You won’t find his name in some record list or “how-to” book. There haven’t been any articles written about him in the magazines or videos of him on YouTube. His is not one of those prolific names known at every boat ramp up and down the east coast. But within the ranks of the silent hardcore fly rodders on Boston’s South Shore and the Cape and Islands he is somewhat of a legend, sought out for up to date fishing reports, how to fish a certain area and tide and what fly he thinks is working the best. An argument could be made that his cell phone number is the equivalent of currency on Cape Cod Bay. The last time I fished with him he was on his phone as much as he was fishing.
I met Henry nine years ago. One mid-winter Sunday morning I received an email from him inquiring about flies on my website. I called him and learned he lived three miles up the road. Ten minutes later I was in his living room showing him flies and talking about fishing. He took me into the garage to show me his boat, a retirement gift to himself, a first generation Rothbuilt Fly Fishing Edition. He told me stories of fishing bait, spin gear, dragging wire…he’s done it all…and how he gave all that up when he found the fly rod. I spent two hours with Henry that day and we became fast friends.
In their younger days he and his wife Jean were single engine pilots. They flew a lot in the Bahamas and the islands. Back in the hey-day of smugglers, lawyers, guns and money. Their stories of those days are amazing and hilarious. They were not part of that scene, but Henry did learn a thing or two about bonefish which has paid off in spades.
In the years we have been friends I have fished with Henry every chance I get. Suffice it to say a great deal of what I know, I learned from him. There are three trips that stand out from all the others. Seven years ago we trailered his boat to Morehead City, NC to fish the fall false albacore run for a week. On the trip down, somewhere around Delaware I just started calling him “H”. I think it was awkward for both of us at first but now I think he likes it. I told him it would keep him young.
Knowing my experience on the North and South Rivers, H spent a lot of time fishing me outside in the rock piles off North Scituate and Cohasset so I could learn those areas. We spent many days drifting the whitewater in between the ledges but there was one morning I will never forget. We had fished hard all morning with not much to show for it but H was positive there were fish in one particular hole in the rock. We must have drifted it a dozen times and I was losing interest so I started casting behind us on my back cast to another ledge. I should disclose that I’m pretty quiet. I don’t talk a lot, even less when I’m fishing. H is kind of the same way so we go long periods of time on the boat without saying a word. So…H just kept pounding away at that hole and I kept randomly blind casting. After about twenty minutes I heard H talking to himself. I turned and watched him haul a pig out of that hole in the rock. I was humbled as I watched another striper of similar size follow H’s fish to the boat and then swim away. Lesson learned.
Of all our days on the water, August 14, 2010 is my favorite. It was a near perfect day and we ran across Cape Cod Bay to Race Point off Provincetown. As was expected, the “fleet” was there dragging wire back and forth. We found an empty piece of water and started casting. We both hooked up on our first casts and both fish popped off after a few seconds. Second cast, same thing for both of us. I had tied the flies…not good. I checked both flies. Hook points were sharp, neither had been straightened, no visible problems. H hooked up on the next cast and me shortly thereafter. Both were keepers, a good way to start the day.
We fished that spot for a few more minutes but having seen us with a double hookup in the boat, the fleet moved in on us. We moved out of there around the corner to Peaked Hill Bar. There were no boats in view but no sign of birds, bait or fish either. We motored down the Bar for a while and decided to stop for coffee. As we sat there watching the water I could smell bluefish. H smelled it too. As I drained my cup of coffee I dropped some line off the bow and just as I picked the fly up to cast again the water exploded as a blue short hit the fly. The water around us was suddenly filled with five inch sand eels and bluefish. For the next hour we boated blues on nearly every cast. We put the first one to the boat on the Boga. Twelve pounds and the largest blue I had ever caught. They got bigger. It was epic. In fishing vernacular, it was a total shit show. H and I were running around the boat trying to avoid crossing lines, passing rods back and forth and changing out sixty pound mono bite tippet. The bluefish just kept coming in waves, each one more pissed off and fighting harder than the previous. The action slowed up a bit and H said he had to take a break. He had just turned sixty-eight and made some comment about these fish kicking his ass. I laughed and told him to eat a Snickers bar. A few minutes later he was back at it and putting the hurt on the yellow eyed devils. I watched him for a few minutes dropping hundred foot casts; battling those blues and made a wish that when I’m sixty-eight I have as much game as H does.
H called me at work the afternoon of July 13, 2012 from the boat. He had just caught his largest striped bass ever on the fly, forty-six inches in length and thirty-eight pounds, on a 9 weight. Listening to him tell me the story I wished I had been there. But he had caught it on one of my flies so in a way I was there.
It hasn’t all been fishing. H and his wife Jean have become part of my family. During my divorce they made weekly calls to check on me and my daughter, Jean would have me for dinner to “make sure you’re eating” and when I moved into the carriage house H was the one who helped me move. And every year at my birthday and Christmas there is something from them in the mail. They moved to the Cape a few years ago and I don’t get to see them as much but I think of them every day. And I look forward to the next day on the water.
The etymology of the Godin name goes back to the combination of “God” and “wine” meaning good friend and protector.
Mentor, fishing partner, friend.
North River, MA
14 Jan 2014