Never Caught a Fish!
I’ve caught a cold, and I’ve caught a ball, but I’ve never caught a fish. Well, when I was a kid we used to catch bullheads, shiners and the occasional small mud shark off the pier, but never a magnificent fighting salmon, or a rainbow or steelhead trout.
I certainly have had the opportunity. For 2 years from the 24th of May to Labour Day, every Saturday and Sunday, I would be on a boat called “The NW Seawatch” broadcasting fishing reports every hour from 6am to 6pm on radio station CKNW. The skipper of the 30 foot SeaRay boat was Fred Ledgeboko. Fred was a real fishing enthusiast who kept a journal with a detailed report of every time he’d ever been fishing. He’d report on the sunrise and sunset, the weather conditions, the tide, temperature, depth of line, type of bait, every detail. In down times between radio reports, we’d be known to wet a line or two. He’d often go home with a fish, and me, Nada! Never even a nibble in 2 years. Fred thought maybe I had some kind of natural oil on my hands that scared the fish away, so he would bait my hook and even let the line out for me! But still, nothing. Never caught a fish. Boats all around us were hauling in their catch, but not me. I know you must be weeping sympathetic tears and playing tiny violins for me at this point, but wait, it gets worse.
Years went by and one day I was contacted by two young women who were planning a fishing show for tv and wanted to know if I would like to be a guest on the show. I said that I’d love to but warned them I had never caught a fish! “Not to worry” they said, “you’ll catch one with us!” So I arrived at Horseshoe Bay at the scheduled time and boarded their boat. The skipper of the boat had gone out early that morning and caught a nice 5 pound salmon and put it in the bait tank for safe keeping, just in case I didn’t catch a fish. He said “so if you don’t catch a fish, at least you’ll have one to take home and put on the barbecue tonight.” There was a camera crew on board, and another camera crew on the following boat to catch all the action of the mighty fighting salmon. Well, the day went along as planned, we trolled back and forth along the coast of Bowen Island, had fresh bait and were all ready for the big strike. I guess I don’t have to tell you, the big strike never happened. Well, not a salmon strike.
The day wore on, and as we kept trolling back and forth, I took the cameraman aside, and told him I had a plan. I said, “remember that salmon the skipper caught earlier this morning and stored in the bait tank? Why don’t we tie a fishing line around it, toss it over the back of the boat, then I’ll pull hard on the rod, the reel will sing, and you pan out to the water and we’ll pretend that I caught the fish.” He agreed. So we tied up the salmon with a fishing line, tossed the dead fish over the back, he panned from the reel out to the ocean, and there was the salmon, floating on its back, white belly shining in the sun! It looked like a dead fish! Because it was a dead fish, not a fighting fish that makes for good television.
As I started to reel the dead fish back to the boat, something caught my eye. It was an eagle in full flight, talons extended taking direct aim at my fish! I started yelling and waving my arms, and the eagle banked to one side and flew up into a tree. It sat in the tree, staring down at our boat, and if eagles are able to wonder, I’m sure it was wondering what that was all about! The cameraman and I tried one more time with the dead fish trick. Over the back it went, the camera pans out to the water and once again we see the white belly of the dead fish. But the eagle had had enough and was once again in flight, took direct aim, struck the fish and took off with my dinner clutched in its talons! Now the fishing reel was singing, and the cameraman really had something to record!
But the action didn’t last long, as one the hosts of the fishing show ran over, and cut the line with a knife. The change in tension must have startled the eagle, if eagles get startled, and it let go of the fish! Off flew the eagle, and down went my salmon into the ocean.
I asked our host why she cut the line, and she said it wouldn’t look good if the Department of Fisheries saw us, they might think we were baiting for eagles! That wasn’t our intent, but she had a point.
So, the day was done, the bait tank was empty, and once again I went home fish-less. My sad record of never having caught a fish remains intact.
I may not have caught a fish, but I can now say, I’ve caught an eagle!
Till next week...
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2
White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2