Little did I know a fishing day years ago would provide a memory of chuckles "If only I had a camera then," my wife said about the occasion. Shortly after my stroke, a realization hit me. It would not be physically possible for a long period of time for me to fish, hunt or camp out.
No longer would I enjoy hours of fun in my canoe on Lake Mattatall, in beautiful Wentworth Valley, Nova Scotia. Through prayers, my wife and doctor's patience, I was determined to get back on my feet, and fish once again.
"I have a surprise," my wife said as my recovery progressed to the point where I had increased mobility. She made sure I brought my fishing outfit before we headed into the country. An hour's drive later, we turned off the main highway.
LORDA was an interesting sign, but numbness in my right side continued to bother me and I allowed the information to pass me by.
We parked, signed in, scooped up some kernel corn bait, and then my heart pumped with excitement. A two-acre fishing pond was ahead of me. "Quite deep" Dave, the Caretaker said. I already felt a twitch in my casting arm.
My sluggish legs mustered enough strength to shuffle a short distance around the pond's edge. I dropped slowly into one of the white chairs for someone like myself, declared "disabled."
The word itself was disheartening, but what the heck, maybe a fish will cheer me up. "What kinds are here?" I asked my wife, noticing we were among the first to arrive.
"This place is for people who love to fish, but aren't very active due to a serious illness," she said. "So LORDA really stands for- Landsdowne Outdoor Recreation for Disabled Adults."
"You're not answering my question," I said with a smile.
"Try a couple of casts first," she answered with a mischievous wink.
First, I checked my telescopic rod, pulled my monofilament line to the end, and tied on a ball bearing clip. Then stacked several corn kernels on my number six single hook. No spinners or treble hooks were allowed here.
Leaning forward I tried my first cast in years. An electric shock of ecstasy rushed through my arm. After the satisfaction of my worm plunking against the surface of water, I settled back to absorb fresh air and the chance of a bite. Several brave mosquitoes landed on my hand and I watched them in fascination.
I was soon alerted to a familiar tug on my line. Adrenalin rushed through my body as I leaned forward, watching the line being dragged down. At precisely the right moment learned from years of fishing, I whipped the line to my left for a strike.
Now the tug was more pronounced and my quarry pulled hard, twisted downward then finally broke surface.
I excitedly lifted the tip of my rod to the single cloud above and frantically reeled my line in. Thankfully the drag control had the perfect tension. A few other fishermen came to offer encouragement. Pressure was on me to show this fish wasn't going to escape.
I worked my prize closer to shore, finally able to see its colors.
"A rainbow!" I shouted to my beaming wife. "A big gorgeous rainbow! Must be at least two or three pounds!" By now I was on my feet oblivious to any strain on my legs or arms. Back at my house simply walking to the bathroom was quite painful. Right now, I was in full-blown recovery.
As I continued to point my rod tip to the sky an exhausted fish dove above the watery surface. And I gleefully swung it around until it plopped on the grass beside me. "What a handsome fish!" I bragged to the gathering crowd.
Bending slowly I reached to grasp my magnificent catch.
As if afraid to let down his own friends by being captured, my fish gave one
hefty flip. "Aha!" I exclaimed. My quarry still had spirit.
Its second jump brought it closer to the water's edge. Now I was leaning with discomfort, one hand trying to grab the flailing fish, the other holding the rod, keeping the line taut.
The third flip released the imbedded hook and the trout landed belly up on the water's surface, where it lay exhausted. I came alive like a firecracker, dropped my rod and jumped into the pond landing up to my waist.
My mind kept saying, "Get the fish! Get the fish!"
I splashed waves of water in my attempt to push the fish closer to the bank. Then my hands swept the fish through the air, where it landed on the grass, flopping around trying to catch its breath.
The largest trout of my life was not going to escape the frying pan. No way. Losing my balance I landed on the grass, beside my prey. To prevent it from flipping back into the water, my arm reached out and tucked the three-pounder to my side.
"Aha," I exhaled with satisfaction. Now human and fish lay side by side, sun shining in my eyes, listening to half a dozen anglers clapping their approval. I could see my wife nodding her head in amazement.
Dave, the owner of this wonderful pond, assisted me to my feet, chuckling at the way I held firmly onto my fish. "I wish I had a video camera," he said. "I'm sure it would have taken first place on America's funniest video."
"Couldn't let the largest fish in the pond get away," I smiled.
"Well, not really," Dave drawled. "You see, I keep this place well stocked for folks like you. Must be another thousand the same size in there waiting to cheer up some other determined fisherman."
My wife and I still have a great laugh remembering that day.
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Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.