Last week a good friend succumbed to cancer. Though there was nothing formal Brian was an important fly fishing mentor to me. I met him a number of years ago not long after we had moved to Ottawa. I was relatively new to fly fishing and knew even less about local fishing spots.
I think we first met at a Trout Unlimited meeting. I listened as the guys there – none of whom I knew talked about fly fishing in the area. I tried to make as many mental notess as possible hoping to capture names of a few hot spots, techniques and whatever other bits of information they shared.
I don’t remember how Brian and I connected as a result of that meeting but the upshot was he invited me to fish with him and also introduced me to the local fly fishing club.
Those were the true beginnings of my entry into the world of fly fishing.
Last year while working in Japan Brian began to have some serious health issues and was eventually diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The prognosis was not good.
After what I am sure were difficult deliberations Brian and Ryoko decided to return to Canada for treatment and his final days.
Brian arrived in spring and although the cancer was taking a toll in his physical well being his fishing buddies were glad he felt up to joining us for our spring trip to Kenauk. On this trip most of us fish from float tubes so none of us, including Brian were sure how much fishing he would manage. As it turned out he did pretty well. The two of us drove up together and headed to a lake where we thought everyone was gathering before we checked into our cabin at Lac Sugarbush. For what ever reason the plan had changed unbeknownst to us so Brian and I fished alone. We had a great afternoon catching plenty of feisty rainbows.
Following a great start on Sunday, we had a couple days of pretty tough fishing conditions, too much good food and lots of talks and laughs. As usual Brian was full of opinions especially as we anticipated the results of the federal election.
Check out was Wednesday morning and different options were discussed as to how people wanted to fish the last few hours. Brian and I decided to try our luck at a brook trout lake that was on the way out of the preserve where we were fishing.
We got there to cold and light rain but decided to go for it anyway. From the put in Brian worked one side of the lake while I worked the other. It wasn’t long before I heard his firm “Fish on!”. And it continued for both of us for a couple hours before the cold and rain began to take its toll. I don’t have any photos of Brian catching his favourite square tails but he mentioned several times it was a highlight of the trip.
Through the summer it was clear from his weight loss that Brian’s condition was deteriorating. We managed to get out fishing a few more times but when I asked him about another trip in mid October to a local trout-stocked quarry it just wasn’t possible. Shortly after he landed in intensive care and then a hospice.
This week the battle came to an end. So I say goodbye to a fine fisherman and a good friend. Tight lines Brian.