Somewhere deep in a pool below the riffle just downstream from Rainbow Bend, browns, rainbows, brookies, steelhead and one old Chinook, that’s been decomposing since fall but doesn’t know he’s dead yet, gather for the aquatic conclave akin to the Trout Unlimited State Conference. Each fish represents his species which gave him their take on what is about to happen. That is, all except the Chinook, who is the last of his generation and not quite sure why he’s there.
It’s the end of April – not that they have a calendar, it just feels as though it’s time for them to meet and set their agenda for the coming seasons – and they’ve learned they stand a better chance of surviving if they put their collective fins together and plan.
The brown spoke first: “I’ve been replaying last year in my mind and decided I’m going to stay away from brown furry globs that plop down over my hole or just in front of the bank unless I see small legs scrambling like crazy and bobbing to get back out of the water, especially if its tail is bent underneath it.”
The rainbow spoke next. “Everything that sticks to my jaw seems to have a tail bent underneath it. I’m going to avoid those deformed small-fry that look like they came from a nuclear waste dump – not only are they deformed but some glow in the dark.”
The steelhead pulsated his gill plates in agreement. “At least you guys aren’t getting hooked by stupid looking eggs that look like dingle-berries from a sturgeon. If they didn’t float through the redds when I have other things on my mind, it would be ok, but stupid looking or not, I can’t help taking them.”
The brookie just darted around the hole and finally steadied himself in the current and put in his two cents worth. “You guys worry too much. I go after things thrown on the water, float beneath the surface of the water and are drug along the bottom. It’s kind of fun seeing some of the dumb looking things the things with two legs throw at me. It’s fun too, taking them into deadfalls and stuff where they come free from their tether. Besides, even if I get pulled in, I get let go. The only disgusting thing about the whole process is, that two legged thing that holds me, well ..it sure is ugly, really plain in color.”
The Chinook got a momentary spurt of energy and said, “You guys all fool yourselves, I have to be extra careful; most of the time I’m just sitting or swimming when something heavy with three hooks comes up from beneath me and rips off a piece of me or drags me sideways to the top.”
When he had finished his thought, he was gone. His gills stopped moving and what was left of him turned on its side and was taken by the current downstream, floating to the top where paws pulled him from the water.