Fraser River, BC - Kevin Raffle
My Watermark is Fraser River, BC.
I was raised on the Fraser River in North Surrey and some of my earliest memories are of fishing for bottom fish. A family friend used to take me out to an old pier downtown where we'd start off catching bullheads, then use those as bait to catch all kinds of different fish.
In my teenage years, I made the natural progression to salmon fishing, eventually taking my first trip out on the Vedder River, near Chilliwack, back in '89. I fell in love with the Fraser Valley and all the tremendous fishing opportunities it has to offer, and I feel blessed that I've been able to call this part of the world my home and make the memories I have here; catching my first spring salmon (a whopper at more than 40 pounds), landing my first steelhead on the Coquihalla, or the monster 10-foot sturgeon that I caught in 2010. But, of all my fishing memories, probably my most treasured are of teaching my daughters how to fish.
When the pinks are running in the Fraser, there's so many you can hardly dip a hook in without pulling one out. It's the perfect time and place for teaching a kid how to fish. We'd set up on a beach or sandbar and I'd let the kids run and play around while I waded in and cast the rod out. As soon as I got a bite, I'd call one of them over and coach them as they brought the fish in. Since then we've gone out fishing together dozens of times and seeing the smiles on their faces whenever they reel in a good catch never ceases to make me feel proud. If water isn't clean and fishable, there'd be less of those kind of memories.
Even though I can barely swim a lick, I've always felt a strong, natural connection to water. When I'm on the water and fishing, I never feel as though I have to compromise myself or anything else. I find myself living in the moment, completely at peace.