Fish or no fish, a fish­er­man

Fam­ily an­glers en­joy re­turn­ing to sched­uled streams

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - FRANK GALE

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.

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