Better Off

Nonfiction from Roger A. Page
Excerpted from Bluff & Vine, Issue Five

The crystal water and morning sun, drag zipping from my shoddy reel, and my face tightening between tension and elation as whatever had struck my Rapala dove for the depths and struggled to break free. I hadn’t a clue as to how to fight a fish like this, hadn’t thought this far ahead. I surmised it a good time to reel when I felt the tide turn my way. Slowly I thought to be gaining and now my eyes strained for a glimpse of the fish. An audible gasp met the sudden flash below the surface. I doubted my chances to land this fish, I had no reason not to, but seized the moment anyhow. I felt vibrant, sober, and better off. When my taut line rose toward the surface, the fish, like a shining missile vaulted once, twice, three times, in rapid succession, miraculously staying hooked after each soaring aerial…

I must have taken twenty photos of that fish, a silver landlocked salmon, my first from Keuka. I landed another landlocked salmon that day, too, and returned home to a hero’s welcome. Karen ogled my catch and we each marveled at the silvery brilliance of the twin salmon. Each one weighed over three pounds, far and away the largest fish I had ever caught. When I filleted them, a clumsy process at that point, the meat fascinated us, too, a translucent orange that wound up tasting not nearly as good as it looked—but give me time, I had lots to learn about cooking fish.

I had much to learn about other aspects as well.

To read this entire story, pick up Issue Five of Bluff & Vine at Longs’ Cards and Books in Penn Yan, or by visiting


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