I grew up in a family that fished and fished a lot. It seemed my father and my brother were always either heading to some spot or another or else talking about it. Getting ready for opening day was a ritual in our home, serious business. After fishing, photos of the dead fish, with our without humans, were obligatory.
My father and my brother had all kinds of spots they liked to fish. Some were close to home and others further afield. Some very special ones were given to them by a fellow named Charlie. I remember Charlie just a little. I remember he smoked a pipe and I can remember his appearance and his voice – but that’s it. Charlie liked his drink (a lot), and my father used to say he fell into all the best trout streams in Ontario. Legend had it Charlie retrofitted his car interior with a bar so he could mix cocktails on the road. Times, fortunately, have changed.
Here is my father with his young son, my big brother, affectionately known on this blog as Salvelinas Fontinalis,
and a sturgeon which my dad claimed was 57 pounds and 57 inches. He used to say, “Son, it was bigger than you and better looking.” He caught it in the Nottawasaga River at a particular spot that was known to hold these huge fish. Over the years he hooked a number of sturgeon but as far as I know this is the only one he ever actually landed. He told stories about this fish for many years. This was going back a ways. I don’t think I was even born yet. Still I had to hear all about it. Salvelinas may remember some actual details, and perhaps he’ll share them in the comments.
This next picture features me as kid with a mess of nice trout. The thing is I’m pretty sure I wasn’t responsible for these trout, and I have no idea at all where we might have been fishing.
Sometimes, the trout were more important than the people. The next famous family photo features a mess of 21 chunky brook trout. All I can tell you about this is that I believe they lay the trout down on the hood of my father’s station wagon for this picture, not realizing that the oil from the skin of the trout would stain the hood (Salvelinas….is that true or false?).
I always liked this next photo. It features my father in a field proudly holding a nice trout above his creel. In those days, he always carried a creel or a canvas bag to carry out his trout. There was no catch and release. It was catch and eat for dinner. He would put a handful of meadow grass in his creel which he said would help keep the trout fresh.
My father was an unrepentant bank-napping worm plonker of the highest order. He had a knack for finding and catching trout and he did his best to teach me his tricks. He always used a light test line, and he liked to fish with dew worms hooked once through the collar, with no weight on the line. “Let the worm drift naturally,” he’d say. I remember watching him catch a large brown trout from a small stream one day doing this. He would let the worm drift under a log jam, into the bomb shelter where the big trout lived. I loved those days. My childhood on trout streams embedded in me a lifelong love of nature. It was a great gift he gave me.
Ah, I’ve got the fishin’ blues…