There is always something wonderful about a new fishing adventure trip--for a single day, or for a week, or for months. The enchantment never palls. For years on end I have been trying to tell why, but that has been futile. Fishing is like Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece.
The most humble fisherman has this in common with fishermen of all degrees. Whatever it is that haunts and enchants surely grows with experience. Even the thousandth trip to the same old familiar fished-out stream begins with renewed hope, with unfailing faith. Quien sabe? as the Spaniards say. You cannot tell what you might catch. And even if you do not catch anything the joy somehow is there. The child is father to the man. Saturdays and vacation times call everlastingly to the boy. The pond, the stream, the river, the lake and the sea. Something evermore is about to happen. Every fishing trip is a composite of all other trips, and it holds irresistible promise for the future. That cup cannot be drained. There are always greater fish than you have caught; always the lure of greater task and achievement; always the inspiration to seek, to endure, to find always the beauty of the lonely stream and open sea; always he glory and dream of nature.
When I fished under the stark lava slopes of the Galapagos and in the amethyst waters around Cocos Island and around the White Friars I imagined each was the epitome of angling, that I could never adventure higher and farther. But in this same year, 1925, when we shot the wild rapids of the Rogue River and cast our flies where none save Indians had ever fished, the same elusive and beautiful thing beckoned like a will-o'-the-wisp. It is in the heart.
On December thirtieth, when Captain Laurie Mitchell and I stood on the deck of the Royal Mail S.S. Makura, steaming out through the Golden Gate bound for the Antipodes to seek new waters, the same potent charm pervaded my being. There was a Lorelei calling from the South Seas; there was a siren bell ringing from the abysmal deep.
San Francisco Bay at that hour was a far cry from the turquoise-blue water of the tropics. A steely sun made pale bright light upon the ruffled bay; gray fog shrouded the dome of Mt. Tamalpais; from the northwest a cold wind drove down on the bare brown hills to whip the muddy water into a choppy sea. The broken horizon line of the beautiful city of hills shone dark against the sky. A flock of screaming gulls sailed and swooped about the stern of the vessel.
A big French freighter kept abreast of the Makura through the Golden Gate, then turned north, while we headed to the southwest. The Royal Mail ship Makura was no leviathan, but she certainly was a greyhound of the sea. In less than an hour I saw the mountains fade into the fog. That last glimpse of California had to suffice me for a long time. We ran into a heavy-ridged sea, cold and dark, with sullen whitecaps breaking. I walked the decks, watching as always, until the sky became overspread with dark clouds, and a chill wind drove me inside.