Until about age seven, we lived in New Brunswick. I don’t remember much of it other than some choice experiences with my family. It’s funny how we tend to remember those, isn’t it? My father and I loved to go fishing and, every other weekend, we would venture off to catch as many Rainbow and Brook Trout as we could muster.
He always had a “secret fishing hole”…I think all Dad’s have these. On this particular occasion, from what I recall, it was down a long dirt road. On one side was a water reservoir, and this emptied through a big pipe, under the road, into another reservoir which was very deep, apparently. As my Dad explained, the fish would get pulled through the pipe so we fished on the side in which it emptied.
Still new to an open reel, I would use a closed reel for casting. Dad would set me up with a bobber, and a worm hook to which he made me feed the worm on to. At the time, I hated it…I don’t care now. He would fish near me with a lure and I would sit on the bank, watching that bobber for hours, just waiting for it to move. Sometimes, when I was bored, I would jerk it a bit when Dad wasn’t looking and say, “Dad, I had a bite!”…though, there were no bites. He’d always agree, pretending to be excited.
However, things were about to change. He had pulled in a couple of fish already so I needed to catch up. It was silent. Neither of us were speaking. The air was cool and there wasn’t a sound for miles. The bobber started showing ripples. I gasped, and my eyes were locked. It rippled again. Then, it went down hard and fast. I was so excited I almost dropped the fishing rod in the water. I grabbed hold and slowly started reeling in. It was fighting hard, so hard that it was actually pulling line out, against the drag. My Dad was verbally guiding me from afar. I stood up to get better leverage. If you have ever fished trout, you know they are very big fighters. It was very exciting.
Suddenly, the line went dead. There was no fight and yet the bobber didn’t return to the surface. It felt like it was caught on something so I pulled hard to try and free up the line. I took one hand off the rod to extend my arm out over the water to see if I could free it up. Unexpectedly, it took off again. The trout was faking me out. I started to fall towards the water. Just when I was about to let go and hit the water, I felt a hand on my belt from behind, pulling me back. My Dad was yelling, “I got you…don’t let go…don’t let go!” So, with amplified determination, I didn’t. I started to reel harder and harder. And, my Dad never let go. I remember thinking “How big is this bloody fish…it feels like 100 lbs!”. But, I didn’t let go. It fought for what seemed like forever.
Finally, after fifteen more minutes, this Rainbow Trout finally succumb. It was a big fish…almost 15 lbs. In fact, we went a registered it. I came in second place in a monthly fishing contest at a local sporting goods store. And, it tasted amazing.
I think what I appreciated most about this experience was my Dad telling me to not let go. In my life, I have sometimes felt that I have been so close to reaching a goal, and I’ve let go. I’ve given up before I should have. When, if I just hung on a little longer, the objective would’ve been reached. A wise man once said, “It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, it’s just you haven’t done it long enough yet.” And sometimes, hindsight is always 20/20, right? Thanks, Dad. Though you’ve been gone since 1984, you’re still able to teach me things.