October 23rd, 2008 will be forever remembered as the day Judge Levy finally hooked a salmon on the East River, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. In fact it was about 4pm in the Basin Pool just below the run on an old Blue Charm that he'd tied himself.
We've been fishing the East River together as an annual two day event for at least six years. I have hooked a good many salmon on the East River in October and raised many others. For some inexplicable reason every time I fished the East River with the Judge we were skunked. Worse, for five years we never saw a fish! On several occasions I successfully fished the day after the Judge left in frustration swearing never to return.
This year in late October salmon were holding in the pools upriver but none were taking. We fished several hot spots without result except for one important moment when a 20 pounder jumped out of the river right in front of the Judge. This event seriously shook his long held position that no salmon exist in the East River. He seemed conflicted. I did note from that point forward he fished with renewed hope and intensity.
Later that afternoon after debating whether or not we should try downriver we had a judicial decision to fish the Basin Pool. Positioned just above the tide this is a very popular place to fish in low water. It is a huge pool that can easily accommodate eight rods fishing both sides of the river. The path to the Basin Pool is a brisk downhill 1.5km walk on a mowed path. This day I was grateful for the exercise as it was a cool 4 Celsius. Thankfully the wind was abating. It had been a factor all day.
As it turned out we waited only a few minutes before stepping into the rotation at the top of the run. Not long after we got started a large salmon was hooked by a fisher two places ahead of the Judge. A few minutes later the fisher immediately ahead of the Judge hooked a grilse. Was this proof beyond doubt that salmon are actually caught in the East River? The Judge was paying close attention to the evidence unfolding before him.
The Judge, writes, with, perhaps, some hyperbole, that he is to angling stories as was Rembrandt to the canvas and Mozart to the symphony. Here he recounts with his typical understatement and modesty the rest of the story:
"I skillfully cast my fly with uncanny precision to the perfect spot allowing it to drift down over the hot spot with a nuanced balance of silky smoothness and subtle movement. Beguiled, ensnared by this artistry a strong, bright salmon attacked the barbless fly, with a fury commensurate with a fish ten times its size. Thus began an epic struggle that onlookers will transmit in awed tones and song to succeeding generations. It ran in all directions, the reel screamed in protest even giving off smoke. High into the air the fish torpedoed repeatedly, demonically contorting itself with spectacular aerobatics in a vain effort to dislodge the fly.
The battle waged on as late afternoon gave way to evening and a crescent moon ascended into the darkening October sky. The noble fish, doomed from the moment it spotted my fly, drained, finally of its unearthly strength, and recognizing the futility of further struggle against a superior foe, surrendered to its fate.
So long, so furious was the struggle, so heroic and all-consuming the battle, that when it was finally tailed by Mr. Robinson, it had lost so much weight that it was now a grilse, and even at that, Mr. Robinson could barely overpower it, nearly losing it as he has done in the past."
Every dog has his day and this year the salmon gods finally smiled on the Judge. That afternoon six fish were hooked in the Basin Pool. It was one of those wonderful late October East River afternoons.