Author Topic: Barbecued Salmon  (Read 1107 times)

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Rory E. Glennie

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Barbecued Salmon
« on: March 31, 2012, 10:21:12 AM »

Barbecued Salmon
                  -- Smoky the bare alight.

Human pyrogenesis is an awesome natural spectacle, or so I have been told. I have never witnessed this phenomenon first hand, but have come close to it when I have unintentionally lighted myself on fire… Twice. 
The first time it happened was when I went to light the kid's Halloween jack-o’-lantern. I quite absentmindedly stroked the wooden safety match forward along the abrasive strip on the side of the matchbox. As I did so, a minuscule flaming shard of sulfur flew off from the match tip on a spiraling rearward trajectory, which ended up touching down in my lap. Normally an event of this kind goes largely unnoticed as no damage accrues. However, this particular time I was wearing my new cotton/polyester blend terry cloth robe.

It took a mere microsecond to ignite the fine fuzz covering the unwashed fabric. I gawked in disbelief as a ring of clear-blue flame spread upward toward my chest. The same way a flame follows gasoline fumes along the ground around a wet bonfire pile liberally doused with that liquid fuel, though in a slow motion kind of way. No real harm done though, as I was able to suppress the conflagration by beating on my chest, while hollering in my best Tarzan imitation.

The second instance of me becoming a human inferno was in much the same fashion. Only a couple of weeks after the first incident I went to fire-up the old woodstove. It must have been a bad batch of matches or something. The same scenario unfolds as I am striking the match. Poof! I am alight again. Yes, in the same robe. Apparently, there was a small patch of unburned fuzz left over from the previous blaze, and the splinter of flaming match head unerringly found it. This time I was quick into action. The flames were out in mere moments as both my hands slapped at the spreading ring of fire.

Undaunted, I struck another match to light the kindling. That is when I felt warmth permeating my backside and smelled burning hair. I reflexively dropped the lit match inside the firebox where it subsequently snuffed out. Unknown to me at the time, the flame had crept around behind me and was consuming the fuzzy pile on the back of my robe. In a flash, I was out of the robe and madly stomping out the fire with my bare feet. Thinking back, that must have presented an amusing site to those in the room -- a grown naked man doing a war dance on a pile of smoldering rags heaped upon the living room floor.

Now what does all that have to do with fishing you might ask. Well, after the embers were out, I donned my now toasty warm robe, and walked over and opened the slider on the living room window. The room definitely needed ventilating to clear both the smoke and blue air. As I stood there, contemplating the unlikely event of being roasted alive a third time in the same robe, I gasped deep breaths of fresh air attempting to purge my nostrils of the acrid scent of burned body hair. Then I experienced something quite profound.

The living room window of my house, situated on the left bank of a river, overlooked a strong flowing stream only a few metres away. The water was a bit muddied from recent storm water runoff, the tide was rising slowly in the main estuary channel, multi-coloured autumn leaves were spinning downstream with the flow.

The effect of this bucolic scene on my singed psyche was soothing. Then, emanating from somewhere further out from the estuary, a vee-shaped bow wave made headway upstream against the current. As the apex passed slowly in front of my viewpoint a single silver-bright salmon surfaced porpoise-like then dove into the flow and continued on its way. Moments later a series of similar bow waves made their way past me in single file procession following the vanguard. The fall salmon run had begun in earnest.

With thoughts of further pyrotechnics banished from my mind I got dressed, slipped into my waders and rain jacket, grabbed my fly rod and headed out the door to the beach. A rising tide is a glorious entity; always promising something new as it creeps over the rocks and up into the stream channel. To a fly fisher, a rising tide with fish visibly working their way upstream within casting range is unadulterated bliss.

The salmon swimming past my chosen casting position were fresh from the sea cohoes, silver-bright, tough as nails, in prime condition. Fresh run coho can be either very aggressive towards your offering or can be single minded in their disdain. Apparently, these ones had a nasty pugnacious gene in their ancestry.

One or two of the more belligerent members of their tribe accosted my poor fly with such ravaging effect that I wavered on the brink of exasperation as I replaced more than one fly mangled beyond further use. A matched pair of my prized polar bear streamers ended their days in a sorry tattered mess mangled by their sharp rasp like teeth.

Nighttime was approaching fast. I had been party to this glorious madness for all of about an hour and-a-half. It was time to head upstream to my house. One last cast. And a hoped for one last salmon. Fish on!

In my mind, the outcome of that hook-up was never in doubt; my rod was resilient. My leader tippet, strong and sound. My hook, sharp and well set in the fish’s jaw. My reflexes smooth. The balanced thrust and parry of fish and fisher. The salmon called the tune and I danced the familiar waterside jig. In a brief ten minutes, the dance was over.

With the coup-de-grace quickly administered, a gleaming broad-backed specimen of about ten and-a-half pounds had won the privilege of becoming my family’s dinner that night. As I slipped quietly along the bank side toward my home, hoisting my heavyweight prize so its tail would not drag on the stones, I mused to myself over the amazing turn of events I had witnessed this day. From nearly being barbecued to enjoying a barbecued dinner.

The cold drizzle had seeped in through every opening in my rain jacket. I was tired and starting to shiver with a chill. I thought back to my earlier botched incident with the matches. Damn! I was cold. Just then, I looked up to see a steady, blue-grey wisp of smoke wafting from my chimney. I smiled and flushed with an inner glow. Thankfully, someone less flammable in my household had a comforting fire in the woodstove successfully blazing.


« Last Edit: April 02, 2012, 11:43:24 AM by Rory E. Glennie »
Ghillie -- A wise and discreet waterside companion to genteel fly fishers... that's me.

Todd Oishi

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Re: Barbecued Salmon
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2012, 10:03:19 AM »
You tell an excellent story Rory. Thanks for sharing this adventure with us. I actually had to pause midway through it and crank-up the fireplace!!

For me, the quality of a trout is not measured in inches or pounds, but rather by the journey and circumstances that allowed our paths to cross...