Wild Fishing

Wild Fishing


Paint my west blue, when the lakes were still clean,

with no water  skiers

when my father would yell at us  to be quiet or we’d scare the fish and right then drop his new trolling rod into the lake.

If we were really lucky we could row, or use the 3.3 motor over to the float in time to pull the rod up, if the tension was right.

Sometimes not, and the lake was clear enough to see the tiny bit of red sigh right down past the line of dark, never seen again. At least not by us

and then his yelling

would scare all the fish away.

But that would be before one of us would tangle the spinning reel beyond what a cat with wool would be proud. So, we’d all wind in our rods while he fixed the mess, being all out of yelling for a while. He would sigh and we’d all sigh, even my mother in the helm, from behind her book.

But sometimes that rod tip would bend like a ballerina bow, like a cartoon character zipped right off the page and we’d all be yelling “Got one! Got one,” We’d be wild alright.

My dad would be yanking the sticky net out of the sludge in the bottom of the boat to get into the water before the fish got too close, and be scared, as if we were going actually scare it any further, being yanked toward all that yelling and that shiny bottomed punt.

“Keep the tip up, kept the tip up” “Slow, slow, give it time”

And all four of us kids wanted to lean over the side to see that flashing trout come up with that hook and my mother who didn’t swim would be yelling now, “You’re tipping the boat, you’re tipping the boat”. I guess she was a little wild.

But we’d bring that fish in, proud and breathing at least as fast as the fish its gills billowing out and in while we checked for the 6” rule, “Just a pan fryer”, my dad would say, no matter how big or muscle-strong flaking iridescent that creature might be. Then pushed, a slippery prize, scraping its last wildness against that old wicker creel, or hit with the bonker while it moved like a spastic S at the bottom of our boat, scared, no doubt because of our yelling.

Maybe we all have days in the west like that, hooked, yelling, tipping, breathing hard, and then, if we lucky, still alive, afloat. 

Paint my west blue, a renaissance of memories, a child in the wild.



Karen Bissenden


KL Bissenden writes a newspaper column and has been published in anthologies of  non-fiction, fiction and poetry. She won the Joyce Dunn prize for non-fiction and the M. Manson award, for combining verse and multi-media after which she attended the University of Victoria, for creative writing.

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