The fisherman, dressed in rubber waters with a collared shirt rolled up to the elbows, stood bent over in the arctic waters of the North West River. This is the literal end of the road on the eastern seaboard of North America, and the scene was about exactly what you’d expect. A soft rain fell in about 45 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures, signifying a great day for outdoor activity in Labrador. The fisherman had a halo of bloody water floating around his ankles as he skillfully dissected one of the larger fish I’d ever seen in my life.
We had spent the better part of the previous day asking every boat owner in town if we could get picked up at the mouth of the Cape Caribou River in about 3-4 days, so as I approached the man, I tried to play it cool. I didn’t want to seem too desperate. We wanted to paddle this unknown stretch of river, without battling coastal headwinds for the 20-30+ miles back to town.
“Wow, heck of a catch” I said as calmly and conversational as possible.
“Yeah, not too bad.” he said in the unassuming and understated manner you come to expect from some of the toughest cultures left in our growingly “squishy” global culture.
“What kind of fish is that?” I asked, still perplexed by its behemoth size.
“Oh mate, this is a baby seal. Where you from?”
I’d blown my cover, and my jaw dropped. Before I knew it, I got a history lesson in the history of hunting seals, the placement of an embargo, and a lecture on a rather predictable opinion of the organization Greenpeace.
We’d found our man.