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Stop and smell the fish?

Posted by johnnieraz on October 17, 2026 at 1:45 AM

By John Rezell

I find myself irked by the saying, "Life is short."

To the contrary. I believe life is insanely long. Too many people spent too much time hurrying along, attempting to cram every moment with something -- anything -- instead of slowing down a pinch and savoring the moment.

So I've created a new hiking agenda for Ridgely and me. No longer do we drive to the mountains, hop out, hike, hop in and drive home. No, the time is now to savor.

Blame it on my fishing success this summer. Maybe my years of fishlessness were in large part due to the fact that I rarely found time to just sit on the bank and cast for an hour. Or two. Or more.

Ridgely and I recently debuted this technique on a hike to a couple of my favorite lakes in the Cascades.

Instead of just packing up with the essentials for the hike plus my emergency supplies, I added some fishing gear, a hammock along with chips and salsa. From the moment we stepped away from the car, the day took on a whole new tone.

Oh, Ridgely was pretty much her usual self. That's because she had no idea what I had planned.

We hiked to the lake, and instead of checking the time to determine how many more miles we could log, we slipped off the beaten trail and began to wander along the lakeshore.

Eventually I found a sweet spot where I could cast my line and be just a few steps from two trees to hold the hammock.

Ridgely took her traditional swim, got me soaked as she shook off right next to me as she always does, and then wasn't sure what was up.

As I put up the hammock, she nosed around the area. Then she had enough. She definitely fit the "Life is short" mold.

I tossed my backpack into the hammock and went down to fish. After 20 minutes or so of tossing out my fly that landed not one, but two fish this summer, I decided to try something else.

When I tossed that line in, the lure and bobber kerplunked into the water. Suddenly a huge splash followed, and a rather large fish apparently wanted to dine on the bobber, taking it down. I don't mean the bobber when down when it struck the lure (I as he because I'm pretty sure a female fish wouldn't be so impatient). I mean the bobber was in his mouth as he went down deep.

Quickly the fish realized its foolish mistake. It released the bobber and went about its business.

For the next hour or so, this fish mocked me. It was a healthy 18-plus inches, and continually swam back and forth in my line of sight, completely ignoring everything in my tackle box that I attempted to entice it with.

Meanwhile, Ridgely sat defiantly beneath the hammock letting me know in no uncertain terms what she thought about sitting around as opposed to hiking and running around the forest. After awhile I had to ask her to stop the whining.

Eventually I retired to the hammock for some chips and salsa.

As we just sat enjoying the solitude and beauty, the piercing bugel of a bull elk not too far away in the forest broke the silence and sent chills up my spine. The bugels only intensified Ridgely's desire to get up and get going again, but eventually she gave in and simply savored nature.

Can't wait for the weather to finally cool off a bit -- assuming that it will. This has been the warmest, driest summer into fall that we've experienced here. We've had a lot of days with temperatures around 80 degrees all through September and into October.

But once we get some cool weather and some rain, it will be time to test out this new technique while hunting for Chanterelle mushrooms. Should be fun.

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