Katy Goes Fishing

Fishing has always seemed a most satisfactory activity to me no matter how one goes about it. A simple hook and line baited with an uncomfortably surprised earthworm dropped into a placid pool by a barefoot child or an elaborate fiberglass rod with its exotic hand-tied fly sent singing out over a rippling stream by the skillful cast of an expensively equipped sportsman, both bring the same pleasure. Hopefully they both bring the same delicious feast to follow.

Grandpa introduced me to a hook and line at a tender age and I did my first fishing in the stream at the Big Farm. Many a lazy summer afternoon we spent sitting on a mossy log watching the bobbers on our lines, the stringer tied to a tree root in the water at our feet gradually filling with brooktrout and bass. It was a time to dream, learn bird songs and watch light patterns shifting through leafy branches overhead.

When the sun began to sink to the horizon, Grandpa would clean our catch, give me a dock-leaf wrapped bundle of fish heads for the barn cats, and lead the way home along the sugarbush road. Supper featured a platter of fish, rolled in cornmeal and fried with saltpork. Delicious.

Since those far-off days I have fished in many waters including one of Canada's deep, cold lakes. Josiah and I several times joined a group of friends at Lake M---. There was no road around the shore so we and all our supplies went by boat from the village at the lake's head to the log cabin several miles further on.

There we lived in rustic semi-comfort for a week or ten days and fished to our hearts content. A local guide provided bait and recommended trolling or still-fishing according to his understanding of prevailing conditions.

Untouched forest held fast its grip on the blue jewel lake. Trees grew right to the waters edge except for a few bits of shelving rock, a gravel beach or two and our small, man-made clearing. The water was so cold, clear, sweet, and pure that we drank it without boiling. And the fish we drew from the lake's rich feeding beds were plump, sweet-meated monsters. You could catch enough sizable fish for breakfast by standing on the dock and casting a line. The big fellows, which we stuffed and baked for dinner, came from deeper waters.

During the day a warm sun spilled diamonds over the gently heaving breast of the lake. At night its black glassy depths reflected the silvery stars and the cooly remote moon. Bears visited our garbge pit while porcupines and raccoons made free of the cabin and grounds at every oportunity. A hatchet left over night in the chopping block would need a new handle in the morning, so greedy were the little fellows for salt.

Night fishing on the sleepy waters of our local lake has given me hours of pleasure, too, though not as many fish. The rhythmic swell of waves rock the rented boat enough to disturb the bilge water lapping at my feet. Cottage lined shores twinkle with bonfires and house lights. Trees reach dark arms to the sky while loons and owls call weirdly in their flights.

The line tugs and drags as the water toys with it. I slump on the all too thinly cushioned seat, shifting slightly from time to time, glad of the warm sweater I almost didn't bring. The faint plop, drip, squeak of oars and the rushing whine of a fellow fisherman's cast provide a backgournd to my thoughts. The soft summer air is perfumed by water weeds, fish, boats, and the rich mixture glowing in my companion's pipe.

Fishing is best on a wet, cloudy day, they say, or just after dawn or before midnight. Anytime, it seams, that would be most uncomfortable and inconvenient to any but an avid piscatologist. Choice fishing spots are kept secret and reached by circuitous routes. Deep-sea fishing to the devoted angler has the romance an Aftican safari has for an ardent hunter.

Happy is the parent whose offspring shares his or her passion for fishing. Theirs will be a close companionship, ripened by hours of peaceful comtemplation in nature's loveliest midst and seasoned by the excitement of a lively catch.