The Nakina Trail, On the River
By Sawyer Hill (Westminster College)
“Twenty minutes until lunch,” comes the call as I grab a fishing rod and follow Nico upriver with promises to be back for lunch with a fish in hand. Clambering down the rocky embankment to the water’s edge we cast our large shiny lures out into the deepest water hole in sight. Closing my eyes, I bask in the heat of the sun and listen to the cacophony of sounds around me; Bald eagles giving low shrieking calls as they patrol the skies, the constant rush of water from the swift current, the rustle of leaves from the light breeze and the peaceful silence that one can only find out in nature away from the hustle and bustle of humanity.
A sharp tug of my fishing line jerks me back to the reality of the river. Fish on! Reeling with everything I’ve got I bring the fish within sight of shore, and my what a magnificent Chinook Salmon it is. Perching precariously on the rock I begin scaling across the cliff face to get to flat ground to land the fish. Hanging onto the cliff face with one hand, the other hand holding tight to the fishing rod with now taut line, I struggle to keep from following into the river and losing the salmon. Halfway across the rock face I am forced to hand the rod over to Nico and scramble over the rocks with two free hands, taking the pole back once my feet have found firm ground once more.
I slowly, every so slowly, reel in the salmon, the whole while marveling at what a specimen it is. Nico, with stout stick in hand waits for me to pull the salmon ashore to end the struggle. With a serious a splashes and several well aimed swings the struggle is over. Hoisting the salmon over my shoulder on a rope we march back to camp, triumphant in our capture.
After gutting and cleaning the salmon, two large sacks of eggs and a still beating tiny heart lays upon the piece of plywood acting as a table.
The eggs, sometimes called roe, are quickly placed in a pot to be boiled over the fire. Next soy sauce and wasabi are pulled out and mixed together in a small wooden bowl.
Two large salmon filets lay, ready to be cooked over the fire. But first, a sampling of sashimi is in order.
Sashimi, the freshest fish one could eat. Cut straight from the raw salmon fillet and dipped in the sauce bowl it is a treat to the palate. Gazing out on the raw, unbridled beauty of the Nakina River; sunlight streaming down upon us; the taste of the salmon flesh still fresh in our mouths; we experience a once in a lifetime moment and are quite content to bask in its glory; hesitating only to cut another row of sashimi.
All photo credit: Nico Shaffer