Editor’s Note: Starting today, my blog posts will feature stories from my 31 years as a military spouse. These are stories that did not make it into my upcoming book, Where You Go, I Will Go, but are entertaining nonetheless. I hope you enjoy them.
I am not an outdoorsy type of person, so Alaska proved to be a challenge sometimes with all the activities that take place outside. But it was a challenge I took so I could experience the Alaskan way of life.
A big part of Alaska living is fishing. We had fly fishing, river fishing, lake fishing, deep-sea fishing, and all sorts of other fishing. A favorite was fishing for king salmon. A person is allowed only one king a year, and you had to get a special stamp for it on your fishing license.
One day in the summer of 2007, the Good Chaplain came home and said the 18th Aggressor Squadron was going on a camping and fishing trip in a few weeks. Did I want to go? That sounded kind of fun — as long as I didn’t have to bait the hook or clean the fish. I said yes.
The weekend was rainy and cold, but we all went anyway. There I was with these macho F-16 fighter pilots, a few other spouses, and some children. Fighter pilots are incredibly competitive, so the trash talk began the first night. Each one was sure they were going to catch the biggest fish.
On Saturday morning, we were divided into teams of three or four. The Good Chaplain, me, and a pilot nicknamed, Skin were put into one boat with our fishing guide. We cruised up the Talkeetna River, looking for a good spot. The guide found a likely spot, baited my hook, and cast my line into the water.
We chatted about inconsequential things while we waited for a strike on one of our lines. Suddenly, a sharp tug hit my line. The guide jumped into motion. Because of the rules, I had to reel the fish in, but the guide could coach me through the process. He identified the fish as a king and proceeded to tell me how to bring it in — pull up on the line, now let the line play out a little, jerk on the line, reel it in, reel it in, reel it in. I lost track of time while I fought this behemoth, but I know it took longer than when I used to catch crappie with my dad. Finally, the fish was in the boat, and it was a beaut.
Soon the Good Chaplain caught one too. Not as big as mine, but decent-sized. Unfortunately, Skin got a strike, but the fish snapped the line and took off. From the looks of it, his fish would have been bigger than mine.
We got back to camp, where others were bragging about their fish until I brought mine around. My fish was 30 pounds and ended up being the largest one caught that day. Hah!
On Monday, during a commander’s meeting, the general gave the pilots a hard time. “You big tough fighter pilots let a woman catch the biggest fish? A woman? What’s wrong with you guys?”
I will always remember this trip. I was out of my comfort zone, and I bested a bunch of macho men! Between my fish and the Good Chaplain’s at 20 pounds, we had enough salmon to last for the next year and a half of our assignment in Alaska.
Stay tuned for more untold stories of my journey in the military world.
Do you have any fish tales to share? Let’s see them in the reply below.