The weather was warm, the water dark and cold; we were trolling for salmon down the Johnstone Strait in British Columbia.My rod snapped and I reeled in a good sized fish, some two feet, my first catch, and in only 30 minutes on the water. I pulled it beside the boat and watched, in surprise, as the guide gaffed it in the head and then dropped the flopping thing into the boat, bleeding profusely, and bashed it again and again, leaving a trail of thick blood pools across the brilliant white bottom. At last it was dead.
“Oh…no.” The guide picked it up, examining its fins and then measuring it. “We have to throw it back.”
“It’s a Chinook and it’s only 24 inches. It has to be 24 and 1/2.”
“But it’s already dead.”
He picked up the carcass, both of them pale. “I would get into trouble if I brought it back to the docks.”
We watched him sink the dead fish into the deep dark blue. I looked at Micaela, both of us in an odd kind of shock, thinking this was akin to murder, and then Micaela’s line went taught. She half-heartedly reeled it in, but it jumped the hook. “Yes.” She smiled. “It got away.”