Welcome to the 5th and final day of the blog tour celebrating the release of my Young Adult suspense novel, PUNISHMENT SUMMER! For a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, take a moment to visit Book Banshee and Deal Sharing Auntie's blogs!
And now for one more peek into Nicki's world as she adapts to living in the Mendocino Forest...
After breakfast, we loaded our gear. Grandpa pulled on his stinky vest and drove us to Rattlesnake River. Queenie wedged herself against me, getting her snout as close to the open window as possible without climbing into my lap. The trip seemed faster this time, maybe because, with six visits to the river under my belt, I now recognized landmarks like Half-burnt Tree and Cracked Boulder. Grandpa parked, and while I wrestled on my hip boots, Queenie explored the riverbank. By the time I carried my fishing pole to the river’s edge, Queenie had settled in the shade a few feet from the rushing water. A sweet trill mixed with the sound of splashing the water, then a chunky gray bird winged by. Queenie lifted her head, but stayed put under the trees.
Walking into the river wearing boots felt worlds better than trying it barefoot. The lug soles gave decent traction and, without the icy current burning my skin, I managed to wade thigh-deep. Down river from Grandpa, I positioned my feet the way he’d taught me, my right foot back, braced against the muddy river bottom and started casting. With each try, the fly landed closer to my target.
“Looking good. You’re no longer thrashing around like a badger in a bag.”
I smiled then faced the water again. My next cast flew true, landing upriver, dead center. As soon as the fly began traveling with the current, a fish struck. Remembering Grandpa’s lesson, I raised the rod tip. The fish ran, taking up the excess line. Between his runs, I reeled him closer.
“Keep the tension steady.”
“Right.” The fish gave a strong pull and danced to the left. I lifted the tip of the rod higher and let him run. If I tried to muscle him in, the line would likely snap – a lesson I learned the hard way the week before. After a ten-minute battle, I got him in my net and hoisted the speckled trout from the river.
“Caught yourself a beaut.”
Warmth spread through my chest. “He’s heavy, too.” The fish would feed us for several days. I waded back to shore and opened Grandpa’s creel. “Holy frijole.”
Grandpa turned. “Something wrong?”
“No. I caught one before you.” I closed the creel.