I grew up in Cobble Hill, BC, and while I was in high school, my best friend, Heidi, talked me into working at a fishing resort during the summer. At roughly the same time, a young fishing guide named David Giblin worked a few miles away at a fishing resort on Stuart Island.
Jump ahead thirty-odd years, Heidi and I are at the Imagine Studio Café in Victoria for the launch of David’s new book, “The Codfish Dream – Chronicles of A West Coast Fishing Guide.”
David refers to this book as “creative non-fiction.” He says that “Among fishing guides, there is an unspoken understanding that we always tell the truth when it comes to the size of the fish, and that is what I have done.” However, he openly admits that “liberties were taken” regarding the characters and stories.
The first thing that hit home with me was the guides’ nicknames like Vop, Troutbreath, Wet Lenny, and Double Double. The stories on how they earned their names are all funny, and I won’t give anything away, but even better than the names are the traits they each display. One of my favourite accounts is Vop’s “hierarchy of salmon,” where he places the pink salmon at the bottom. He sees it as “an evolutionary first attempt, but there are some defects.”
If you have fished at a resort or moored at one with your boat, you will immediately recognize the antics between guides and the friendly competition between guests. Heidi and I worked with a different cast of characters, but if I close my eyes, I can picture myself right back on the dock.
My favourite story is Chapter thirty-six, The Dog Salmon. Also referred to as Chum, these fish feed almost exclusively on purple jellyfish and when they are caught and brought into the boat, they quite promptly puke purple dye everywhere. When David sees that a guest’s buttery yellow Gucci shoes “were now a mottled greeny-yellow-purple colour,” he uses his powers of deduction to determine that the big catch was actually a “second-class citizen of the salmon world.”
This book is a very enjoyable, “laugh-out-loud-on-the-back-deck” kind of read. If you are familiar with Bute Inlet, Arran Rapids, Dent Island, Big Bay, or fishing the Log Dump, then you will most definitely find his stories entertaining.
At the end of the book, David acknowledges the guides who helped him become a better fisherman including my friend Heidi. Ironically, David lives in Cobble Hill.
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