Chapter 17
Summertime, and the Living is Easy

Well down into the throat of the canyon, where the Copper River roars at ferocious and turbulent levels, we were dropped on a steep little crack beside a raging back eddy. In our three years of dip netting this was certainly the wildest spot we’d been placed; the water boiled up like a 747 was coming to the surface. We wasted no time in tying ourselves off to small trees on the steep bank. If you fall into wild water like this, there’s a good chance you won’t live to tell about it; having a way back to shore increases the odds.

The current here was very strong, and holding our nets in it all day proved a constant muscular trial. The river was high and rising, and the fishing was slow. But there was enough activity to keep it exciting. Our fourth fish hit my net very hard—not something you relish when wedged precariously on a precipice with deep, wildly roiling water splashing at your feet. I knew it was a king salmon as soon as it hit, and I hauled in for all I was worth. Sure enough, out of the opaque water came this giant beauty of a fish, bashing and splashing me furiously as I tried to maintain my balance and prevent its escape. Rose went for the club while I stood there wrestling with this fish, knowing that with my adrenalin levels (and my ability to breathe) it would get tired before I did. So I held it suspended and thrashing until it slowed down and I could climb up to better footing, then we were able to subdue it and get it onto a stringer. Wow. My first king. I think the adrenalin rush kept me going for the rest of the day.