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PAUL SMITH: Princess Louise fishing weekend

Get the kids out fishing this weekend.
Get the kids out fishing this weekend. - Paul Smith

This is typical isn’t it? I mean the weather outside, wet snow for the middle of May.

They have licences available on-time in Quebec. Matt Brazil getting ready for a day on the Restigouche.
They have licences available on-time in Quebec. Matt Brazil getting ready for a day on the Restigouche.

I just came in from spreading fertilizer on my grass, and I’m frozen to the bone, well not literally frozen because it isn’t really that cold. The grass is green.  Notwithstanding, there’s really something quite formidable about mercury just a tad north of zero Celsius and wind gusting off Conception Bay.

It chills you right through to the core. I suppose I didn’t have enough clothes on. That’s the thing about cold and damp springtime weather, you expect it to be warmer and you don’t resort to full bore winter clothes in May.

But hey, I’m not complaining, just telling the true story, and going out for a hike later this evening. I’m living by my own words, “no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes,” or something like that.

I have so many things to write about. I want to have a say about the upcoming salmon season and the fiasco that was last summer. I hope the managers get organized in a more timely fashion this season.

My buddy Matt Brazil landing a salmon on one of Princess Louise’s favourite rivers.
My buddy Matt Brazil landing a salmon on one of Princess Louise’s favourite rivers.

Remember the goings on with the salmon licences last year. They weren’t ready for sale at the beginning of the season, and the non-resident variety didn’t appear until well into the salmon angling year. Friends of mine from British Columbia and Ontario were out in the Codroy area and had to pack up and go to Quebec to get some fishing in before their holiday ended.

And guess what? They are going to Quebec again this year. That’s not good for adventure tourism.

I’ll have more to say about this in a few weeks.

Have a cup of tea outdoors.
Have a cup of tea outdoors.

So, we have made it through another winter and Victoria Day weekend is finally here. I doubt if there is anywhere else in the British or former British Empire where Queen Victoria is honoured and remembered with such joyful enthusiasm. Incidentally, whether you hold royalist loyalties or not, Queen Victoria was quite a lady and certainly deserves a measure of recognition.

Small in stature at barely five feet, but huge in spirit and intellect, she became queen at just 18 years old, and ruled over the largest ever empire on planet Earth for 60 years.

That is amazing. She was brilliant with languages, equally fluent in German and English, and a student of Latin, French and Italian. On top of that she spoke bits and pieces of Hindu and Urdu — the latter two she learned from an Indian clerk who became a friend.

That’s impressive, and I do appreciate the difficulty associated with learning languages in an era of no smartphone apps or language programs. But I don’t think many of us think about that stuff nowadays.

It’s a grand and wonderfully trouting and camping weekend for us.

There is always a fishing connection if you dig deep enough. I can sniff them out.

For us Newfoundland folk, who celebrate the 24th of May weekend by reveling in the out of doors, it might be better if we commemorate the legacy of Princess Louise, the spirited and unconventional sixth child of Queen Victoria.

Louise spent five years in Canada in the late 19th century and really got into salmon fishing.

Her husband, John Campbell, Marquis of Lorne, was appointed Governor of Canada. They both loved the Gaspe Peninsula wilderness and in particular the salmon fishing on the Restigouche and Cascapedia Rivers. From what I read, the Princess was quite a fly fisher.

So raise an India Ale to the memory of Princess Louise after you spend a day casting flies this weekend. Without a doubt she’d be out there fishing away in the sleet and rain. Her and Campbell loved the fishing so much they floated a prefab cabin down the St. Lawrence River and up the Cascapedia.

They were serious anglers.

Come snow, sleet, wind, or hail, no matter, I’m taking my grandkids trout fishing this weekend.

The forecast isn’t great right now, but hopefully we will get a bright patch to get out there with bobber and worm. I’m keeping it simple for the kids. My plan is to catch a few trout and then have a little campfire by the side of a stream. I have the location already picked out.

If the gods smile and the fish bite, I’ll fry them in butter over an open fire. They will curl in the pan like fresh trout always do and life will be wonderful. Maybe Rory and Harry will even eat a trout, but I’ll have other choices to be sure, like Vienna sausages. They are some ungodly good warmed in a fire.

These I am absolutely sure they will eat, not healthy, but hey, it’s Princess Louise’s mother’s birthday.

Take a hike with the kids and have a trail lunch.
Take a hike with the kids and have a trail lunch.

You know what? This is the first 24th weekend Goldie and I have been home in a long time. We are usually in Florida until June 1. So I’m making the best of this, because next year I’ll be snook fishing on the beach, or paddling the backcountry for largemouth bass.

Trouting it is, rain or shine.

I have so many vivid fond memories of fishing this weekend with my Dad, and later trouting with my daughters, Megan and Allison. The world has changed I think, not as many parents are taking their kids fishing. I will make it happen for my grandkids. Whether they continue on to be adult anglers will be up to them, but I will sow the seed.

It’s getting on time for my hike. The snow has stopped now and it’s pouring rain. Oh well, guess I’ll rig up in Gore-Tex. Get out there this weekend, and play safe. Take your kids fishing.

Incidentally, my mainland buddies wandered off from our west coast Grand Codroy to Princess Louise’s favourite Quebec rivers, the Restigouche and Cascapedia. I’m not sure when they’ll return.

We have to do better. Get those licences out for June 1.

Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and wanders the outdoors at every opportunity. He can be contacted at or follow him on twitter at @flyfishtherock

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