Gone fishin’

Jottings Index

In the summer of 1979, Betty and I were enjoying a holiday with my cousins Bernice and Tommy, who were fortunate to live on the beautiful Vancouver Island. Tommy invited another cousin, Philip, to join us for a day of sea fishing.

Betty does not like being at sea, even on quite large vessels, so the thought of being at sea in a small motor boat appalled her. In any case, as it was a Sunday, we had previously arranged to attend the local Pentecostal Church. I apologized that we would have to decline the invitation. Tommy did not mind because he and Philip would still enjoy the day fishing together.

Tommy and Philip rose early, and after breakfast set off for the day. Tommy did however say that they would put into shore after lunch to take me out for a short sea trip.

Betty and I sat ourselves near the back of the church hoping not to be noticed or to have taken someone’s normal seat. After the opening prayer the Pastor, to our surprise and embarrassment announced that they were pleased to have visitors from the UK and asked us to stand so that all could see us. He then asked us where in the UK we were from and what church we attended. On saying that we were from Essex and that we attended a Brethren church, he said “we forgive you for that, and you are most welcome with us today”. During the service several people came across to greet us personally and ask if we would like to have lunch with them, which we declined. (not wanting to miss my sea trip).

As promised, Tommy and Philip cruised back to shore after lunch to pick me up. They were not a happy pair, neither had a single bite all morning. I was instructed how to bait my line which was already fitted with a weight and “flasher” (remember this was my first and only time I had ever fished). Tommy opened wide the throttle of the outboard motor and we hurtled out to sea carving a “groove” in the sea as the wake spread out behind us. We were soon half mile off shore. Tommy then slowed to a gentle pace and all three of us started to fish. Within minutes I had a bite, and needed help to land a seven-pound sockeye salmon. Then we all started to catch salmon, more than I can remember.

Perhaps it’s a good idea to attend church before going fishing on a Sunday!

The sequel to this story is that my catch of salmon was deep frozen and packed into a sturdy cardboard box, together with a generous filling of dry ice. On boarding the return flight to the UK, I asked if the air hostess would kindly put my box, which by now was covered in hoarfrost, in the fridge after the first meal had been served. (Catering was done rather differently in those far off days, and the 707 aircraft had large on-board fridges).

During the flight the Captain came back to chat with us, he wanted to know where we had been so lucky with our fishing, as he had no luck himself.

The fish was still frozen solid when we arrived home twenty hours later. After giving some to our neighbours, we had enough to last a year. The final twist to this tale is that as Betty was baking the very last fish, there was a car crash outside of our house. No one was seriously hurt, but one lady was rather shaken, so we asked her in while her husband was giving details to the police. She commented that our lunch smelled nice, and Betty told her the story how we had come by it. She then told us where she was from, and gave us her address and said that we must call on her next time we visit Vancouver.