Barometer, a Fishing Tale
Four hours of driving, including the dusty, unpaved one-laned special, brought us to our next lake. The sun peered out from the high cumulus clouds and the darker shades of sky coverage seemed to be moving westward away from our new bounty. Upon unloading our boat, I watched a lake snake slither around the boat launch, also peering as curiously at me as I was at it.
Dad and I unpacked our gear and set up our boat in time for the wind to pick up slightly, but the sun continued to ray upon us, the air pressure building. Typically, it is in the timing of measuring barometer dropping, that we often catch the most fish. Trout often changing their eating patterns in a voracious kind of way. So, on this humid, sunny day, I was hopeful.
Ready to tempt the unknown, Dad and I both began to strip out our fishing lines to the dark abyss of the lake. Its muted tones reflected the ongoing changes of clouds and sun rays, but increasingly, the overcast skies began to shroud the majority of the sky’s palette.
Today’s fishing required a full lead core line. Today’s lake was no exception, being profundal in nature, the mystery of its depth would be a part of our discoveries today. Depth plays a tremendous role in figuring out where best to troll a line first to get a sense of our underwater landscape, and in our case, up to 30 feet of line, right to the backing of our reels.
We trolled all around the edges of the lake in anticipation, but as the humidity held, the fish abstained as well. Clouds continued to gather, darker now, more sinister, and at this point, the barometer began to drop in increments of single digits within a moment’s notice.
Without any warning but the accumulating achromatic sky above our heads, the first roll of thunder, presented itself.
Sky announced itself.
And barometer dropped again.
Dad and I stared at each other as both our fishing rods began to wag quickly, vehemently towards the lake. Fish on and doubles.
“Kath, we gotta reel in and get off this lake,” Dad began while he still continued to reel in a trout but with the same accuracy of a new angler, keeping the line too loose, almost hoping the trout will release itself, and with it, the line.
I realize he’s seen something behind me, an electric whitening in the sky. I too begin to play fast and loose with the trout that I have on my line and within seconds, both of us now sit vulnerable to Thor’s power out here. Despite the cushion of a wooden pram boat, the very same instrument I have come to learn as my catching mechanism could be the conduit to my demise.
Sky pours down, a cloudburst of hard rain arrived.
Soaked in a matter of a minutes, we hit the electric motor’s power on high, hiding all our rods by our sides, but no matter, when you’re out here in a boat, the protection is all in its underside. Like a turtle turned on its back, we too lay exposed, trying our hardest for shore.
Sky’s temperament was the leaden grey of a concrete hue with blotches of sinister dark, it’s tears shed heavily, as a sign that we were no longer welcome on the lake.
Dad and I reached the rocky dirt of the self-made boat launch; ourselves drenched to the point of shrivelled skin and a hint of shivers as our body temperatures kept dropping. We hustled to take apart the boat, this rush, reminiscent of the first time you camp without a canopy and your tent is hit with rain.
There is nothing worse than packing up a wet camp, and in our case, a wet boat, tons of gear, two chairs and packing up our ability to fish the rest of the day. With not even a change of clothing, we heaved the boat onto the car trailer, secured it and began our long drive back towards a paved road, in the interim, tiny fissures of rainwater rushed through the seams of the gravel path the car traveled down the remote route home.
Lightning persisted and flash flooding on our roads made for speedy maneuvers until we found our main highway again. The closer we got to the main highway, the sooner the clouds gave way to the sun, creeping out of a slumber from its bed of grey matter.
As we neared the first sight of ‘civilization’, where gravel road reunited with the pavement, we pulled over to quickly wash the back of the trailer’s lights and take a good look at the behemoth of a storm we had pulled ourselves out of while taking stock of the sticky aftermath of wet clothes and humidity from the sun’s heat. Dad and I both got out of the car to take in the scene.
A juxtaposition of blackened grey clouds and bright iridescent light and heat of the sun through a thin veiled curtain of rain, stunned us in our faces.
It is here, that I know that we’ll never have the ability to control our days, and any hint of this delusion, sat quietly in my thoughts while ringing out rainwater from my shorts.
Dr. Katherine Mulski wishes to acknowledge that she has had the privilege to live, work, and fly-fish on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the Musqueam (xʷəәθkwəәy̓əәm), Semiahmoo (Semyome), Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh), Stó:lō, and Tseil-Waututh (Səәl̓ílwəәtaɬ) First Nations. She fly-fishes as many lakes as she can with her Dad and Bulldog Trout Associate, Nora. You can follow along on her literary and line casting journey on Instagram @kathonthefly