I was five or six years old when my grandmother Irene took my brother and me down to Sisson Brook, a small stream located a few steps from the camp my grandfather had built in the forest of northwestern New Brunswick. Arriving on site, "Mémére" proceeded to cut down a few alder branches , to which she attached about fifteen feet of black fishing line (quite similar to the backing I now have on my salmon reel). It couldn't have been a more basic or rustic fishing rod, but we were in awe that she could construct such a pole in a matter of minutes. After tying a hook at the end of the line, she showed us how to bait it with a worm.
Alder in hand, my brother and I, standing on the small wooden bridge that spanned the stream, attempted, following my grandmother's advice and with her encouragement, to float the baited hook to a deeper part of the stream, where we could see a few trout resting in the shade. After a few attempts, one of the trout launched itself at my offering. Inmy excitement, I pulled so hard on the alder branch that the poor speckled trout shot out of the water and passed over our heads, dropped the bait and continued its flight to land in the tall grass a few feet away from us. At first I panicked, thinking I had lost my first capture ever, but with the help of my grandmother and brother we were able to locate it. Although the fish was less than ten inches, to me it was a trophy that I proudly brought back to camp that morning.
To this day, some sixty-four or five years later, I remember how proud I was not only to have caught this little trout, but how much happiness my grandmother seemed to have garnered from my achievement. As a grandparent, I can now truly appreciate the joy she felt to have been able to live this moment with us. Looking back, I know that those few precious moments I experienced on that sunny July morning decades ago were the spark that ignited my passion for fishing. In fact, it has intensified especially when I later discovered fly fishing and fly tying, activities that I continue to pursue and cherish.
This grand adventure has brought me so much pleasure and serenity to my life. It wasn't until after many years of angling, that I realized that it was, as many others have understood, much more than a quest to catch a fish. Those who share my passion understand it. For those who don't have the “bug”, I only wish they have or will find an activity, pastime or pursuit that can provide them as much pleasure and fulfillment as fishing has brought me all these years spent angling for trout, salmon, pickerel and other species. I often wish that my grandmother was still with us so I could share these thoughts with her and thank her for the huge gift she gave me that day.
As I write these few words, I hope that one day I too will be able to spend such moments with my grandchildren. The rods used will certainly be more modern and refined than the alder stem I used to hook my first trout but I hope with all my heart that this will bring them as much pleasure as it did me and that they will remember it with fondness. I know I will.