It all started on my grandfather’s farm when I was 10 years old, during the Great Depression. When my chores were done, I dug some worms, got my cane pole and headed for the old mine pond.
Maybe three hours later, I had my stringer full of chunky sunfish and bluegill. My grandmother was always pleased.
In the Navy, I sometimes saw dolphins and porpoises surfing our bow waves. Occasionally we spotted a whale. Once we saw a pod of Orcas.
After taking one trip to the Great Slave Lake in the Canadian Northwest Territory, where I caught 155 lake trout in a week averaging 21 pounds, my future vacations were set.
Over the next thirty years, I was able to arrange my vacations and fish for freshwater trophies in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada.
I also fished the Columbia, Deschutes, Lewis and Fraser rivers in the Pacific Northwest. I caught a 90-pound white sturgeon in the Fraser River.
Rivers in British Columbia provide Chinook, Coho and Steelhead salmon in lengths that will boggle your mind.
Years ago, I caught rainbow trout in Lake Lanier. Soon after Lanier was stocked with stripers, the trout were gone.
I’m not fond of saltwater fishing, but while on vacation in Destin, I entered a local tournament and caught a 50 pound Cobia in a trench within sight of our gulf-side motel.
I had many customers who had farm ponds where I caught big mouth bass. In one pond, I hooked the biggest snapping turtle I had ever seen. It was a magnificent creature, possibly thirty pounds. With my tongs, I carefully removed my hook. The turtle could bite my finger off. For a moment I considered turtle stew, but I decided to release it back into its world.
The photograph of the northern pike is always in a museum in my head. Fishing the Wolverine River in Nunavut, I caught the fish twice in four days. The fish was recognizable by three scars behind its dorsal fin. The Indian guide I was with had caught her before and named her “Big Momma.”
Three strokes have stopped my traveling but good memories remain. Canada has a catch-and-release law, so they will always have great fishing.
Bill is a 92-year old WW II Navy veteran and retired President of York Furs in Buckhead. You can contact him by email at Sioux2222@gmail.com