Okay, I’ll admit it. After 24 years, I have finally fished the Campbell River.
I’m not a regular fisherman. I do like to take a rod with me once in a while when I go canoeing and I’ve even caught trout.
But as for the iconic Campbell River activity, fly-fishing the Campbell? Never done it. I have always intended to. But there are so many things to do in this town that kept me busy and happy doing them.
Fishing the Campbell was always a goal. I knew it would happen some day.
Well, the day came last week when Mirror advertising salesperson Don Daniels made good on his threat to take me out some day.
I had a pretty good idea of what it was all about and what it took to get into it but, like many of the things on my list of projects to do on my house, I never got around to it.
But Don’s an avid angler – you can read his fishing report in the North Island Midweek – and coffee room conversation eventually morphed into a standing invitation. Well, the fishing is so good this year that even I couldn’t pass it up. A date was set.
So, there I was, one evening last week, standing in the brown, neoprene chest waders Don lent me. Green fishing vest on top. I was set.
Don took one look at me and said, “You look like Neil Cameron!”
For those of you who don’t know, Neil Cameron is that iconic local writer-editor who is well known for his devotion to the angling arts, and for whom I’m often mistaken. Usually when somebody is trying to sort out in their mind which local paper they saw some article or another in and with which they had a particular bone to pick.
But anyway, there I was channelling the author of Cameron’s Plaid and looking pretty good, I don’t mind saying so myself.
Out we went onto the flats below the highway bridge. Me up to my sternum in the Campbell River. I was fishing in the Campbell River. And it felt good.
It was a beautiful evening. Barely a whiff of wind. Clear Campbell water flowing around me. Salmon jumping near and far. Me casting and getting tips from Don who was doing his best to keep from laughing, I’m sure.
It was great. I even had a salmon swim slowly past me. The water was so clear I could watch it lazily make its way upstream right beside me. I could have reached out and grabbed it, it was that close.
And that was as close as I got to a fish that evening.
But that’s okay, I’ve been skunked many a time before while fishing. I don’t mind. It’s just nice to be out on a beautiful river, enjoying the kingfishers, herons and eagles. Casting my fly.
Hey, I’ve got the bug now. I’ll be back on the river again real soon. And If you see an angler being swept downstream, his neoprene waders filling up with water after slipping on the rocks, you’ll know who it is.
Wave at me as I float by and say, “Hey Neil, do you need a hand?”