging me across the deck to crash into the gunnel. I only had one rib broken. Had I been thrust a bit higher and not hit the gunnel, I would have been swept to a watery tomb, alone as I said.

One time, I was into a good bite off the Russian River and had about $300 of fish on the deck. I was three miles from port, Bodega Bay, CA., and I was so greedy that I went on fishing even though I was becoming more and more concerned about the sea state. The swells were growing by leaps and bounds, but the bite got even stronger, however, I finally pulled my gear in spite of it. It takes me about an hour or more to get all my gear up and stowed properly. This time I threw hooks, flashers, leaders and snaps and fish all over the deck, hurrying as fast as could because the water was ever deteriorating, I did not know that while I was preparing to leave for the safety of the bay, six people had already died, broached by these waves, and they became alone.

When I finally did get under way, I had these enormous swells chasing me home. I would ride up to the top and then be pushed over and surf at high speed to the bottom only to climb up the back of the preceding swell and plunge again after the wave behind me caught up and again I would climb to fearful heights and again plunge, sometimes through the air, crashing in the trough below with a great bang and shudder of my poor little boat, and my knees would shake, face ashen, and dreaming of port, if only I could stay afloat. The swells came about every eight seconds and their energy was traveling at about 50 MPH.

But then I finally reached the safety of Bodega Head, a massive rock that thrust itself out into the ocean, taking the full punishment of the sea. I darted behind it and I threw my head back and laughed hysterically. I had won. This crazy laughter would be repeated every time I cheated death. It was something that I did often. How stupid this all was! ~ BOBLAWLESS

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