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fishing story

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I fished last summer for the first time in a long time. Having grown up in the desert, fishing, like hockey, is not a sport that comes naturally. Guys who grow up in Arizona have to go out of their way to fish. So my fishin' was limited to a few trout caught in mountain streams, bodies of water you could pretty well step across. But last summer, I spent a lot of time in a canoe and the urge to fish was overwhelming. It even managed to survive a trip to the fishin' stuff store where I was confronted with so many esoteric choices, it reminded me, uncomfortably, of a trip to the cosmetics counters at Eaton's. I grabbed a cool orange spoon and some jigs and beat it out of there before completely embarrassing myself. Once on the water, I was intrepid. I set out at sunset to catch a fish. Much to my surprise, I did. It was a Northern Pike, 14 inches on the guy scale. Pulling it into the canoe and grabbing it, I was appalled. There was enough grease on that fish to lube a Chev. When I finally got a grip on it, an act requiring a hand, boot and knee, it flashbacked on me why fishing wasn't my favourite sport. But I grabbed a paddle and whacked it dead anyway. What meat I was able to filet off it with a six-inch hunting knife was delicious. I was inspired. The next morning, casting from my island campsite, I hooked a fighter. When it came close enough to see, I was dismayed. It was another Pike. In the course of landing it, my lure somehow ended up in six feet of water and the fish on shore. Maybe I should have bought a net. Anyway, I stood on its tail while my partner fetched the killing paddle. In the middle of my backswing the fish slimed its way off the rock and back into the lake. No fish, no lure. An icy, unplanned swim retrieved the lure, quickly becoming my favourite, and this time I tied it on with a real knot. On the second cast a monster struck. As soon as he swam within view I knew I was going to need a bigger paddle. He was the size of a two-man submarine. Worse still, another Pike. Landing him without a net would be like catching a greased pig. I was getting scared. Fortunately, the Pike took charge. He jumped, flipped me a fin, bent the swivel clip straight and swam off laughing, with my lure dangling from his lower lip and — I swear — a pack of Camels rolled up in his T-shirt sleeve. So little time, so much to learn. G.D. Maxwell

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