Thursday, October 11, 2012

Deux Dix

Deux Saumon - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics
It's going to be a great day.  My chores are done, business has been taken care of and in an hour I'm going to meet Mom at the lake for an afternoon of fishing.  There's something about a pole, blue water, and the motion of casting a line that seems to fade away all the things that felt important yesterday.   I do love the taste of fish, especially rainbow trout, crappie, rock bass and  ... oh yes... Salmon.   But it's not for the dinner or the smell of a smoker cooking up a fresh catch that keeps me doing it.   It's the feeling of standing in a river.  It's the contentment of letting my eyes fix lazily on a fishing line and the anticipation of what might be swimming near by.   It's the current pushing against my legs. It's the red tailed hawk roosting on a limb watching me fish and hoping that I'll clean my full stringer of fish on the shore. It's the morning fog rising up to meet the sun and slowly revealing the beautiful painting that I'm lucky enough to be a part of.

Spending most of my youth with Center Hill lake as my back yard, my love for water and fishing began there.  I've spent countless days sitting on the shore, watching a bobber, day dreaming and sometimes bringing home supper.  It wasn't until I took a trip up to Quebec Canada many years later that I experienced my first fly rod and river fishing.   My plane landed in Montreal and my Dad picked me up there and we began the nine hour pilgrimage following the Saint Lawrence River out to the Gaspe peninsula.    Each mile we drove the "Frencher" it got.  Stop signs now said ArrĂȘt and "Hello" became "Bonjour".   As the river slowly widened and eventually turned into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the towns dotting the sea coastline became smaller and further apart.   We eventually arrived in Saint Anne Des Mont, which felt to me like I was arriving on the set of the TV show Northern Exposure.

The next day I was rigged up with waders and a fly rod and we set out to meet our guides to take us down the Saint Anne River.   Our guides spoke mostly all French and my Dad could translate and speak a little, but we mostly used hand gestures, smiles and laughter to communicate.    We floated in a long wooden Indian canoe that held all four of us, with our guides standing up in the boat using hickory poles to pry, push and navigate us down the river.   We'd stop in sections that had deep pools, where the Salmon would stop and rest from their journey swimming upstream.   It amazed me how these salt water fish knew to leave the sea and return to the river they were born in to lay their eggs.   The guides did their best at trying to teach me how to cast with the fly rod.   They would say "Duex.... Dix"  Deux... Dix".   Dad would translate "2 10  2 10".   Frustrated and laughing they would get behind me and pull my arm and pole back and say "Deux"  and then move it forward "Dix".  Finally it sunk in,  Oh... 2:00 and 10:00 .  My arm should come back no further than 2:00 and I should let the line slip through my fingers at 10:00.   It was coming together and now all we needed was a salmon (or Saumon in French) to nibble on one of our flies.  Just when I thought I had it down and looked like a pro fisherman,  suddenly I heard "ArrĂȘt ARRET ARRET!!!!"   I turn around and realized that I had caught one of our guides.   So the first day was mostly spent getting my Duex Dix down and untangling my line from the guides hat.   The salmon are truly respected and honored by the people here.  Fishing can only be done with guides, which helps keep them protected and catching them is something not everyone gets to experience.  They are peculiar in that the entire time they are in fresh water they are fasting. So teasing and tempting them with a worm or a fly is pretty much in vain.   I guess it's just luck if we happen to fish in an area where they are swimming through, but also it requires even more luck to cast out just the right fly, have it float across the water in just the right angle to hopefully bother the salmon just enough so that they decide to swim up and grab it with the plan to spit it out under water.   Well, my luck isn't that good,  though I went to sleep that night with the sounds of the river in the background and dreams of landing a 20 pound Salmon floating through my mind.

The next day there was a dense fog on the river.   The water felt really cold coming from the Chic Choc mountains and even though the waders kept me dry,  my teeth were chattering as I did my first Duex - Dix.   I watched the fly drift across the current and I could make out through the fog that my Dad was about to make his first cast too.   Like a bolt of lightning my line zipped through my fingers and on the other end was a salmon.   The guides came alive and began the hilarious game of charades trying their best to tell me how to bring in my catch.   I couldn't just reel him in like I typically do a bluegill.  This was at least a 25 pound fish and I had a 2 lb. leader on my pole.   Any pressure would snap the line.    The idea was to keep the line tight, but allow him to swim as much as he wants.  Let him tire himself out.  Whenever he swam in my direction I would reel in a little.   I moved up and down the river keeping the line tight and trying to slowly bring him closer.   When I saw him for the first time he was less than ten feet away and was breathtaking to see.  He didn't feel the same though and quickly decided to swim some more.   Ten feet of line turned back to more like fifty and the game continued.   I'm not sure how much time past, but it felt like a good hour or more and my legs and arms were shaking when we finally pulled him in.  I was in such a state of shock that I think I began speaking fluent French.

We caught two salmon that day, which was quite rare.   By the time we made it back into town to celebrate with a couple Molson brews, somehow the word had already spread around and we quickly became royalty.   Though fishing is simple in nature sometimes you experience a day that isn't like any other.   The song I'm sharing this week was written about my time in Saint Anne Des Mont.  There is a section of the song where I sing in a high falsetto and that's the red tailed hawk that seemed to join us everywhere we went on this trip.

I just got back from fishing with Mom and we too caught Deux fish, though ours wasn't big enough to pan fry yet.   We returned them to the lake, added another worm on the hook and allowed a conversation to flow as we cast our lines into possibilities.