I grew up in Newfoundland. I ate fish every day. When we had free time, we fished. Alternatively, we would collect mussels or clams, or if we wanted something different to do, we would hike into the hills to go fishing for trout. As young men, when we went camping, it was up the river to fish for salmon.
The beginning of summer vacation was always hallmarked by parties at Caplin Gulch, while we fished for … caplin. If the caplin was in abundance (as it always was), we would use the surplus in our vegetable gardens as fertilizer. Or we would add seaweed to the soil, which was a “byproduct” of our fishing.
Breakfast was most frequently fish. My mother loved to fish and we lived on the banks of a salmon river. Throughout the summers she would often fish early in the morning, so we could awaken to the smell of frying trout. Failing that, she would fry up cod’s heads. Or salmon. Sometimes, there would be “fisherman’s bruise,” made from the leftovers of the previous evenings supper. Since we ate fish every day, it always gave us a moment for reflection when others would specifically mention how they were having fish because it was Good Friday. For us, every day was Good Friday.
So you can imagine the shock when I came to the realization that I don’t like to fish. I’ve been thinking the thought for a few years now. I’ve been reminiscing about my exploits of the past and I’ve been wondering whether it was the fish I was seeking, or just the food, or perhaps the camaraderie of my buddies. Or was it just the expectation, the alternative of being a “non-fisherman” being too sacrilegious to even contemplate?
I’ve been trying out the words lately, saying things like, “I only like fishing when there are fish.” In other words, I’ve been fishing for responses, testing the waters before coming out of the closet with the admission that I don’t like to fish. So, that’s it then. I don’t like to fish. Can’t help it. Ancestors, don’t roll in your graves, or haunt me tonight (or for all eternity for that matter!).
Because of this diet thing, there has been a certain amount of pressure for me to fish, since fish is local. Tried a couple of times for whitefish. None. Tried for grayling, but could not disguise the fact that mostly I just want to drive the boat. It’s hard to catch fish if the line doesn’t touch the water…
But last night, last night I caught two grayling! And we fried them up and ate them and they were delicious and they brought back a flood of fond memories and now I think I’ve got grayling figured out and so am thinking about fishing, looking forward to it actually. So now I am confused, my conviction is being tested. Could I, in fact, enjoy fishing?