I always admired the bigger and more daring kids. They were the ones perched atop the old pilings of the docks. A pop can in hand with a length of fishing line tied and wrapped around it. At the end of the line was a simple hook. Maybe there was a bead of lead for the sinker.

In the pockets of the young fishers, wrapped in plastic or wax paper, was a big wad of dough. A piece would be pinched off and rolled into a ball which would then be stuck onto the hook. Throwing styles differed; some swung the hook back and forth or others let it swing right around and let go. The ones who threw the farthest were legends. “So and so threw all the way out to such and such a place.”

If you could get yourself to a piling, the better, because of the reach. But it was still okay to fish from shore. Some used sticks also to wrap the line around, but cans were the best because of their uniformity. The uniformity would allow the line to unwind from the can evenly, which would give you greater distance. Rarely though did someone use a rod and reel, maybe the odd adult. But generally it was uncool to use a rod.

The most important equipment though was what was in the pocket, a big wad of dough. Some jealously guarded the recipe to their bait. With secret proportions of the flour and whatever else went into it, the wad would be wrapped with whatever was on-hand. The guys who made good bait had lots of friends. Friends who wanted a pinch of the secret bait. The shore would be lined with kids of all ages fishing for the elusive suckers, lured to the waiting hook, baited with the secret recipe of balled-up dough. The really lucky ones caught trout. Sometimes, though, they would only bite at a certain side of the island. Whenever someone brought news of fish biting at the docks on the other side, kids would either run or bike to the other side of the island. Generally, It was a false alarm.

I’d have to blindfold you first

With a smile, I think back to those days as I reassemble my fishing kit after years of neglect. I laugh inside because I still carry the guarded jealousy as the kid with the wad of bait in his pocket. I have found a secret weapon in my battle of the baits. There is an old man around the corner from our office with a fishing shop. I could take you there but I’d have to blindfold you first.

I have been in Montreal for a while now, and in those years there is a shop that I, occasionally, would pass by. It even looks like it has closed down if you just pass it casually. Then, once, I stopped to take a closer look in the musty old storefront. Beyond the glass was a treasure trove of lures and other knick-knacks. I strained to look past the knick-knacks. Hanging on the walls were lures of every imaginable size and colour. I felt like a kid at a candy store. But this candy store was closed. It always seemed to be closed. From then
on I would pass by the shop every couple of days to see if it actually opened.
Then one day I saw the door was open; the candy store had finally opened up.

I excitedly walked in. What makes this shop fascinating is the unknown.
You never know what you’ll find.
There are lures that simply are not made any more. It is like a museum of lures from way back. Lures that you saw in your dad’s or uncle’s tackle box, back in the day. It is a shop that is stuck in a time warp.

Along with the discontinued lures are homemade ones which people bring to Chaiyuu for him to sell. His name is George and he says he’s retired. There are photos from years past of his catches scattered with the lures.
He said his shop has been closed now for eight years and he just does this as a hobby. If you’re lucky enough to catch him at his shop, be prepared to turn into the kid at the candy store.

The prices are excellent and he’ll tell you that all the lures are “killers,” so you can’t go wrong. The homemade lures are made from a variety of materials, including brass pipes, pop cans, stainless steel, and on my last visit there was one with a toy mouse attached to the hook.
I had to get it. So if you’re in the area and if you’re feeling
lucky, and think he might be open, you can drop by the shop at 55 Bernard, one block west of St-Laurent Blvd. Or George says you can make an appointment by calling ahead at (514) 279-1370. If you’re driving out of town, you could make that as a stop if you’re headed up to the 15 north. Another good stop would be Baron Sports, which is a stark contrast to Chaiyuu’s shop. Baron is at 8601 St-Laurent. Now if only I could get my dumplings not to taste so much like bait.