The cabin where I was to meet my latest client was much more luxurious than I
had expected. I stepped out of my four-wheel drive to meet my client and his
wife. He was strong and solidly built. He looked like a model for an outdoor
catalogue. The fishing vest was stiff with newness and all the rest of the
equipment was shiny and untested. His boots were as white as snow. His rod
looked equally new and the line was shiny. He had his reel on backward.
Typical beginner, I thought. Rich, and like many rich people in my experience,
probably demanding too. I reached out to shake his hand. A firm grip grabbed
back. His wife, an attractive woman brimming with confidence, took a photo of us
and waved goodbye with an arm heavily weighted with turquoise bracelets.
First, I turned his reel around. He smiled and shrugged. Then, we began his
casting lesson on the lawn. To my surprise, he was one of those rare people who
connect with a rod almost immediately. 'I could just stand here all day and
cast,' he said, smiling.
We did not have to travel far to the water, since a perfectly sweet little
creek ran along the last nine kilometers of the rutted dirt road I had traveled
'Oh, hey! Look at that,' he said when the first fish struck. He was truly
awed. The second time a trout struck, his shouts of surprise and joy rang up and
down the creek, and we happily reeled in a sparkling 20-centimetre wild rainbow.
'Isn't that beautiful?' he said softly, and every trout after that was
beautiful, incredible, amazing, and fantastic. A little brook trout took the
fly, and I held it so my client could see the blue rings around the
bright-orange spots. 'That's the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,' he said
To be with someone who was able to treasure the moment the way he did made me
feel like I was exploring fishing for the first time. I showed him how to keep
his fly from dragging, how to fish the deeper pools. He was absorbed by the
techniques of fishing. And the fish, whether 15 centimeters or 25, were praised
like precious stones.
In the late afternoon, about the time the skin begins to feel sore from a
fresh sunburn, my client stopped fishing. His shoulders dropped, and he paused
to look at the water, the trees and finally, at me.
'I have to tell you something,' he said. 'This has been one of the best days
of my life. I wasn't supposed to be here right now. I've been very sick and my
doctors didn't think I was going to make it. I wasn't sure I was going to make
it either but everything is fine now. My wife gave me this fishing rod because
I've always wanted to fish. This trip is kind of a celebration for our family.
This really has been one of the best days of my life.'
I could not speak. I looked into his eyes and nodded. He smiled at me and
cast again. We left when we heard the triangle ringing for dinner in the
distance. His wife, who was waiting at the porch of their cabin, embraced him.
His family gathered around us, eager to share their day with him. They can
finally enjoy the simple pleasures of being a family on holiday and all the
things that I had taken for granted.
As I drove down the dirt road, my four-wheel drive bounced over ruts and
rocks as I followed the creek that had given us such a magical time. The next
day there would be a new fishing enthusiast to meet. I would not let first
impression deceive me into thinking he had nothing to teach me.