A good while before the show ended, I was fairly sure I knew what was going on. Maybe some of the other observers did, too, but nobody said anything. Finally, both fishermen began to gain line at once, rather easily and quickly. "He's coming up," the one on my side muttered, sounding more like Humphrey Bogart all the time. "Tired. Whipped. Thirty pounds. Maybe more. Wait and see." He was smiling, and so was his counterpart across the river, as he cranked hard at his reel.
They had snagged lines out there, of course, and had been playing each other. For all that time, as one strained against the pressure of the other's rod, their entangled lines had been held on the bottom by some obstruction, most likely a sunken tree. Under the increasing pressure, the lines had somehow come free, and they popped to the surface at the very middle of the pool—a large silver spoon solidly hooked to a ball of red salmon eggs.
For a few seconds, the two of them stared as the spoon wobbled gently in the current on the surface in the evening light. Then, for a few seconds more they stared, their faces reddening, at one another. Then they began to scream and swear:
"Cut your—— line, you——," the one on my side yelled.
"You——, cut your line!" was the rejoinder.
"One of you loosen your drag," a bystander suggested, "and then the other one can reel in and untangle the mess. The rest of us want to try to catch some fish."
So that was how they worked it out, to a few snide remarks and general laughter. With their lines separated they left, in a hurry, their faces still red.
Such are some of the delights and possibilities of fishing, and each time someone tells me that it's boring I have to wonder what he's talking about.