It was about 8:00 pm that Niko and I decided we would meet at 5:00 the next morning and head up to the Beaver River. At that time I didn’t realize it would become the day I never had. A river that has a lot of sentimental value to Niko and I. It is one of those rare rivers where you can drive right up to some of the best pools, which is exactly what we did. The second we saw the opposite river bank we both got quiet. It wasn’t because the water was high and the perfect colour. Or because there were only two other anglers on the river. Not because one guy had a fish on, but because that guy with the fish had an incredibly striking resemblance to a close friend. He was one of the best steel headers we knew and like a brother to Niko.
But we knew it couldn’t be him, 3 years ago he lost his battle to cancer. Niko said our friend would always drift from that same spot, we couldn’t get over the resemblance. Not only did he look like our friend, he even moved like our friend. After a sad reflective moment, we decided it was time to get fishing. On the way to the river, I stumbled and almost took a swan dive into the river. A crow cackled, Niko looked at me and said: “That is him laughing at you!” Niko set the hook on what I still say was bottom…only to have his entire rig bounce back and tangle up in his rod. Sure enough, a crow cackled again. We looked at each other and Niko said: “now he is laughing at me.”
What I missed
I never had the opportunity to fish with him. We worked together in a fishing retail store, he was my department lead. He taught me a lot, not just about fishing but about work and life. We developing a friendship, but by the time we had gotten close enough to make plans to fish together he had begun his battle with cancer so we never made out together.
We got close a few times, the one I remember most was a missed opportunity on the Grand River. The brown trout fishing on the Grand River had been on fire all month and I remember him telling me stories about how he and his late father would always go to the Grand and have stellar days. So we made plans to go! I had planned for Niko to join us as a surprise, but the night before our friend fell ill and was bedridden. Needless to say, we never made it out.
What I Learned
Even years after his advice and stories resonate with me. From tiny jigs for bass, nymph on a fly rod for panfish, chug bugs for barracuda or heavy glass beads for steelhead, when the fish are not biting his advice has saved my day more times then I can count. That day on the beaver was no different! I decided to take his advice and try something completely different than everyone else on the river.
How Things Turned to The Day I Never Had
So I tied on a small spinner and fished behind Niko. I went on to hook 3 steelheads. His doppelgänger across the river even joined in with some light ribbing when Niko had a hard time hooking into his fish. Once we had our fill of the Beaver and the river got crowded, Niko and I moved on and fished smaller creeks and ponds in search of brown trout and brook trout. It is one of the things we had always planned to do with our friend. I won’t ever forget that day, turned into the day I never had! I finally had my chance to fish with Andrew and Niko.