Predictably, this year's opener was rather slow. A warm winter & early thaw contributed to the steelhead beating a hasty retreat to Lake Ontario & Lake Erie. Low and clear waters, bearing only the palest remaining tinge of last week's rains, did not help much either.
However, some stretches of the rivers I fished did make for surprisingly good fishing, providing among others the spawned-out male in the caption, above. I also managed a pair of wild brown trout, which is always a big bonus in southern ontario. Furthermore, I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a doe and her fawn.
But, best of all on most days I was joined by my father (his first opener), some of my steelheading buddies (Mike & Andrew), my brother in-law, Richard, his brother, John, and his "Schöne," Inge. The highlight of the opening weekend, therefore, was only indirectly related to fishing: a camping style fish-fry by the banks of one of my favourite tributaries. We sat in the shade of newly unfurled leaves, savouring the rare treat of the freshest, butter-fried trout possible. I don't usually like eating fish, but with Mike as the cook, it's a no-miss proposition! He turns it into candy every time.
Close on the list of highlights was the final day of fishing. It was only my father and I, and he managed all the fish! It was a great honour to "teach back" to the man who first instilled the love of angling in me. He's still not used to long steelhead rods & is only starting to get the hang of rigging the float, spacing shot etc... but he catches on quickly. Watching him fight and land a lovely spawned-out hen, pushing 10 lbs, was truly joyous.
So that settles it, again: the sport of angling is not all about catching fish. To be sure, the trout themselves are a precious (in my opinion priceless) resource. But whether one fishes alone or with others, a communion occurs whose blessings and rewards are only partially attributable to the fish or the fishing. There are no words to label it, which is good; only the secure knowledge of time well spent, out of a bank that proves, in the end, far too poor.