When you do something once, especially in fishing, luck is readily wheeled-out as the culprit. That one day where you caught the biggest trout or caught the most sockeye or landed silvers when no one else could draw a strike. Do it twice, and now skill enters the picture.
Cuda is as fierce on the rod as she is on the softball field, dodgeball court, ski trail, P-90 chin-up bar, or whatever thing she tries. We were power mooching one particular day. She lowered her bait in a slow-rolling spin and when Cuda felt like it was time to stop the drop, she’d rip up as if to say, “I dare you to eat the bait”. When the first king bit, it looked like the proverbial right place and time had happened. When the next fish bent the rod, an aura began to emit, and when the third Chinook hit the deck, Cuda took on her alternate persona, the Queen of Kings.
It started on an earlier trip where she battled a 40-pound Chinook while filming for a TV show. She bested the next biggest fish by 15 pounds easily, and stole the show with a bow-to-stern-and-back battle. Or the time on the Togiak where she easily landed 15 kings in a day while Mac wondered if he actually had a hook in the water. Other times on the Kenai, no one is catching anything, while she calmly lays the lumber to a thick-shouldered beast. Back-bouncing, side drifting, boon-dogging, float fishing, plug-pulling, it doesn’t matter, Cuda’s always putting kings in the box.
Lately this fishiness is migrating to other species. Most of us are working the whole tide change to hook a decent halibut while she takes a nap, strolls out on deck and hooks the best fish of the morning. We struggle to fill a limit of silvers while she sips a glass of Cab. Sav., has a vegan snack and puts six in the box in rapid succession.
Maybe it’s her positive energy, like an internal black box programmed to that perfect two milliamps. Maybe it’s a communion with the fish; she understands their signals and predicts their moves. Maybe she has a little extrasensory perception and anticipates their strikes. Maybe she is just a skilled angler, one of the 10% that catches 90% of the fish.
Whatever it might be, Mac doesn’t care, just as long as Cuda keeps putting kings in the box so they can enjoy that slab of succulent Chinook hot off the grill.