I’ve written about the passing of fishing buddies here before, and it pains me to find myself doing it again, but the cycle of life is what it is….so now I find myself at my keyboard, remembering Ken….
Some years ago, as a young lad, salmon fishing was my passion, and to some degree it still is, although the passion has dulled somewhat by my own advancing years and to be honest, a lack of fish.
The fishing pool that I frequented the most was not far from my family cottage, and I frequented it a lot….in fact, I chose to go fishing rather than my high school graduation, numerous dates, and work, among other things.
I thought nothing of driving to the cottage after work, gearing up the boat, heading across the lake, fishing until dark, and then driving home the same night, only to do it all again the next night. I was a bit of an oddity to my friends my own age.
In those days our pool was well fished over by several men from the area, most of whom were cottagers and retired guys, some were locals, and some, like my Dad and I, were transplants from town. The bulk of the guys were in their early 50’s in those days, men who had been to war, had worked hard all their lives, and for the most part had had fairly tough upbringings, if not tough, scarce, but through hard work and perserverance, they had earned their chance to go fishing.
One of the fellows, Ken Faulkner, always treated me with what I can only term as respect, often giving up his turn to me, as I was a brash young fella arriving late, having driven from the city, allowing me into the pool rotation, and a chance to try a fly over the pool before dark. (on a salmon pool, fly fishing ettiquette dictates that you take turns fishing, allowing everyone to fish the hotspot. Not all salmon fishermen are eager to let someone into the rotation..)
Ken was what I would describe as a “mans-man.” They all were, around there in those days. Tough, rugged men, who knew the outdoors and spent every minute they could outside. He was no exception, hunting and fishing, snowmobiles and boats, he was out there!
Ken didn’t know anything about fear, or if he did, he didn’t show it, running his boat at two speeds, no matter how rough or windy the lake was, “stop” or “go” that was all he knew.
He grew up on the lake and I’m sure had intimate knowledge of every rock hidden beneath the surface. And yet, he was a gentleman, kind hearted, and friendly, without a mean bone in his body. In fact, one of the kindest fellows I’ve ever had the pleasure of fishing with.
Ken and I spent many a fine hot lazy July afternoon on the pool, taking turns casting for salmon, often both of us falling asleep on the bench, basking in the sun, enjoying the sound of the river rushing by, the birds and the occasional fish splashing in the pool. We’d fish together all afternoon, split up and go home for supper and return after for the evening.
Although their were about 10 men who fished our pool, for some reason, as memory serves, it seems Ken and I ended up there quite often when no one else was around. It could have been because we were both bitten with the salmon fishing bug, and for us, for about two months in the summer, all else came to a halt, or perhaps the others had to work through the week, or went off to some of the bigger salmon rivers to fish, leaving our little salmon pool to Ken and I.
I will always remember those fine afternoons with my him on the pool, and how he would produce an apple from his pocket, one for him and one for me, always one for me.
I dipped quite a few salmon for him over the years, and he did the same for me. Together we had some fun and always got along well. Not exactly close, not like my other fishing buddy Joe and I had become, but friends nonetheless, and always, always, glad to see one another.
I remember him having trouble in later years to be able to thread the leader through the eye of a small fly, and how he used to pass the fly and line to me, silently, unspoken, and I would tie it on for him, always saying a silent prayer to myself that I had tied it correctly, that it wouldn’t come undone. He trusted me to do that. Over the summers, about 30 of them by my count, we had become friends.
So it is with sadness that I learned Ken, my friend, passed away this weekend, after a short time in hospital, overcome by a heart attack following an operation. He was in his eighties, still as tough as nails, and I am sure, still thinking about casting a fly over the pool. I regret not getting to see him one last time.
It brings a tear to my eye to think back on those fine afternoons, and know they will never come again for us, at least not in this lifetime. The jokes we shared, the outdoors wisdom he imparted into my young mind, the tales of hunting and fishing he could tell, that kept me on the edge of my seat for hours…and of course the apples…I will always remember the apples.
Thanks Ken, Tight Lines Buddy. Save me a spot in the pool rotation!
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