fisherman on the lake
As a young lad I was quite interested in fishing, trout and Atlantic salmon fishing, in particular. My Dad, although he was the one who initially installed the fishing bug in me, wasn’t always able to go because he had to work, and he wasn’t exactly the most successful fly fisherman on the lake either….but….
Our cottage neighbor was. In fact, he was probably one of the best salmon and trout fishermen of his era. The guy could catch a salmon in a rain puddle, I swear….When I turned 13 or 14, he took me under his wing and together we fished salmon rivers from one end of the province to the other.
This was in the 1970’s when there were salmon in a lot of those rivers, and in some cases, lots of salmon. Our neighbor, retired, with nothing on his mind but fishing, had lots of time to go, and the gear to go with, boats and 4 wheel drives, and a travel trailer, meaning we could go from river to river where ever the fish were and we did…a lot.
I was only young, and although I clearly idolized the man, I wasn’t aware of just how good a fisherman he really was until I got older and wiser and started really paying attention. I also couldn’t help but notice the awe that other fishermen had for him, some of it bordering on outright jealousy.
He could find a fish when other’s couldn’t. He knew how to “read the water” to know where I fish might lie. He knew what flies worked on what river and what pool. He also knew how to land a fish under almost any conditions. I saw him lose a few, but it was very few indeed. In fact, once he had one hooked, it was pretty much a done deal.
In addition, along the way he taught me something about being a man, about being tough, which is not a bad trait to develop. It takes a lot to get through life, and a little measure of toughness can help from time to time.
Over the years I have managed to channel some of that toughness to times when I need it, and keep it at bay the rest of the time. It has proven to be a useful ability, but I am digressing.
As I said, together we fished from one end of the province to the other, from spring run fish, to summer run to late season salmon in the fall. He became a surrogate father to me in many ways, and certainly a fishing mentor that other fishermen would have loved to have. Even in the winter, he would call me up and take me to the Salmon Association meetings.