Before I pulled out of Forks to head home from my fishing trip, I swung back into the main part of town and stopped by Olympic Sporting Goods & Yellow Dawg Fly Shop to thank the event coordinator, Bob, for inviting me. Fellow warrior fisherman gathered at the shop that morning to retrieve their steelhead from Bob’s refrigerators. Folks sized up one another's catch and played the "mine's bigger" game.
I had nothing to compare and nothing to retrieve except envy. I admired a 28 pound steelhead, the record catch, and marveled at a few modest 15 pounders. I hated going home empty handed, but it was hard to be disappointed. I had received a free float down the beautiful Ho River by an expert guide. I learned a couple new skills, slept two evenings at a riverside bed and breakfast, soaked in a hot tub, and ate three good meals. The trip was hard to top. Even still, I really wanted a fish.
Sergeant Tucker, a wounded warrior stationed at Fort Lewis, was there to retrieve his two fish. I had made a wager with him the morning of the derby, betting 5 bucks I’d land a bigger fish. Thankful I hadn't spouted off a lot of shit-talking, I paid the man his money. After a gentle ribbing about my fishless state, he offered up a pity fish.
For the record, I’d much rather have caught my own damn fish, but I’m not too proud to eat a pity fish, even when I know it was my girly-ways that landed the catch. A survivor must be rational, fish is fish. The truth is that pity fish tastes just fine smoked up on the Traegger. I thanked Sergeant Tucker for his generosity and headed home for a helping of hot crow and fresh steelhead.