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THE RIVER

By Chad Robert Snyder

Pilot staff writer

I had the privilege of growing up in a coastal town very much like Brookings.

My family and I lived on a lake where I passed many an idle afternoon fishing for bluegill and trout.

The area surrounding us was also scribbled with rivers and what we affectionately called "cricks," both offering boundless opportunities for angling, the likes of which I have rarely seen equaled.

And, of course, there was an immense ocean. I remember distinctly how we'd get up on Saturday mornings and board a charter boat in hopes of bringing home a massive lingcod or two.

I'll never forget those experiences: carefree days with a line in the water, the people with whom I shared those moments, and the uniquely peaceful activity of baiting and waiting.

Now I find myself here, in Brookings, immersed again in a land of water and watermen. The atmosphere is palpably aquatic. The smells remind me of worms on a hook and giant reels mounted to broomstick poles.

It all makes me want to fish, perhaps more than I've ever wanted to before.

I thought about it a little, and I honestly can't tell you exactly why. I know that part of it is the nostalgia, an attempt to recapture the feelings a small boy had so many years ago. But that can't be it entirely; there has to be something else taking up residence in my mind.

Maybe it's the river. I'm lucky enough to live scarcely 50 feet from the Chetco. Every day I hear the barely audible sounds the river makes as it rolls to the sea. It's peaceful, but within those soothing sounds is a song that demands to be heard. Although the lyrics are unintelligible, I hear its message – flowing water is the source of every living thing.

It's the lifeblood of even the mighty Pacific. Without the constant deposit of eroded material, all the world's oceans would be near sterile, lifeless places. You couldn't even think about catching a salmon or a halibut; they simply wouldn't be there.

So perhaps in an instinctual feeling. Maybe ingrained in me – and every living thing that ever walked the earth – is a reverence for the water and all things that live within it.

Why then want to catch them. I guess, like so many others, I could go to the store and buy a couple pounds of salmon, but that's just wouldn't be the same.

I feel like I need to use ingenuity and human ability to take my place in the food chain. We are clever beings, capable of acquiring what we need to survive. But I don't prove that on a daily basis. Maybe that's what the river is whispering.

I'll tell you one thing. A day has not past in the last few weeks without me imagining a huge chromer emerging for the first time from under the chop of the pulsing river.

And don't get me wrong, you're not going to find me beating my chest and stomping around some monstrous fire, preparing for the "hunt". Where you might find me, however, is standing on some river bank, searching for my "roots."

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