It made perfect sense to want to spend our last day on earth fishing. It seemed natural that if there was going to be an apocalypse the best place to witness this cataclysmic event would be on a lake fishing. If one knew the exact time of their death and had the option of choosing their exit strategy from life, an option given to us by the Mayans that predicted this day as the end of all days, could there be a more ideal fashion than going out chasing some end of days browns and rainbows on a five weight? I think not so armed with my inflatable boat and fly rods in the truck we headed away across the Champlain bridge and south down highway 10 towards the Eastern Townships. As if by serendipitous chance, the date of the opening of the winter trout season coincided with the Mayan end of the world and the unseasonably milder temperatures had kept the lake open, for normally this time of the year it would be covered under a foot of ice. Lake Massawippi, straddled between the sleepy towns of North Hatley and Ayer’s Cliff, is arguably one of the most picturesque lakes in the area.
It was the first lake I had ever fished, with my uncle for trout when I was six years old and it was here that I caught my first trout, so it only made perfect sense that if my fishing should end it should come full circle and end where it began.
A light and playful snowfall began to swirl as we turned down the winding dirt road leading through the mountains towards the western shoreline of the lake. We would put our boat in the water at my friend Guy’s cottage, one of the oldest residences on the lake. His late father Sylvio had owned the property for over sixty-five years and was one of the first cottages on this side of the lake. He had spent almost every day of his life there, working around the house fixing things, exercising on his rings, and going for six kilometer runs around the lake eery morning. The first time meeting Sylvio was entirely by chance. It was late December during a blizzard when my outboard suddenly ceased, forcing me to paddle in crazy winds to the closest shoreline with a dock. It was his. Our car was parked several miles away and he was kind enough to give me a ride back down the road to the public ramp. During the drive he mentioned that his son also fished the lake but his boat was temporarily out of service, waiting for a gasket valve replacement. This sounded a lot like the mechanical problem my friend was having with his boat and I turned to ask him if his son’s name was Guy. He looked at me wide-eyed and nodded his head. Guy Bissonnette? He nodded and we had a good laugh as he drove me back to my car. Of all the places for me to land ashore it somehow seemed that it was destiny that brought me to his dock.
The lake was flat, mirror calm, reflecting the somber grey sky. There was not another boat on the lake. A pair of black ducks flew across the sky. We slid the zodiac across the newly fallen snow, lifted it gingerly over the dock and plopped it into the water. While letting out my fly line missed a good fish that shook its head a few times and was gone before the hook could be set. It didn’t feel like a laker or a brown, the mainstay fish in this lake, more like a rainbow. A few moments later and we were fighting our second fish, a small brown trout that splashed on the surface. The fish were active, perhaps aware that the end of the world was near and wanted to go out on full bellies. From the bow of the boat Mark cast the shoreline with a spinner and caught several nice rainbow trout, exceptionally rare for this lake, although a few years back one of Guy’s friends hit a six-pounder in November.
At around noon, precisely twelve minutes before the scheduled end of time, we opened up a bottle of Mirrassou white wine, an excellent vintage to accompany cataclysmic events, ate the sushi leftovers from the night before, and waited for the end of the world. As we got drunk, we talked at great length about the roadmap of our lives, our profound regrets, the poor life choices we had made, both professional and personal, our successes and failures, agreeing that in the end the only important thing in life other than family and friends, or at least not less important than anything else, was fishing. The fish seemed to agree as well and kept hitting our flies the rest of the day. The Mayans had apparently forgot to tell them it was the end of the world.
Have a great post-apocalypse.