Spring is always the time I look forward to buying my new fishing license. After a long winter with cabin fever is setting in its an excuse to visit my favorite fly shop, buy the license and feel legal and secure for another year of fun on the water. It has always been a pleasant ritual. I certainly have spent my share over the years on licenses, often buying them in several provinces along with special waters and out of country.
“This year” the wife quipped “you don’t have to buy a license this year” eh! I quipped, “you’re 65, no license required”. I had a moment of shock, when did that happen?. I knew that but I need a license to fish, suddenly a cold chill went over me. What if I’m checked and it was some sort of plot to catch people without a license. Perhaps something in small print or maybe a wives tail, after all it was the wife who brought it up. Ok, Ok keep calm now, don’t lose it, we’ll get through this. I decided to call the local Fish and Game and find out from the source.
A very pleasant young lady answered the phone with a happy “can I help you sir?” Wow someone I can actually understand and speaks English, I felt great that I wasn’t talking to an answering service out of country. I decided to play with caution in case they traced my number. “I have a friend who turned 65” I said thinking how clever I was not admitting to anything. And I want to know if I need a provincial license. I thought if they traced the call I could say he really wasn’t a friend juts someone I met in a fly shop.
“Oh Sir!” she said you don’t need a license any more (caught like a rat in a proverbial trap), just be sure to have valid ID like a drivers license and a current WIN Card. Wow talk about efficient. “Can I help you with anything else” my mind went blank, what did she just say, I thanked her profusely for my “friend” and I’m sure I heard her smirk. Probably one of a long line of Dudes my age with the same question. Humm… so it was true, but how will I handle a CO if confronted in the field, run, admit my lack of a license. Sorry Sir! I don’t have a license that thought almost put me into another panic attack no piece of paper, Oh God here come the jitters.
Paper trail… I have a few of my old fishing licenses from various provinces over the years that I’ve thrown in an old tackle box along with a few of my Dad’s in his Loaded fishing vest that I have never had the desire to de-vest as it reminds me of my time on the water with him and Grandpa. Time to review history to date on the water. Took the vest down and was rewarded with the smell of his pipe after these many years gone. And there it was in an upper pocket in a small dark suede zip case. Couldn’t resist sniffing the bowl to get a whiff of the Old Sportsman tobacco. Went for the upper pocket that I knew was reserved for licenses.
First a guide pin from the Maramachi a wonderful metal object that was thoughtfully made and well crafted. Then wonderful printed versions from Ontario, British Columbia and other assorted provinces. I studied them; often they where quite beautiful and intricate, with fishing themes, fancy crests and classic borders to rival that on currency. And then came buttons, each carefully emblazed with a serial number of the user, completely waterproof and built solid with a huge pin on the back to attach to jacket, hat or vest, what a great idea.
Ok, that was interesting, time to go through more current versions of mine. Many from British Columbia where I grew up or from the USA during trips exploring classic waters, all crafted to emulate the fishing life.
Such a big difference from what I have bought over the last few years. The present state of Alberta Fishing Licenses is a very sad excuse for a till receipt that you don’t want to expose to the sun as it will fade to nothing and water will dissolve it. Nor can you laminate it, as it will go dark. What fiendish mind thought of this, obviously not someone who had spent time in sun woods and water, all of which will spell sudden death to a register receipt, much less wet hands from handling a fish. I kept mine in a small baggie with my WIN card, (kind of a silly option as its not a sandwich). Now that WIN card is a nice impervious to weather plastic credit card type item, much like my boating operators license. There is obviously a disconnect here between licenses and user. My heart pines for these great options of the past, I’m posting some examples here.