Gone Fishing

circa 2005  The Light

I missed my daughter’s birthday this year and it wasn’t for the first time. During my working days even pressing business would not have that prevented me from sharing special days with my family .No this special milestone was missed because I had to get into my canoe and paddle and portage to Jim’s Place, our family’s fishing camp. I know my daughter will forgive me, she expects me to be away in early May. Like thousands of other Nova Scotians I was fishing or at least attempting to lure the fish out of the water and into the frying pan.

All winter long I dreamed about May flies, trout in a wicker creel and the warm cabin that my Uncle Jim built. When I wasn’t reading fishing magazines I was changing the channel from the NFL game to the channel where I could drool over the fish that the good old boys were catching in some southern State. Fish might be difficult to catch but I was certainly hooked at a very early age.

When I was kid my Uncle Roy had a 14 foot wooden boat called Kingfisher. He would take me to Hubley’s Lake near Head of St. Margaret’s. I would watch his every move and in my mind he was the perfect angler. He could lure the fish out of any lake. He would check out the fly hatch on the water and then search the bog or the nearness tree and take the same fly right off the branch and attached to his line. Needless to say he caught fish, fish so large and so good to eat that it even as a kid I couldn’t wait for a fish dinner, if the fish was trout. Years later when I was older and strong enough to help haul the camp gear, my Uncle Jim would take me back in the deep woods down the Eastern Shore. Somewhere between Dartmouth and my Granny’s house in Cape Breton my Uncle and his buddies from The Halifax Shipyards had a remote and somewhat quaint fishing camp. This was their secret hideaway. Remote, this place is so remote even that even the coyotes can’t find it. It requires hours of paddling and 4 separate portages to reach the lake. Once there you have only a short paddle to find our small island with its lone cabin.

This was and still is the reward for hours of carrying in all the gear that Canadian Tire ever thought of selling plus a few choice offerings from the government’s wine concession.

This year’s trip was a success despite the cool weather and high winds. We still enjoyed a shore lunch of fresh speckled trout and had a few to take home to treat family members that don’t fancy the annual trek. In short you could say that we went in the woods, we caught some fish and then we came home. The only trouble with that is that doesn’t tell the story of why we go on this annual pilgrimage to a remote spot in the hinterland of this province.

When my wife and I decided to move to the North Shore we were enticed by the quiet life and the availability of services in the North Shore area. There was the Lillian Frazer Hospital, local library, Post Office, a Doctor’s office and Foodland with the government’s wine/beer concession nearby. Waugh’s River was close to everything and most importantly we couldn’t get closer to fishing unless we moved to a house boat. My plan was to fish everyday on the river, at least for the first month of each season.

But that hasn’t happened to date. Oh yes I go down to the Waugh’s River, I cast a few flies downstream but my heart never seems to be in it. This year when I had traveled 200 kms to return once again to Jim’s Camp I was immediately and intensely back into my dream fishing scenario. Within 25 minutes I was on catch and release with 5 nice trout already in my creel. I waded out to edge of the point that juts out from the island and sighted my first pair of loons for the season. With the temperatures steadily rising and the fish once again taking the newly hatched May flies I wondered why I had returned yet again to this same fishing hole. The mantle above my computer is probably similar to the one in your home. Iit has many photos of friends and family. The Big One that get away that my son caught off Duncan’s Cove or my favorite photo of Buddy Down the Road with his catch of Brook trout. Memories of my uncles and the friends that I have made while fishing have given me a lifetime’s joy of being out in the wilderness and the knowledge that fishing is great way to spend a day or two, maybe even a retirement.


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