Cam York is the picture of confidence with a hockey stick in his hand. It’s a quiet confidence, but it oozes from every move he makes.
When he’s not on the ice as a Michigan defenseman, York swaps out his stick for a fishing pole, an Xbox controller or a basketball — and not one ounce of his swagger diminishes.
“I’m a pretty good Fornite player,” York laughed. “ … Garrett Van Wyhe, Jake Gingell, Keaton Pehrson, (they) all love it. When we have free time we’ll play together. Play some squads, get some dubs.”
Outside of video games, he spends time at the IM building shooting hoops. York’s biggest competition on the court — according to him — was Jack Olmstead, who transferred in April.
While he’s talented at gaming and basketball, fishing is York’s biggest off-ice passion. Here, his biggest competition is former teammate Hayden Lavigne. Captain Will Lockwood named Lavigne the most “mature” fisher on the team.
“From what I’ve heard, (Lavigne) knows what he’s doing,” York said. “I’d like to see him out on the West Coast and see what he can do first, though.”
One part of fishing York is eager to geek out about is knots. He boasts about the different knots he can tie and calls it his secret talent. The most impressive in his arsenal? The cinch knot.
He explains the tying process like it’s the simplest thing in the world:
“It connects a braided line to a fluorocarbon line. That one’s really difficult, took me like a few weeks to perfect it but yeah, if you ask some random fisherman they probably can’t do it.”
York’s not selective with where he’ll cast his line or what he’ll fish for. And most of what he catches, he’ll eat. He’s watched his dad clean fish enough times to know how to do it.
At boarding school in Minnesota he’d fish for walleye in the lakes nearby. In Utah he’d fish for trout. On the California coast there’s tuna, striped bass and a plethora of other species. He once caught a 100 pound Mako shark in the ocean.
And that’s part of the reason why, if given the choice, York prefers saltwater to freshwater fishing. He never knows what he’s going to catch — or how big it’ll be.
But there’s one question that trips York up: He doesn’t remember the exact details of the first fish he caught. When it’s brought up, all that confidence disappears and his answer is hesitant.
“I don’t know,” York said. “I think I do, but I don’t want to be wrong.”
After reassurance that there’s really no way to fact check his answer, he took a guess.
His grandpa had a pond in the backyard that was stocked with rainbow trout, and when York was little he remembers catching those. But to have 100 percent certainty, he says he’d have to consult his parents.
Growing up on the West Coast had a big influence on York’s passion for fishing. The family owned a boat and a young York and his dad would fish the open ocean. While the vessel is officially unnamed, York has some ideas in mind.
“I’d probably go with Five for Fighting,” York said. “I always had that in engraved in my head but could never actually put it on the boat. It’d keep it hockey related too.”
With hockey being such a demanding sport, fishing has always offered him an escape. It was a chance to connect with nature; a moment away from the ice, a break from his thoughts. An added bonus is the lack of cell service. It’s total isolation — just him, the water and whoever he’s with.
Fishing has always played a big role in York’s relationship with his dad. For as long as he can remember, they’ve gone out on the water together. And, while he was still living in California, every year on his birthday he’d get to skip school to go fishing.
Prior to this year, it’d been four years since York had been at home to celebrate a birthday, so any chance to be out on the boat with his dad is special and coveted.
Like this past summer, which the two spent out on the ocean catching tuna and dorado together.
As for fishing experiences he’s yet to cross off the bucket list, York dreams of going to Pedros Island in Baja California.
“There’s just a ton of variety of fish around there,” York said. “And being in California, being kind of close, I’ve always wanted to go there. I always watch YouTube videos and TV shows about it.”
He’s also interested in trying noodling — catching catfish with bare hands. As of March, York has yet to go fishing with any of his teammates. It’s something he’s been looking forward to.
But whether he’s fishing with teammates, his dad or all alone, it doesn’t matter. For York it’s all about the escape and the experience.