I always visit the cultural attractions when I travel for a fishing story. And none have rated higher than paying homage to the Gordie Howe statue in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, (which I made a special point to visit en route to a pike fishing adventure on Lake Athabasca). That’s no joke, in fact, I planted a kiss on the cheek of “Mr. Hockey.”

I’ve always been addicted to hockey. Thank goodness the NHL season is upon us. Now I have something to watch on freezing cold nights, when I’m spinning up flies and thinking about the spring. Football and playoff baseball are okay. I could care less if the NBA lockout lasts. Give me hockey.

They say the “kinder, gentler” sport of golf is the sister of fly fishing (same traditional roots– same demographic). I certainly see the cerebral connection. Then again, anyone who doubts the rough and tumble nature of fly fishing has never been to the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson, Wyoming, with a bunch of off-duty fly fishing guides on “Disco Night.”

The thing is, fly casting is like skating. It’s something best learned early in life. And only when you master that, do you really get to play at the highest level. Sure, you can jump into fly fishing at any stage of life, but I can sit on a river bank, and just know by watching, which anglers have been casting fly lines since they were little kids.

And besides, fly fishing is a niche sport, just like hockey. It’s popular in pockets throughout the country. And those pockets are among the best places to be, eh?