Rouge River, ON - Christina Papadopoulos

My Watermark is the Rouge River, Ontario.

Rouge River is one of the closest rivers to my childhood home, of which my father frequents because he considers himself a pro when it comes to Fly Fishing, which, he kind of is. My youngest memories of him are always with a fishing rod, and every weekend he would go fishing and submerge himself around the Salmon, Pike, Trout, Small Mouth Bass, and Catfish found in Rouge River’s streams. He never brought any fish home.

My father is a man of few words, with English as his second language. So, as a child, I always viewed him as very mysterious and puzzling because I was the exact opposite, loud and outgoing who enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls. Rather than sitting around for hours, waiting in agony to catch a fish. So my mother purposed that I should spend a full day with my father, and I knew what that meant, a day of boring fishing. I was in shambles. I was 7 or 10.

So the father-daughter fishing day came, I was not thrilled; I remember walking up to this open area with a huge mountain-like hill adjacent to a stream with a bridge curving over the river. There were a lot of people fishing and I was the only child, I remembered this because I was hoping to see another kid there my age to play with. My father tried to explain to me how to cast a rod and so forth, and I grew tired of his explanations quickly, so he let me just wander around to do my own thing.

As most kids would do, I jumped around on rocks and picked up sticks to play with, but then I came across a particular stick that was shaped like a ‘Y’, with a long handle. I sat on a rock close to my father and played with the stick, sticking it in the water. My father was saying we should leave soon because it was getting late and the fish weren’t biting, and no one else around us was catching fish. Then, out of nowhere, I saw a figure in the water and used the “Y” end of my stick to catch it. My dad starts laughing out loud and said, “look!” To my surprise I had caught a decent sized Catfish with the rickety stick I was playing with. I couldn’t believe it! All the other folks fishing around us were laughing and surprised I had caught a fish with a stick, while they’ve been there for hours fishing with their expensive rods not catching a thing. Then my dad said, “See, you don’t need an expensive fishing rod to catch a fish, you just need talent”.

From that day on, I grew to understand my father more after seeing his amazement towards my catch of the day and how happy it made him. I also had a change of heart towards fishing, and how much fun it could be after catching my first fish, especially with a stick. So the Rouge River holds a memory in my heart that I will never forget, and also that all the money in the world cannot buy you a front row seat with nature.

Rouge River, ON
Bonnie McElhinny

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