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Monday, 19 May 2014

The Lure of the Atlantic Salmon

In our family, salmon fishing doesn't conjure up pleasant images for Rick or his mother Sylvia. When Rick was young, family vacations were spent in various locations along salmon rivers on the west coast of Newfoundland. The lure of the Atlantic salmon was a passion of my father-in-law, Melvin, much to the chagrin of his wife and son. Every year Sylvia and Rick spent the hottest days of the summer cooped up in a small trailer while Melvin spent blissful hours in the pursuit of the elusive Atlantic salmon.

                                                Salmon jumping up-river

Big Falls on the west coast of Newfoundland was his favourite fishing hole. It is a beautiful spot with fast flowing, pristine water, in the Newfoundland wilderness of Sir Richard Squires Park. This place was the Smith's home during their summer vacation each year. Melvin stood for hours, early morning and evening, when the salmon were feeding in their resting pools on the river. He would even flick that rod in his dreams.

                                                                Big Falls

Melvin often said, "I'm going for a few flicks now," as he gathered his gear to head to the river where he'd succumb to the enchantment yet again.

His wife and son never really understood the attraction. They were confined to the trailer because the flies were so bad; sand flies got through screens which were covered with cheese cloth. The heat was oppressive too. Sylvia and Rick felt captive in the tiny trailer.

                               Melvin, Rick and Sylvia watching the salmon at Big Falls

Melvin didn't notice the heat and somehow the flies didn't bother him either. It was as if the salmon had him mesmerized, making him immune to the aggravation of the flies and heat. He also enjoyed the company of the other anglers, fellow victims of the enchantment.

    Rick cooking salmon

There was a time when Melvin tried to interest Rick in fishing. However, Rick was immune to the mystic charm of the noble fish. He completely hated it. Many times in our married life, Rick spoke of his feelings about fishing. I knew which words or phrases would set him off and what he'd say when he got started.

                           Burning the effigy

Eventually we did a fishing intervention. Rick's parents brought a fresh whole salmon to Big Falls and we boiled it with potato and onion, our favourite way to cook the tasty treat. While the salmon cooked, we burned a paper salmon shape in effigy. Then Rick and Sylvia expressed all their salmon fishing frustrations as Melvin listened. We laughed a lot that day and in the years since then the salmon fishing stories aren't as frequent or negative.

                     Fish and camping tales

Obviously, what is pleasure for one person can be torturous for another, even for something as innocuous as salmon fishing.

                                                     Choking from the fire and the tales

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