Fishing with Jerry’s Kid(s)

On a recent Sunday morning I received a last minute invitation to join a friend, Jerry, on an excursion to chase Coho (silver) salmon on a local river. Jerry didn’t call me directly, but rather his wife called my wife to ask if I wanted to go.  It felt a bit like I was a kid again, with our mothers setting up a play date for us. As the day progressed I would feel like a kid in more ways than one.

A busy day at the boat ramp.

A good day to take a kid fishing.

Without a Seahawk game on television to keep folks inside on the couch drinking beer and eating chips, it appeared everyone and their uncle was doing the same thing we were doing. Parking was tight at the launch but I was able to wedge my child-sized Fish Taco between the Big Boy trucks and walked to the boat ramp. Under clouds and a fading light drizzle Jerry arrived and we launched his sled. Actually Jerry did all the work— I just stood on the bank and held the bow line, taking great pride in my responsibility.

Where the Sky meets the Snoqualmie

We proceeded down the Snoqualmie River to its confluence with the Skykomish River; the union of which forms the Snohomish River. Down the Snohomish we went, dodging scores of sleds filled with other anglermen. The sky was beginning to clear and it was a crisp day defined by the yellow leaves of Autumn which dropped gently in a light breeze. With leaves in the water, Fall was definitely in the air and that included the stench of millions of rotting Pink salmon carcasses, which served as a reminder that I’d tried, unsuccessfully, to catch some of them earlier in the season.

We picked a spot between other boats and anchored up within a stone’s throw of the river bank. Armed with spinning rods rigged with weighted clumps of Jerry’s home made roe, we cast toward fish that were rolling and splashing just off the bank. As the weight tapped along the bottom, the clumps of roe drifted in the gentle current. When the tapping of the weight ceased, it was an indication that a fish had inhaled the eggs. That’s when you set the hook.

Or at least that’s when Jerry would set the hook, which he did successfully three times, filling his limit of 3 Coho in fairly short order. Other anglers in surrounding boats seemed to be doing the same thing. I managed to hook snags in the water and broke off my end tackle 5 times (yes, I was counting).  Fortunately Jerry had come prepared with an ample supply of pre-rigged leaders, and each time I snapped off and tied on a new leader, I could see the vein in his forehead pulse more rapidly. Had I not at least been baiting my own hook I’m sure Jerry would have made me sit in the front of the boat eating animal crackers.

To my credit I did offer a small measure of value by netting Jerry’s fish, although I was accused of handling the net “like a fly fisherman, afraid of hurting the fish.”  In my defense I was actually less concerned with hurting fish than I was with knocking his fish off the hook with poor netsmanship. Had that happened I’m certain I’d have been picked up by the back of my pants and dropped over the side of the boat.

There was no obvious explanation for my comparative lack of fish harvesting: we were fishing the same setups, the same water. The only difference being the pheromone that I apparently give off that repels fish. I’m sure Jerry had never seen anything quite like it. It wasn’t exactly like shooting fish in a barrel, but it shouldn’t have been this hard for anyone with half a reflex to catch one of these fish. And so went the afternoon.

With only 5 minutes remaining before we had to pull anchor and get back to the ramp, Jerry hooked another fish. And then the unthinkable followed: he handed me the rod. “Here you go, ” he said.

Blushing, I felt like the awkward kid as I played the fish to the boat where Jerry wielded the net like a man. We headed back to the boat ramp in silence.

Jerry’s fish.

At least I had my participant’s ribbon for the day—a charitable handout that is now in the smoker—my very man-sized Little Chief.

Not Jerry’s Kid.

Kid-sized smoker.


  1. Bud Alcock

    Well done …………………… least as well as you could have done. My fishing partners and I give each other the gears all the time even when we are not fishing !!


    • Kirk Werner

      Thanks, Bud. I think it’s time I took up another hobby. There’s a quilting club in town I may check out.

  2. Aileen

    Awwwww, how cute!

    • Kirk Werner

      What is this word, “cute”? I do not know this word. I’m a damn man. A rugged man.

      Except on this recent day, when I was a boy.

  3. Chase

    Psssh I wouldn’t feel so bad. We fly anglers may think of ourselves as the baddest fishermen around, but after 20 years of gear fishing I still think detecting a subtle strike side-drifting eggs can be just about as challenging as it gets! And those Snoho Coho are notoriously lockjawed as it is.

    • Kirk Werner

      While I appreciate the attempt to console me, Chase, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I certainly don’t think fly fishermans in general, and myself in particular, are badass catchers of fish. I suck. There are way more effective means of catching fish than on the fly (of course you know that). And true about those tight lipped silver anti-socialites, but I should have managed at least one fish. Just one. He’ll, I couldn’t even snag a molding, 98% dead Humpy!

  4. Marianne

    Great story! Art and his daughter Kirsten were there last week too…same result. Kirsten – 3
    Art – watching and waiting!

    Good stuff for the grill.

    • Kirk Werner

      No! Say it’s not true—the mighty Clark, who led an expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific and back, couldn’t catch a stupid fish?

  5. Howard Levett

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with animal crackers or Little Chief smokers.

    • Kirk Werner

      Exactly the whole point of my “article.” Sort of.

  6. Austin Orr

    No two ways around it, that was a bit of a beating for the ol’ ego.

    But, hey, fresh smoked salmon!

    • Kirk Werner

      You’re a glass half full kinda guy, eh Austin? Thanks for the comment and the glimmer of hope. If I had an ego, it’d have been left on the river, along with the scores of rotting fish and snagged leaders.

  7. jergens

    “Take your kid fishing day” Never have had that thought when you were in my boat Kirk. Not even once! Hahaha…..

    • Kirk Werner

      You offer a special price for kids, right Joe? How do I apply for a retroactive discount?

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