Brother Jim is finally in the fold…The Guides Forecast fold that is.
I won a donated Chinook subscription in the recent Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association online auction and signed him up.
(It’s a great gift, by the way. I know of no other angling-related website offering as much information about fishing in our region for just a few dollars a month.)
But for me it was also having my best friend back within casting range.
Jim Monroe, a semi-retired Methodist minister, and his wife, Sue, also a retired Methodist minister who’s been his partner in the pulpit – for family and beyond – recently relocated from Sisters to Cathlamet, Wash., where he’s already bought a boat and is making plans for its extensive use from that city’s picturesque and well-kept marina.
So what, you might ask?
I woke up this morning (Wednesday) much earlier than my usual 5:30 a.m. With Jim on my mind and fishing in our future…then got to thinking about fishing in our past…being raised by a father and mother who instilled in us a bond in angling.
…Which triggered a much broader seasonal realization.
Christmas is a time for family.
In angling, we find bands, families if you will, of brothers and sisters.
It’s contagious and we can’t help but feel bonded; yes, even when we don’t agree on things. Even then, we still come together to profess our dedication to not just our sport, but the important resource that fuels it.
You probably have siblings who share your joy for angling. And if not, you’re still in this brother-sister hood of unspoken commitment by participation.
This website is run by brothers, Bob and Doug Rees.
My writing partner, Buzz Ramsey, was nurtured early in his angling passion by his mother, who made sure to take him to his favorite fishing hole until he could drive himself and take his younger brother, John.
Jim and I and our sister, Mary Anne – also an avid angler, but now homebound after a stroke – grew up in a Navy family and our Dad, who loved fishing almost as much as golf, partnered with mom (who also loved fishing) to make sure we got to test the waters and taste the challenges every chance we got.
We spent summers in the high Sierra Nevada mountains as teens. My first fish with my dad as a toddler was a yellow perch I caught somewhere near Astoria, where he was stationed at Tongue Point. I took it home to show mom’s bridge club and reveled in the oohs and aahs of other understanding mothers.
Jim and I lost touch with each other in most of my own service years, but managed to take some time on leave and fish with dad occasionally in the streams near Sequim, where he retired.
After the service and in my career at The Oregonian, I connected often with Jim, who spent his own career serving churches in Oregon and then as a district superintendent with numerous churches in his flock.
My wife and I often – as possible anyway – attend his services and suffer in silence as he uses me and our childhood antics as metaphors for moral points.
In turn, I’ve often written about him, and while our versions of the same incidents sometimes – ok, usually – don’t match, they always end the same, with our mutual admiration for each other.
He’s the better human being, of course, but I’m the better fisherman, even if I did actually knock off the only keeper coho of the day at Buoy 10 as I tried to net it for him.
My wife and I once joined Jim on a mission trip to Kenya, where he and Sue served as missionaries in an AIDS-ravaged region for a few years.
While there, we took a walk one day from the small city’s best hotel (don’t touch the light above the shower head if you want to live) along a nearby seasonal lake, split by a roadway of sorts.
On the shallow shoreline, some people came to wash their clothes. A taxi driver drove a bit into the water to clean his vehicle.
I stopped by an old man, who was fishing with a hand-held line. To cast it, he simply wrapped the line around a tin can, baited a hook and then tossed it into the deepest part of the lake (only a few feet), feeding the line carefully off the can as if it were coming off a spinning reel.
He seemed happy.
So, too, were a pair of young boys on the other side of the lake-splitting roadway who seemed to know the older man.
They were pulling a net between them by crawling on their bellies in the water and catching what they could – a fistful of perch-like fish that would augment their porridge dinners; or perhaps bring a few shillings at the market.
They were brothers.
So are we…with them and others on this smaller and smaller planet.
Remember that this Christmas as you share the season with your loved ones.