Saturday, March 23, 2013

The right place at the right time

There was a time in my life when I looked forward to the end of March/early April all year long. Not because I enjoy winter’s last gasps, or watching the snow melt. No, I looked forward to it because it meant it was time for the Northwest Sportshow.

All year long, I’d save my money and formulate grand plans to spend it on fishing tackle at the sportshow. Every few weeks, I’d drop all the coins on my bed, stack ‘em up, and figure out what I could buy.

Back then, the sportshow lasted 10 days. This was back before I had wheels, so I’d have to find a ride. But I always did, and always went to the show at least twice.

I write about the sportshow because, well, it opened a couple days ago and runs through this weekend. And even though I won’t be able to attend this year, it’s really the one show I think about every year. That’s because so many cool stories have come from it. Here’s one of my favorites:

I don’t recall the exact year, but in the early 1990s my family took a trip to Alaska. The plan was to fish for salmon, do some sight-seeing, and visit family. Also, my dad, mom, and sister would fly, while my brother, uncle, and I would drive and do some fishing along the way.

Our one specific fishing plan was the result of the sportshow. That year, several of us were walking around the booths, checking out the various destinations. We stopped at a booth and spoke with a couple guys who operated a fly-in fishing deal in British Columbia, and flew fishermen into a lake called Maxhamish. As a 6th- or 7th-grader, I wasn’t much involved in the planning, but looking at their colorful flyers and pictures of walleyes got me all jazzed.

Then that summer rolled around, and John, Tom, and I hit the road. The details are fuzzy, but we arrived in the town where these outfitters were based. I’m not sure if we couldn’t find them, or the trip never had been set up, but we ended up on a public dock, casting for whatever would bite. The thought was we would camp near there, but that we ultimately wouldn’t get to Lake Maxhamish – accessible only by plane – because we couldn’t find the outfitter.

So we stood there and casted, and then heard a plane. It soon came over the trees and landed on the
lake in front of us.

I wouldn’t have recognized the guys, but Uncle Tom did. Turned out it was the same guys he spoke with at the sportshow. So purely by chance, they’d literally dropped from the sky and appeared in front of us.

It wasn’t long later that we were packed into the plane, in the sky, and heading for Maxhamish.

It wound up being an awesome fly-in trip, and we spent a couple of days catching walleyes by what seemed like the hundred. Just goes to show it pays to be in the right place at the right time.

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