I grew up in a fishing village. It was natural that I would learn how to fish. My Dad taught me. We learned to jig for cod and mackerel. And we went tuna fishing.
Although we didn’t get to use the rod for tuna fishing, we were too young and not strong enough, we had a job when we went and that was to chum the tuna with mackerel (like in the movie Jaws) and make sandwiches. Our neighbor owned a boat and he “jury-rigged” it with a barber’s chair so that they could follow the fish. One person would steer the chair while the other was strapped in with the rod. I can’t remember the size of the big one they caught but it made the front page in the “Le Voilier”, our local newspaper way back when as the biggest tuna ever caught in the Baie of Chaleur.
I’d like to mention that my father-in-law, all my brother-in-laws and my youngest sister are excellent fishers. My husband not. Being a biologist he prefers to study them rather then catch them. He also has no patience. Case in point, we drop the line and after a few casts he wants to move on to another spot. We repeat but you can’t catch fish when you are in a hurry. “Fishing = Patience”.
Catching fish for bait when at anchor is one thing and comes in handy for catching crab. But that is not my idea of fishing. No, I want to catch a big one, a salmon. One big enough for supper and leftovers for another.
Throughout our trip, we spotted sport fishermen close to walls and in 60 meters or so of water fishing. Slowing the boat down to a crawl, I tried repeatedly rod in hand doing the 3 light tugs, 1,2,3 followed by a quick hard tug like my Dad taught me. To no avail.
Until I met the Falconer brothers, who probably felt sorry of my missed attempts and took me fishing on their boat “Tintomara”. These guys know their stuff and are equipped with down riggers, flashers and good fishing gear. It took about 15 minutes to get to the fishing ground amongst a dozen or so other boats. Another 15 minutes to get the line organized and then we started to troll. First bite, within 5 minutes was lost. Their secret, anchovies attached to the line and hook. Reeled the line back in, attached another fish bait and back in business.
No sooner is the line back in the water, another bite. This time it’s hooked. Both brothers are coaching me as I reel it in. The weight is strong and line taut, rod bent to a 180° arc, drag set. The fish is fighting back, I can no longer reel it in.
“Let it go, the reel will do its job. When the fish stops struggling, start reeling again.”
I don’t know how long I kept doing this but all of a sudden I see a flash of silver. The fish comes to the surface, enough to see it’s a big one. And then all of a sudden, there is no pressure on the line.
“Damn, I lost it!”
“ No wait, keep rod tip up, it’s still on.”
Sure enough, it surfaced and then went down again. I’m reeling in faster now and then slowly as I bring the line beside the boat. The net is waiting.
Success! 13lb Chinook, definitely enough for supper and a few more after that. My biggest thanks and gratitude to the Falconer boys in helping me mark this off my list.