It was my first season in Alaska, and I was one of several new fishing guides that had gathered around the bonfire to unwind, review the day, and listen to Rusty. The old guide was the consummate bush rat, and had forgotten more about living and working in the North Country than many of us would ever learn. His flaming red hair stuck out from under his hat at odd angles, and he had a wild beard to match. Like a good parent, he encouraged us when we did well, admonished us when we needed it, and passed along the lessons he’d learned when we’d listen. “Fish are the world’s greatest barometer of karma,” he cackled, as he pushed another spruce round into the dying fire. Sparks towered into the soft Alaskan dusk.
We all leaned in, tipped forward on our log seats, and waited for him to continue. He took a sip of whiskey from an old tin cup, smacked his lips, sat back and closed his eyes. Seconds later he opened them and watched the sparks trail off downwind toward the coast. I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer.
“What d’ya mean?” I asked.
This and 13 other articles can be found in the 2010 Issue of Hatches Magazine(will be published September 1st)