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Story ID:3901
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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“How would you like to go deep sea fishing? I asked my son Troy, passing him a hamburger. The noon sky was blue, like the color of robin-eggs. And seagull sounds were loud “ERK-ERK” sounds as they searched for any left over snacks.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Imagine being in a fishing boat, miles out in the ocean,” I said. “You might even catch the biggest fish of your life.”

“That might be fun,” Troy finally admitted. “On one condition,” I remember him saying. “We have to stay until I catch the biggest fish, without any help.” With summer holidays coming to an end, it would be a neat tale to bring back home to school chums. “Okay, let’s do it!” he shouted. Then plans were made.

On Saturday we drove out of Truro with images of huge codfish jumping around in our heads. It was also the first time in a while since visiting Halifax, since our holiday itinerary had already taken us to Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island.

As we crossed the MacDonald Bridge I saw his eyes feast on sleek ships below. “They’re from the Royal Canadian Navy,” I pointed out.

Down the highway ramp we sped, Water Street ending at a parking lot beside the waterfront. People milled about, some with large backpacks. We purchased tickets then joined the lineup. “I’m going to catch a monster,” Troy said to anyone willing to listen. Yes, he was in bragging mode now.

“We’re going on a Cape Islander built in the village of Chelsea. Not far from here,” I said. He always liked details, and this information was something picked up by another fisherman on the same trip.

Troy read aloud, “THE PUFFIN” as it flashed back at us in large letters on the side. After climbing aboard the forty-foot boat along with ten other passengers, the Puffin chugged forward into the Atlantic Ocean. “I’m going deep sea fishing!” Troy yelled, his excitement building. Actually it was the first time for myself as well. And I was quite thrilled too.

Far as we could see, the ocean stretched in the distance, the wind whistling loudly. Suddenly, as if awakening from a dream, there was temporary silence. The motor’s ‘chug-chugging’ had abruptly stopped, and ocean waves sloshed against the hull.

The Captain called out, “Time to fish!” causing everyone to scramble for the best fishing spot on deck. “We’re now seven miles out from shore,” he said. “This spot is about 25 feet deep.” The Captain explained how to use the rods and reels for ‘jigging.’ “Drop the sinker to the bottom,” he said. “Bring your line up about two feet. Then swing your rod up quickly and down slowly. If you feel anything, jerk on the line.”

“And reel in,” I added. There was a heavy sinker on the end of each line. Three hooks were tied about eight inches apart, with an orange feather helping them hide from their intended victims. I was first to swing my line over the side, with a loud ‘KERPLUNK!’ Moments later I heard a holler from Troy.

“You caught something!” Three mackerel fish flipped back and forth over the watery surface as I gave my son a triumphant smile. Eagerly I swung them into the boat.

“Attaboy pop!” Troy added a slap to my back. “My turn.”

Others were also lucky, as their prizes swung across the deck. Mackerel, Blue fish, Pollock and a few Cod were quickly filleted by the Captain then placed in a large tub, then covered with crushed ice. By now Troy was having his share of success, except it was annoying to see he was being too fussy.

“Not this one,” he kept saying. “Not that one either.”

The Captain tried to help us gain better results by moving the boat to different locations and depths. Now we were in sixty feet of water and nine miles from land. I thought for sure this was the right spot for any first time deep-sea fisherman.

“Troy,” I said. We’re running out of time. “You should bring home at least one fish.”

“Nope,” the stubborn boy answered. “If it isn’t the biggest, then...” and he let his words linger. He carefully compared the size of each catch to the others. “Nope,” he muttered over and over. And once again threw his fish back. Of course, the fish didn’t mind.

By this time I was getting quite exasperated. “That Codfish you just caught must be the one you’re planning to keep,” I said so patiently.

Troy carefully studied his newly hooked fish. It looked odd with huge lips and wide fins jutting upwards from a brownish body.

“Hurry up and make a decision,” I said through tight lips. “Your hook didn’t damage the fish, but he can’t stay out of the water too long.”

Everyone stared as the boy checked out the stack of filleted fish in the ice chest. He shook his head and glanced around the blue painted deck. It’s amazing what must go through someone’s mind when an important decision is about to be made.

I could almost read his mind as he looked around. If only he hadn’t bragged about hooking the largest fish today. He must have figured it was too late to back down now. Then I held my breath as Troy slowly walked to the edge of the boat, closed his eyes and gently released his fair-sized Codfish.

I came and stood beside him, knowing he needed his dad close by. Just then, the boat captain announced loudly, “Pull your lines in! Time to head back to Halifax harbor!” Troy and I watched as sailboats plowed through the whitecaps. Poor kid, he didn’t have one teensy fish for his mom waiting back in Truro.

“They’ll understand son,” I said quietly. Clouds were puffy-white in the sky. And the sun was doing a slow burn on Troy’s face, as he turned to me.

“Dad, can we try again next summer?” he asked.

* * *

© Richard L. Provencher 2007

Richard & Esther Provencher invite you to read their first of three novels ‘FOOTPRINTS” now available from www.synergebooks.com. “Someone’s Son” and “Into The Fire” will also be available soon by the same company. These books were written during the first several years while Richard was recovering from his stroke, which felled him in 1999. He is still recovering.

The link to “FOOTPRINTS” is as follows: http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_footprints.html