LA FAMILLE A PERDUE
An invite to fish a new river and maybe a chance to hook a really large trout was just too tempting to turn down. My friend had photos to back up the possibility that even a stranger to the area might get lucky and land a citation fish. The e-mail contained a description of the area and the conditions that one might encounter, along with instructions to bring some footwear suitable for navigating slippery rocks and muddy banks. It also advised the use of at least a seven weight unless I wanted to take home a four piece rod when the original was just a three.
The flies of choice that my friend deemed suitable would be shared with me, but I was also notified that any of my own humble tying attempts or blunders might come in handy. Having seen my friends' usual patterns maybe the sight of something new might come in handy if the bite was off or there were no hatches at the time. We agreed to meet at o'dark thirty on the following Friday to avoid the weekend traffic and better our chances on a more solitary stream.
My first impression was of a medium sized stream that somehow had been the recipient of a shower of odd looking rocks and boulders that were left over from the last glacier melt a thousand or more years ago. Not only were the rocks strange looking but they were all covered in a slimy dark colored mass that looked like pond scum in July. The choice of footwear warning from my friend was immediately appreciated as I stepped into the river and almost had a cold and uninviting bath before the second foot was even wet.
A hazy fog wafted down river on the slight breeze and the foresight to complete my outfit with more than just a light shirt and vest was communicated to my friend forthwith.
We had no other company at this starting time and the sound of the water breaking around the rocks and stream strewn other debris was musical and calming.
My friend was into a nice fish in just a few casts while I was still trying to decide whether to use one of his fly offerings or start off with a black woolly bugger, tailed and body wrapped with some rainbow hued flash. Woolly bugger it was and it soon proved suitable for this fishery when a chubby bodied rainbow decided to make it his breakfast.
We continued to do fairly well for a couple of hours then decided to take a break for a thermos of hot coffee and a ham and cheese biscuit that we had stowed away in our fanny packs.
The next stop down river required that we climb up out of the stream bed and traverse a fairly steep bank for a ways. This lower portion was shaded by quite a few trees with many overhanging the banks and providing cover and a good lie for a more wary adversary. We decided to split up with my friend continuing on downstream while I would stay in this spot and try to entice our target with a down and across float for whatever might be hiding close to the undercut banks.
Standing more towards the middle of the river was a strange looking stone formation, quite tall and slender, with a rounded top and it seemed to be held in place by large boulders both in front and in back. This caused the water to pile up on the front side and leave a long narrow slack pocket behind.
After no takes dredging the bank it was apparent that a slow bottom bouncing of the big nymph in front of the rock was called for first. Again, nothing showed any interest, but, the mended drift down the slack line behind the rock resulted in an immediate bowed rod.
The large fish made a dash up stream around the rock and into the bubbling flow in front. However, while reaching to net it I started to lose my footing and had to drop the net and grab the rock to keep from falling. As the slack hit the line so did the fish and instantly broke off.
Feeling extremely lucky to have escaped a cold dip with no bodily harm, as had been my misfortune in previous times, my rock grabbing hand was now covered in that same dark scum that seemed to coat all the stream bed areas. On closer inspection something about that rock was vaguely familiar although it seemed much taller than the first thing that came to mind; that being the likeness of a tombstone or grave marker.
I decided to try and remove as much of the dark coating as was possible from the surface of the rock nearer the top. I retreated to the river bank, broke a branch from the overhanging tree, returned to the rock and proceeded to rub off as much of the slimy cover as I could. Faintly engraved under the first cleared area were the letters BOS. Further cleansing showed the full spelling…BOSQUETTE.
Fishing was quickly put aside and the chore of removing the rest of the covering picked up at a frenetic pace. Underneath the surname at the top of the stone lay the names Pierre - Genevieve - John - Joseph - Frederick followed by dates of birth and death, on the same day, and the epitaph:
"Joined by Words, Separated by Water, Reunited in Death"
I quickly headed downstream, caught up with my friend, and told him of my discovery. Upon returning we uncovered a large flat stone on the upriver side of the rock containing the words: Pierre – Genevieve - John - Joseph - Frederick
This was obviously a burial site, but how had it existed all these years and in a river subjected to periodic flooding and debris that such flooding would carry?
After researching the names an old obituary was found dated June 12, 1902. It stated that Pierre and Genevieve Bosquette along with their sons, John, Joseph and Frederick had perished during an outing on the river and following their wishes were to be buried in their pasture land next to the river. They had no other descendants or family and the farmland soon was abandoned and overgrown.
Further searching revealed that some years later a torrential flood had diverted the rivers course to include the burial site.
At long last "La Famille a Perdu (The Lost Family) had been found.