James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the Salmon Arm library.(File photo)

James Murray tells a story for a small crowd at the Salmon Arm library.(File photo)

Column: Looking forward to winter getaway

Who cares that it's snowed so much recently or that it has also turned bitterly cold, because in a couple of weeks from now I'll be enjoying two of my favourite things.

Who cares that it’s snowed so much recently or that it has also turned bitterly cold, because in a couple of weeks from now I’ll be enjoying two of my favourite things.

Well, two of my favourite things associated with fishing and the coming of spring.

In two weeks I’ll not only be taking in the annual B.C. Sportsmen’s Show, with a bit of luck, I just might also have the opportunity to tie into a six- or seven-foot, 200- to 250-pound sturgeon. Come the first weekend of March, my friend and fishing partner Cory and I always make a point of meeting up in Abbotsford to take in the Sportsmen’s Show. If nothing else, it gives us a chance to walk around, look at all the new high-tech gear and talk to tech reps and sales people. I like it when their eyes light up because they think I just might be in the market for a new rod or reel. Mostly, I just pick up brochures from all the fancy fishing lodges. You never know, I could win the lottery.

More important, it also gives us an opportunity to get together and plan several fishing trips for the coming season. This year we’ve decided to fish a couple of the rivers on the Island – the Campbell, the Oyster and the Gold. As with each new fishing season and each planned trip, there is a certain air of expectation and excitement. Somewhere along the line, we both discovered that with the coming of each new season, we both have a similar, deep-rooted need to get out on the banks of a river somewhere, anywhere, and cast our lines to fish holding along the runs and riffles.

I look forward to just standing there, breathing in the cool, crisp morning air, feeling the sun on my face, looking around and enjoying the sense of camaraderie that comes with standing and casting a line with someone who I have long considered a friend.

It’s hard to explain, but when I’m on the river I feel good just being there – whether I catch fish or not. Time spent casting a line gives me an opportunity to both reflect on the past and contemplate the future. Things make more sense when I’m on the river; personal problems and complicated situations become simpler and less important. Things just sort of fall into place and the burdens of my life are lifted from my shoulders. For a few precious hours I am able to leave my worries behind.

Another way of putting it I suppose, would be to say that for those few precious hours, I simply don’t give a damn.

On those occasions when I do actually manage to get a fish on, well, all I care about is the moment. When I’m fighting a fish, it’s just me and the fish – the eternal struggle of predator and prey. In those minutes I find myself responding to some primordial instinct, some ancient need to pit myself against nature. Nothing else matters.

All I know for sure is that when I’m standing knee-deep in the fast flowing waters of a river or stream somewhere, casting my centre-pin rod to a salmon or steelhead, I’m happy and I’m content. There’s nothing more exciting than tying into a bright, shiny, silver 10-pound spring-run salmon or a winter-run steelhead that hits like a freight train and steams off line like there’s no tomorrow.

Of course, fighting a three-pound rainbow trout on a four- or five-weight fly rod is pretty exciting too. And then there’s hanging on while a 250-pound Fraser River white sturgeon tests your very fibre. They truly are magnificent creatures. (If you want to know more about white sturgeon and/or wish to support ongoing conservation and enhancement programs, you can contact/join the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society.)

Which brings me back to the B.C. Sportsmen’s Show where the Sturgeon Conservation Society will likely be set up to provide information and sign up memberships. This year, while I’m chatting with the tech and sales reps and gathering brochures, I have to also make a point of stopping by and visiting the fellow who makes and sells the fudge. Who knows, this might be the year that I spring for a new steelhead rod or book myself into a fishing lodge.

All I need is this week’s winning lottery ticket and this will be the best Sportsmen’s Show ever.

Salmon Arm Observer