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JULIA COOK: Columnist tries her luck with her line as another angling season begins in P.E.I.

Winter River is just one of the popular fishing spots in Queens County. Monday turned out to be a cold, wet first day of recreational fishing.
Winter River is just one of the popular fishing spots in Queens County. Monday turned out to be a cold, wet first day of recreational fishing. - Julia Cook

Patience is not my virtue, but stubbornness is. This means if I say I’m going fishing, I will. But I’m not particularly good at it.

Julia Cook
Julia Cook

I looked outside my window at the crack of dawn on Monday morning to see rain. I could feel the chill by the window. It had been years since I’d taken part in the first day of recreational fishing and I couldn’t back out now. Plus, the container of worms I had gotten were only going to stay fresh for so long.

My plans to cook breakfast by the side of the river were quickly extinguished as well, as I layered myself in my warmest clothing. My trusted backpack, that had taken me on endless hikes, was filled with a blanket, hooks and sinkers. I waved goodbye to my pets, who looked so warm in my bed, and prepped for a few hours in the rain.

I’m a goal-oriented person, meaning an activity, such as fishing, doesn’t make sense to me. If the chances of me catching a fish were low (especially on a day like Monday), then what was the point? My brother is an avid fisherman and he says, at first, he would often have a “skunk” of an outing, i.e. he’d catch no fish. He said that’s just part of the sport.

But I don’t like to lose, and it’s why I find fishing hard. This is also exactly why I decided I would fish this year: to accept that not succeeding isn’t failure.


  • What: Recreational Fishing on P.E.I.
  • When: April 15 to mid-fall
  • Where: Check your fishing guidebook when you buy your licence
  • Cost: $30 for a seasonal licence and then all the fixings

I drove out to a fishing spot along Winter River and went down to the riverbed. I waved to one other fisher who was coming down the path, but there weren’t too many people outside in this weather. I walked over a moss-covered log over a rushing creek and along to my fishing spot.

My brother had taught me how to properly tie the hook and sinker to the line, so I twisted the two ends together before looping it through into a knot. As a former vegetarian, I winced and apologized to the worm before I slid it onto a hook and set myself up along the bank.

A necessary evil, the worm is added for bait fishing. - Julia Cook
A necessary evil, the worm is added for bait fishing. - Julia Cook

I frequently hike, bike, and run along Winter River Trail and had spotted these fishing spots on the opposite side. In one of the trees is a bobber from where someone had done an overhead cast into the branches.

Holding onto the line, I flicked the rod with a sidearm cast and dropped the bait into the rushing water. And then, it was time to wait.

And I did wait. For two hours. I listened to podcasts and took photos. I re-tied my line when the hook got caught in an exposed root. I felt a bite or two (I swear). And then, thoroughly soaked to the bone and numb, I left.

There are people who spend hours upon hours in their waders, just waiting for a bite. Over the years they get better and have fewer “skunk” days, but there is always the chance that they will come back empty-handed.

It’s hard for me to say I didn’t come back with a fish today. But, I can always come back tomorrow and try, try, again. The season has only just started, after all.

Julia Cook is a freelance journalist based in Charlottetown. She is a regular contributor to the pages of The Guardian

Guardian columnist Julia Cook tries her hand at angling during the first day of the recreational fishery in P.E.I., Monday, April 15.

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