I’m not sure that the person who created the bumper sticker “The worst day fishing is better than the best day working” ever experienced a really bad day fishing, or perhaps he just really, really hated his job. And I use “he” unreservedly. Most women have zero interest in spending their spare time dangling improbable-looking lures into murky water, going on pure faith that there are a) fish down there and b) those hypothetical fish want to eat the ornate fluorescent doodad being dangled in front of them.
In the 2007 book, Nikkei Fishermen on the BC Coast, Their Biographies and Photographs (Harbour Publishing), over 3600 Nikkei fishermen are listed, going back to the late 1800s. How many women are on that list? Exactly one. There are admittedly, more women involved in recreational fishing, but they are still vastly outnumbered by the men.
Happily, my wife Amy is one of those exceptions to the rule. She grew up in a family of recreational fishermen and can not only catch fish with the best of them, she can clean and filet them with a surgeon’s precision, all good qualities in a mate, as far as I’m concerned. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a meal of smallmouth bass in front of a lake at sunset has only gotten it one way—by catching it themselves. You can’t buy it in stores.
I used to enjoy fishing with my father in Ontario when I was small. We’d catch little sunfish on bamboo poles and bring them home for my mother to fry up (again, you wouldn’t find her out in a tiny boat at six in the morning). It wasn’t until I met Amy, years later, that I took up fishing again and I always enjoy our time together on the water, searching for elusive bass or trout. While in Jasper a few weeks back we took the girls out to Maligne Lake and spent several hours on the lake surrounded by magnificent mountains, with the haunting cry of a loon calling to us across the water—now that’s quality family time!
The appearance of millions of sockeye in BC waters has been dominating the news over the past few weeks, a pleasant surprise given the generally alarming outlook for the vast majority of fisheries, not only in BC, but around the world. It has been a nice change to read of folks lining up at the docks in Steveston, once the heart of the Nikkei fleet, to buy fresh fish off the dock from books overloaded with fish. It’s not something I thought I would ever see in my lifetime, let alone my children’s.
Amy and I found ourselves in the middle of that sockeye run a few weeks back when we were at Port Refrew fishing for Chinook salmon with Amy’s dad Joel. The folks at the marina told us that the big action was out deeper where the sockeye were running. Surprised that a sockeye fishery was even open (this was before the news on the sockeye run hit the news), we headed out for deeper water and sure enough caught a number of nice sockeye plus, as a bonus, several Chinook including the 22-pounder you see in the photo.
In my experience, the worst day fishing generally includes not only no fish, but near-hypothermia, whitecaps, huge swells, seasickness, wet feet and lost gear, but a good day fishing . . .
now that’s something worth calling in sick for . . .
On behalf of the staff and volunteers at The Bulletin, I’d like to congratulate the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre on their tenth anniversary. It has been wonderful sharing the space with the Centre and Museum over the past ten years and we wish them all the best going forward.