written by Thor Erickson
photography by Tambi Lane
“I’ve got one!” my friend Thomas yelled from his fishing float tube. “Stop paddling!” he yelled, while frantically reeling in the rainbow trout that he had been waiting for all weekend.
Thomas’ flippers had fallen off and were now most likely at the bottom of Paulina Lake. I had hooked up a rope to his float and was paddling furiously, towing him back to shore with my kayak in the sudden rain and ferocious headwind. On cue, my eight-year-old son, also paddling against the wind, threw up his paddle. “I can’t do it anymore,” he said, joining the increasingly impossible tow rope. As I paddled on, feeling as if I was training for “The World’s Strongest Man” competition, I reflected on my friendship with Thomas.
Despite the day’s mishaps, Thomas is one of the best fishermen I know. In fact, he’s exceptional at many things. I met Thomas while acting in a local community theater production, and we hit it off instantly. He is a well-known blues musician, having played bass and singing for many blues acts. He is a skilled chess player, mushroom forager, storyteller, cook and best of all, a quick wit. He was the best man at my wedding, and gave an unforgettable toast worthy of a Dean Martin roast.
My recollection was soon interrupted. “I’ve got two! There are two fish on the line!” Thomas shouted. Somehow his line with a rainbow trout on it had snagged another line with a second, larger rainbow attached. I put my head down and paddled harder.
That night at our campfire, my arms too tired to hold a cast iron skillet, I watched Thomas adeptly prepare the day’s catch, and tell stories of how he would prepare his next. Here’s one of his recipes.
SERVES 4 TO 6
Note: This recipe requires a smoker, such as a Little Chief electric smoker.