Spend a day on the food-fishing grounds with an old hand

Gavin Simms
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Jack Marsh takes a boat with no name out onto the open waters of Smith Sound. On a midsummer day like this one, you might find him onshore at his stage in Lower Lance Cove on Random Island, gearing up for the next season's fishing.

Now that the recreational food fishery is on the go, he'll be making his share of trips out on the bay in order to get cod for his table and to pass the time the best way he knows how.

Jack Marsh

Lower Lance Cove - Jack Marsh takes a boat with no name out onto the open waters of Smith Sound. On a midsummer day like this one, you might find him onshore at his stage in Lower Lance Cove on Random Island, gearing up for the next season's fishing.

Now that the recreational food fishery is on the go, he'll be making his share of trips out on the bay in order to get cod for his table and to pass the time the best way he knows how.

He took up a life of fishing at the age of 13. He's 72 now, with no plans to stop.

"I'll probably die out here one of those days and somebody'll just have to come pick me up," he says with half a grin.

"The worst thing that could happen to you when you get older, you get up in the mornin' and you got nothing to turn to."

March and his wife Ivy were both from Deer Harbour, further down the Sound, before it became a town of the past with resettlement in 1967.

On a gold summer's evening during the first week of the food fishery, the two headed out to bag their 10 cod.

The water was completely flat.

Ivy used a hand-line while Jack tried his hand at a rod and reel.

They've been married for 50 years.

They stop and drop their hooks. Ivy gives him a glance and says, "Your motor's still going, you know."

"Yes, but she's not going nowhere," Marsh quips.

It takes a couple of stops, but it doesn't take long before they strike the right lot.

"(They) can't be no thicker," Marsh says.

But although there are fish to be caught, he says it's not the right time to hold the food fishery.

"If the scientists wants to say there's no fish in the sea then now's the time for them to open the fishery, because right now the cod are full of caplin," he observed.

"The 20th of August is the right time."

He has many theories and he could rant for days on the state of the fishery.

"I knows everything about fishing," he says.

He tells the time judging by the sun, and he can tell when it's going to blow and when it's not going to blow, according to the moon and the stars. He says he learned it from the old people. They'd go out in the boat back then without so much as a compass.

Marsh plans to write a book about his life and times, the things he done and seen. He plans to fill a few pages with views on the fishery, and offer up a contrast of life then, compared to life now.

"There's no comparison," he said. "You were dying when you were 55 and 60 then. Nowadays there's no worries like we had. No worries about being froze to death. Back when we were growing up, we were lucky to have an old jacket and a sweater - nothing. A pair of thin rubber boots was something."

He doesn't want to see wisdom get lost with the new generation.

"Everybody helped everybody back then," he says.

"Everybody was all like a big family, eh? I remember in Labrador one time they hauled their salmon nets and they had 20 or 30 salmon. They brought them all in and cut them all up and everybody was going away with it, that type of thing.

"Now if somebody sees another person getting ahead they wants to put him right back where they came from."

His theory?

"People got richer and got further ahead and didn't depend on nobody else no more."

Back at the boat, Ivy pulls the biggest fish aboard. It's only a matter of minutes before it all adds up to 10.

All are better than pan size.

Before they pack it in for shore, they gaze out at the fat ship inching forward on the distant blue horizon. It's laying wire at the bottom of the ocean, all the way to Greenland.

The plan is to connect the country to the worldwide high-speed Internet network.

Jack has no theories about that yet; he knows it's just the future forging on. He turns the motor as the sun slips down, and the boat gets tucked into the shadows of the cove.

The Packet

Geographic location: Smith Sound, Lower Lance Cove on Random Island, Deer Harbour Greenland

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