British Columbia

Why fishing is the best activity ever, according to new author

Avid B.C. fisherman Peter McMullan pens new book called Casting Back: Sixty Years of Fishing and Writing

Avid fisherman Peter McMullan pens his first book called Casting Back: Sixty Years of Fishing and Writing

Peter McMullan's (right) catch of the day in Kitimat is a steelhead — one of his favourites. (A River Never Sleeps)

Does a bad day of fishing really beat a good day of anything else?

The age-old question has been met with a resounding 'yes' from fishers far and wide and for Nanaimo fisherman Peter McMullan, even a catchless day adds to the appeal.

"It's fishing, not catching we're involved in," he told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's BC Almanac.

"The catching of a fish and the releasing of a fish is satisfactory — but you don't have to catch every time."

McMullan is a lifelong fisher, often enjoying the peace and tranquility of those early and quiet mornings on the water. His hobby has brought him everywhere from New Zealand to the Bahamas, and all the lakes, rivers and oceans in between.

Now, he's chronicled his journeys into a new book, titled Casting Back: Sixty Years of Fishing and Writing.

Fishing is a form of recreation, subsistence, and personal therapy across many different cultures. (Flickr)

The project came along after years of keeping a journal about his adventures.

"It was not a conscious decision to write a book," he said. "I had this moldy bunch of old clippings in the bottom of a drawer, and I always had it in my head that some day I'd like to get them in order, and maybe see them in print."

Beautiful British Columbia

McMullan grew up in Northern Ireland and first remembers casting a line as a nine-year-old, using 'garden olives'  — great, big juicy worms at the end of a hook and a float.

But when he moved to Vancouver Island for 18 months as a student, one of the first things he noticed was the abundance of places to fish — so he later returned with his young family to settle there.

McMullan says British Columbians are blessed with rivers, lakes and oceans all within arms reach for great fishing. (Flickr)

"Living on Vancouver Island, we're particularly privileged," he said. "We can fish in the oceans, we can fish in the rivers and we can fish in the lakes."

Chief among McMullan's favourite catches are steelhead in Northern B.C., which are popular in the Skeena region.

And Pacific salmon fishing on the West Coast is a close second.

"It's certainly nice to have a nice fat Chinook to take home and put on the barbecue," he said.

A bonding experience

One of the best parts about fishing is hanging out around the campfire at the end of the day, says McMullan. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

But McMullan says fishing is a hobby that extends far beyond the rods and lures.

"I really enjoy the company of my close friends," he said. "I love to meet up with them, go fishing with them, swap stories with them, have a jar or two.

"The apres-fishing is great fun, too. The evenings around the campfire, you can't beat that."

One of McMullan's go to campfire tales is his own personal account titled Three Bulls and a Bear.

It was late one evening on the Upper Pit River, and McMullan was flyfishing for bull trout with some friends.

His friends turned in for the night, but he decided to stay out in the river by himself — when he noticed there was something right behind him.

Metro Vancouver has closed Oliver Road in Minnekhada Regional Park in Coquitlam to vehicles for the next three months due to bear activity in the area. (Casey Brown/Flickr)

"There was this very large black bear, right up to its to middle in water — just watching me."

Horrified while in waist deep in water, McMullan began shouting, waving his rod in the air, and jumping up and down to try to intimidate the bear.

"It started looking at me, thinking 'What the hell is he up to?'"

The bear turned around and disappeared into the bush, but the story will always be fresh in McMullan's mind.

"I thought to myself 'you're not going to ever be that scared in your life,'" he said.

With files from CBC's B.C. Almanac


Do you have a favourite fishing spot in B.C.? Share your stories in the comment section below. 


To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Why fishing is the best activity ever, according to new author

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