Fish or no fish, a fisherman
Family anglers enjoy returning to scheduled streams
Richard Alexander looked around and saw everyone on the river had the same last name as his. That’s the point he knew how important salmon angling was to his family.
The former Stephenville resident, now executive director of Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, returns to the area when he can, to fish some of the Bay St. George rivers.
“It’s like a status of religion, it’s very important to me,” he said.
Charlie White’s connection to salmon angling has deep family roots. It’s something he’s been doing with relatives since the tender age of five, back in 1973.
The Stephenville man remembers his dad, Charlie White Sr., catching the largest salmon on Southwest Brook at the opening of that season and winning a fishing rod and reel from Handy Andy in Stephenville in their fishing derby contest.
His dad gave him the rod and reel, which he used for many years.
Those angling roots date back even further, with his grandfather — affectionately known as Laughing Charlie White — spending his summers on the rivers catching salmon to feed the family.
White said while he started fishing at five, he tied his first fly, a Blue Charm, when he was seven.
He remembers going with family members and camping in a tent on the north side of Southwest Brook near the mouth where it dumps into Main Gut.
While the good old days of being able to keep eight salmon a day are long gone now, White said he will be on the river during the summer anyway, even if he has to crawl to it.
He said he was out on opening day on Southwest and went up the brook but never rose a salmon. On the way out he saw four fish hooked near the bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway.
White said the first salmon he saves will likely be off Harry’s River, as they tend to be stockier there. These days he goes angling with his cousin Jackie Bruce.
Another day, he tried Fischell’s River. He lost two salmon and rose another about 20 times but couldn’t get it to take.
Despite heading back to the east coast last Tuesday emptyhanded, he said it was a great visit home, as he hadn’t fished on opening day since he was 15.
“I was just happy to get out and see some fish,” Alexander said.
He said angling is something very important to him personally as he grew up fishing with his dad Cyril Alexander, along with his uncles and cousins.
Alexander maintains he will leave it to the scientists to say how it should go when it comes to retention and catch and release.
“I think the best approach to salmon angling is based on fact and science,” he said.
Alexander plans to be back for more angling in July.
Charlie White of Stephenville first started salmon angling at the tender age of five years, as seen in this photo on Southwest Brook in 1973.