The U-fish

"U-fish pond" means a pond stocked with fish located on private property ... NS regulations

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Twice a year Vern, Roy, Noble and I would visit a U-Fish pond. You know, the kind of place where you pay to fish. You have to keep what you catch. We've never caught a fish less than two pounds. At four dollars a pound it doesn't take too many fish before you're handing over fifty dollars.

It's a tradition we started many years ago in order to accommodate Noble who has two artificial knees. When you're his age, and been a carpenter all your life, you're entitled to artificial knees. It doesn't seem to affect his sex life, except he admits to making a lot of clanking noises. I stay well clear of him when there's lightning around.

Noble

Noble loves to fish. He's not that skillful, and he'll be the first one to say so, but he gets so much enjoyment from everything that goes along with being on a pond. He's a worm and bobber man. I've seen more of his worms land in the bushes than in the water. He has this habit of flipping the brake on his spinning reel before he's got ten feet of line out on the forward cast. Sometimes the worms part company from the hook and go shooting into the middle of the pond. Other times the rod reacts by whipping the line back past his ear and we've got flying worms. The swallows love it when they see Noble coming. It's one big picnic for them.

lunchtime
Lunchtime

Talking about picnics, Noble brings the best sandwiches. Huge hunks of ham with hot mustard, or roast beef that melts in your mouth. At home Noble does all the cooking. We'd sit in a line, under the big birch, facing the pond, waiting for Noble to open his cooler before we opened ours. Then we'd drool and wait for him to offer them around. It's part of the tradition. Vern and I talk about Nobles sandwiches from one trip to the next.
RoyRoy doesn't smoke. Well, he doesn't buy his own that is. But when he's fishing he smokes.
"Paddy, give us one of those," he'll say when I open up my pack. He'll walk halfway round the acre pond when he sees me light up. False casting the entire way. Floppy hat on, sunglasses tilted across his stubbled face. He'll light up, stick the smoke between his lips and false cast his way back to where he started. I don't know if he really smokes it. Just keeps it between his lips.

Noble's the only one that uses spinning gear, the rest of us flyfish. Stocked rainbows love worms and corn, at least in this pond they do. Catching them on a fly is a challenge. I know what fly'll get them but I sort of like to spend my fifty dollars slowly. I'll try everything in my box before lifting out that big old egg sucking leech. I'll take lots of breaks and get my kicks out of watching Noble hook a big one on his gob of worms. He loves to let them play before setting the hook and seems fascinated by the sight of his red and white bobber racing across the pond. He'll let them do this for ages. I keep waiting for him to strike. I've seen my kids do the same thing.

The fishing was awful slow for me this one time and even the egg sucking leech wasn't working. Noble was doing his usual thing, watching the bobber go up and down. Roy was playing, cigarette between his lips. Strange thing was though, Big Vern was getting a strike on every cast. I knew he was using a dropper setup. That's where you put two flies on the same line, the top fly acts as a bobber while the lower fly sinks below the surface. I could see the huge orange hackled deer hair bug on top and assumed he had some kind of nymph as a dropper. I mean, after all, we're fly fishermen.

Not to be outdone I loaded up a similar setup. I had a knock now and again, which I suspected was simply a fish cruising by, but no takes. I was puzzled. I had to find out what he was using for a dropper. I worked my way over to Big Vern and watched another one strike at his fly. We always ask one another what we're using so I wasn't shy about posing the question.

"What ya got on for a bottom fly, Vern?" I asked
He looked at the ground, up in the sky, out to the pond. Everywhere but in my eyes.
"A large pheasant tail." he chuckled. "And," he paused between chuckles, "a hunk o' worm."

Vern
Vern and a worm.

2013
Sad to say our visits to the U-fish have become a thing of the past.
Noble has been in the Veterans Hospital for the past three years and Vern, Roy and I do not have the inclination to take the trip without him.
Besides that, the place we used to go to has closed down.

December 2nd, 2015.
Noble has gone to that big pond in the sky where I am sure he'll hook up with Leslie, and they'll go a-fishing together.

Tales Casting contest I Tangier River I Boyhood memories I Newfie salmon I Muddler's memories I Does a bear? I First ever salmon I The Tickmobile
U-Fish I 4 a.m. I Lyin seasun I Anecdotes I Fishgirl salmon I A natural fly I Main Event I Honeymoon I Vernon I Leslie I Coyote? I Newfie trout I Fantasy

Pat Donoghue, Canada, ©1997