I’ve seen your face before. It shows scars from your past well. Well enough that I can see them from across the river. Upon that upper lip, a black scar from years ago, showed an age beyond your own. Possibly a scar that signified a wayward treble hook that dangled behind a flashing treat. Adolescent and naiive, you took the bait, was mistreated, and now you bear the scar for life. A scar of the wise.
In my life I have come across thousands of your kind, thousands that only carry a handful of dispositions. There are the shakers that slosh the surface spitting water every which direction but never really go far. There are the runners that swim upstream at a breakneck pace, frustrating the fisherman with break-offs. Then there are the acrobats, who are tricky at times with their high flying antics, but easily manipulated to net. The stones, who find the deepest current and rest, which cause fisherman to second guess. The flailers, who like getting hooks wrapped around rocks and in weeds while vigorously trying to shake out the hook. With all these, there can be mixtures of sorts, and some more unique than others. Then there is you. In my years, I have never met a fish like you. You showed your power, your arrogance. You knew, and this is the third time we have met. I know that scar, and each time it feels like you want me to see it. Like you want me to know it is you.
I know where you reside, and with your size and stature, you can be dominant over your territory without an issue. You live on the fast side of 20 rock. A rock so-called because of your brutish friends that live in the current break. Not choosing that as your feeding ground, you took to the point side, the first to the conveyor belt of food that deposits behind 20 rock. Safe from fisherman. An impossible drift to achieve naturally. I found a way with a quick double mend and you have found my fly for the third time. I am a glutton for punishment.
The first time, you swam upstream with all of the power of your predecessor, the salmon. You raised your head across the shallows before you found a way to shake my fly. I saw the scar then, as I did today. The second time, I almost had you, ten feet away, you layed on your side in defeat as I pulled you in. I got a closer look at the scar before you shot down into the deep and off with my fly. It was that day I saw your size, an astonishing double digit weight and nearly 25 inches, even that may be an understatement. The third time, we knew each other, we knew our history.
The battle was not epic. It was not one that got my heart racing. I knew it was you when I set the hook. A firm set into a heavyweight, in an instant you maneuvered yourself downstream. Close enough to the surface that my line whistled as it split the air. Enough energy to confuse the novice and buy you time to dislodge the hook. I kept tension against you as you dove to the bottom. Your easiest way out, a place where you knew well that you could apply weight to tire me out. We sat for a minute in a stalemate while I put a near breaking tension upon you. You waited in your comfort zone. Out of nowhere, I felt you begin to rise, out of your own admission, out of free-will. I was confused. Your shape began to take form in the more shallow water, but you swam steadfast, without a stressor, as though my hook were not even there. Your fins cut the surface of the water and I was in awe. You lifted your massive head out of the water like a silent submarine. That eye, that deep, aged, sunken eye looked at me. Like you committed me to memory and marked me as your enemy. A conscious effort was put forth on your part, you knew who I was and wanted me to know. It was that moment of realization when you turned your head to dive back into the abyss, that you showed me again, the scar. Purposefully and dutifully extracting the hook from your disfigured jaw.
One of these days we will meet again.