everyone except the landed gentry, the relative abundance and availability of western fish and game created a paradox for which they had no cultural rules. We see the very same thing at work today with the newly arrived communities of Southeast Asians, or Russians in Portland. Besides, Southern Italians in general have never been known for their rigid respect and adherence to the law.
But Dad never killed anything he could not and did not intend to almost immediately eat, and usually only within season, and proper hours. He never used unfair means, or grossly violated limits. Just
sometimes the sex was wrong, or not enough horn, that sort of thing. Reasonable variations of someone trying to roughly stay within the rules and still get his share.
So what happened to me for the first three years of my flyfishing life, while never actively condoned, was not something he could really get indignant about. Releasing the fish actually violated his internal codes more than where I was fishing.
It started innocently enough. After my second ever flyfishing experience on the Green River upstream from Auburn and Kent, where I actually did catch two or three 5 inch fingerlings, or smoults,
I was ready for the big time. But, when I asked around, around being the sporting goods store owner who was trying to keep me happy with his meager flyfishing inventory, I found that there was no real close "big time" in terms of trout for the urban Seattle flyfisher, nothing I could beg or borrow a ride to.
That is not to say there is a shortage of rivers coming out of the Cascades west of Seattle, quite the contrary. The Cedar river, a little jewel of a river that empties into Lake Washington right in downtown Renton was one possibility. The there was the Green, or Duwamish River, depending on what section you meant. Starting at the mouth in Elliott Bay, right in the industrial heart of Seattle with all its attendant pollution, chemical and aesthetic, in an ascending direction the Duwamish wound due south into the Duwamish Valley, a truck farming flood plain in those days. At some point between Seattle and Auburn it shed its indian name for the adjective GREEN (lately as in Green River Killer), turned west and entered a deep gorge. Then, as a full fledged, pristine river roughly the size of the McKenzie or the North Umpqua, it literally dropped off the map.
"Well, there is one place you could fish," the store owner said. "It's not really illegal to fish there, the game department doesn't care, but it's not open either. Technically it is trespassing."
"Who owns it," I asked?
"The Tacoma Water Department".
"Oh," I said, still not completely comprehending.
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