Corry Quinn starts off on the wrong foot. When he's very small, his mother dies. Then his feckless father, heading down the road from his Miramichi village to Toronto, deposits Corry with his Uncle Kid. Now, this is a pretty good arrangement: Kid knows full well that Corry's father will never come back to Silver Rapids, and he and Corry get along fine. But Corry is a sad young fellow.
One winter day, angry and miserable, he sticks his tongue to an icy railroad spike. By the time the infection clears up and he gets out of hospital, half his tongue is gone, and he will never talk properly again. Strangely enough, his accident improves his life. He and Kid understand each other well, Kid talking, Corry writing notes. Kid is an ageing hippie with a heart of gold and a shed full of home-grown weed. This, not Kid's tiny fishing gear shop, supports the two of them. Eventually, after many tragicomic adventures involving girls, fish, and the elusive eastern cougar, both Kid and Corry grow up. Together they find simple yet cunning ways to turn their chub hole into a magical salmon pool, the shed into a sporting camp, Kid into an outfitter, and Corry into a man with a voice.