TYEE TALES – Gordy Killoran


Gordy Killoran was my friend.
A Tribute by Brian Isfeld

Gord had only two passions in life, foremost was his family, and then there was fishing.

Intensely independent, and so very proud of his family, Gord took his fishing seriously.

I remember the first time I went with him in his rowboat…

Gord had said prior to this that “fishing is a serious business, and we are not going out to socialize.”

“Well,” I thought, “this is going to be a fine morning. Darker than the inside of a closed refrigerator, and almost as cold. Here I am, going to spend 2 or three hours in a boat acting as an inanimate rod holder for an anti-social fishing addict who won’t talk.”

We arrived at the designated spot in the Tyee pool, and Gord uttered the first words since leaving the dock. “17 pulls then swing the tip back to me.” I said “17 pulls?” He said “Yep.” So I pulled off 17 two foot lengths of line, swung the rod tip back and Gord put on the weight. “Now put that weight back in the water gently, and give me 22 pulls.” So I did that. The big old white sea-king plug gently twitched the rod tip and we were in business. White, by the way, was the only color that Gord thought existed for fish, all other colors were to catch fishermen in his mind.

After about a half hour of rowing, and after the sun finally provided us enough light to see farther than a few inches in front of us, I took a chance and said to Gord “how many fish have you caught in the Tyee Pool?” For the next hour and a half he never shut up. Just kept rowing and talking.

As we traversed back and forth on the Tyee pool, Gord opened his heart to me with countless adventures. He told me of his stepdaughter 9 year old Deanna’s first fish. Together they boated a nice 36 pound Tyee. He told me of stepson Chad’s 12 year wait for a beautiful 42 pounder in 2002. He spoke of Lorraine, his wife, who has yet to boat a Tyee, but has many fond memories of the days with Gord on the Pool. He talked of his brothers Les and Gerald. He said “they are not fishermen but that’s OK they’re still good brothers.” He spoke of son Randy and his first year as a bone fide fishing guide. As Gord told it, and Randy might differ with this account, Randy was having a great year that first year until he lost the Magic spoon. Apparently Randy thought his whole career was ended and his life as a macho fishing guide was over. Gord says he let him sulk for a couple of days in his room, then went and got a killer spoon from his own tackle box and placed it in Randy’s room. An act of unspoken generosity and a valuable lesson to the up and coming fishing expert that there was more than one magic spoon in the world. As we all know, Randy learned his lessons well, and is sought after by many to “go-a-fishing” these days.

He spoke of Chris his older son who does not fish, and has no interest in it. He reflected that there must have been some drastic disaster that happened to the Killoran gene pool somewhere along the line to have produced in the same century not one, but three non-fishermen. But, he could reflect also that Chris had supplied him with two lovely grandchildren, Catie and Meghan, and Gord was bound and determined he was going to show them how fishing could enrich their lives.

Gord talked about friends he had fished on the pool, and I saw in him that quality of genuine love for his two passions.

Gord had an infectious smile and a great sense of humour.

I visited with Gord while he was coming to the end of his life, and he never lost that humour, or his great love for family, and for friends. I discovered that if you were Gord’s friend, then you were part of Gord’s family.

And there are countless stories to tell of his antics. Time precludes me telling you many of them, but I must of necessity tell you one or two.

I mentioned earlier that Gord liked 17 pulls to the weight. I like a shorter line, about 12, and so whenever Gord and I were in the boat, he would call for 17, and I would count them, out loud, as I pulled them off, sliding my fingers over the line without pulling it out for that last five pulls, so shortening up the leader. Of course Gord knew what was up, and he would say to me that “your weights are really the only ones I’ve ever seen that slipped so much down the line.”

One of these episodes we arrived at the pool and Gord said to me “22 to the weight. “I looked back at him and said “what?” He said “22 to the weight. “You’re going to fake about 5 or 6 of them anyway, so maybe if I call for 22 I’ll get the 17 I want.”

Gord was generous to a fault. There are many a fishing guide around the area who as young, and not so rich, fishermen were able to continue fishing with their clients through the generosity of Gord. He had a small tackle shop for a while, and was constantly supplying the youngsters with line, reels, lures and advice, mostly on credit, so that they could continue their self made jobs. Quite often it was an outright gift. I would venture to say that his accounts receivable never really matched his bottom line profit. But that was Gord. To him the youngsters were important and fishing was an honorable pastime that he wanted them to fall in love with.

There was the time long ago at the mill, when Gord and a couple of his co-workers hatched up a devious little plot for the janitor at the mill. They got a pair of coveralls, some shoes and socks and a whole bunch of straw and made a big straw man, completely dressed. This they placed on the toilet in the washroom, and waited. About four hours later a rather white faced Janitor confronted them with the fact that he thought there was most likely some guy who had died while on the toilet and he needed their help.

To finish up my part of this short discourse on part of Gord’s life I will end with a story that happened not too long ago right here in Metropolitan Campbell River. Now, Gord was a newspaper guy. That is, he picked up the bundles of newspapers from a couple of the local papers, and distributed them to businesses throughout the city. This he did in a van, most recently an orange van you could see coming for miles. Now, all this newspaper guy stuff was done in the wee hours of the morning, around 3 or 4 o’clock. A van cruising the streets of Campbell River at three o’clock in the morning gets the attention of the police at the best of times, but one slowly cruising, and stopping every few yards, as if to check out the possibility of opening one or two doors to some free merchandise, gets their attention in a big way.

One would think that after a couple of times stopping him, they would get to recognize the newspaper guy and so not bother him too much. But that was not to be. On about the 4th or 5th time being stopped, and upon the police asking Gord who he was and what he was doing creeping about in a van at this un-Godly hour of the morning, Gord in his ever polite way said to them “Well, at three o’clock in the morning there are on the streets of our fair city only policemen, prostitutes and newspaper guys. Take your pick.”

I will really miss the newspaper guy, and feel fortunate for the friendship, and companionship afforded by my buddy Gord.

Brian Isfeld