I wrote an article several years ago about fishing in Canada, and received some nice phone calls from readers with similar experiences. Well, I did it again. A lot of my friends think I’m crazy to drive 850 miles, one way, to catch a fish. But, to me, the experience is much more than that.
I have some good friends up there, and I love the bush country. This year we saw two young bull moose that were as big as horses, with antlers about a foot tall that had forked and were in velvet. They were in the middle of the gravel road, about 70 yards away, and proceeded to plop, plop up the road in front of us for about a kilometer. They reminded me of a young puppy whose feet are too big and legs are too skinny for its young body. They were the darkest of brown, and kept looking back over their shoulders at us, before walking into the forest.
The next day I saw my first-ever lynx, a beautiful cat, very much like our bobcat, but larger, with more distinct and darker points on their ears. We got a good look at him because we surprised him on the road between two bodies of water, and he had to travel toward us to get to the woods. But, he did not stick around a second longer than he had too, again, much like our bobcats.
The third day, as we were headed off the lake at one of my favorite secluded spots that requires dragging a boat a couple hundred yards through the bush and a fair amount of muck and mud, we saw a fresh water otter in the water very close to the boat. He submerged and was gone as we drew near. Unfortunately, my favorite little lake has been discovered by others, and I probably won’t be making that portage again. We caught fish, but they were not of the number and size I remember from that lake.
We fished a clear-water lake one day, and that is always a different experience. The water in the great majority of the lakes is dark, with what I have been told is tannic acid. You probably couldn’t see your fingers if you were to put your arm in the water up to your shoulder. You could see a dime in 10 feet of water on the clear water lakes, which I believe are spring fed.
The ministry uses these lakes to stock trout, but there are also pike in some of them. This lake was said to contain large splake, a hybrid between a lake trout and what they call a speck or speckled trout, which is our very own brook trout. We didn’t fish for the trout. We had heard that some trout fishermen had been in there and had caught some very nice pike.
That day we had to get off the lake early because of a thunderstorm that shortened our fishing to two or three hours. We kept only four pike, which I filleted. Those four fish fed four hungry fishermen for two nights running and provided leftovers for snacks and lunch sandwiches. The largest was seven and a half pounds, on my scale that I calibrated before I left home, and the smallest was about five pounds.
We were very happy with the day’s results. However, we did get both four-wheel-drive trucks stuck in the steep, sandy ramps, and had to pull each other out. We were prepared for such incidents and the delay was more aggravation than serious.
What was a bit more serious was a large treble hook that became impaled in my nephew’s wrist as he attempted to land only the second fish of the entire trip. It was well past the barb, and I had to play surgeon-on-the-spot. We tried needle-nosed pliers to back it out, but that did not work. I made a serious incision with my knife on the inside curve of the hook, and we still could not back the hook out. I made that cut because I was concerned about pushing the hook through, with the many veins and arteries in the area, but there was little choice.
With a pair of side-cutting pliers, I cut the hook shank near the junction of the other two hooks. Then, using the needle-nosed pliers, and using my thumbnail and his on his good hand, we were able to get the point of the hook through the skin. It was not easy to do. Then, I grabbed the point of the hook with the pliers and pulled it through. We packed the wound with an antibiotic cream and bandaged it. He cleaned the wound that night and packed it again. It healed well, and did not seem to greatly interfere with his enjoyment of the rest of the trip.
We also experienced two flat tires, but, again, we were able to apply available resources and survived quite well. I am more convinced than ever that it is not the negative experiences that befall all of us that count for very much. Rather, it is how you handle them. But, if I go again, the sign in the window will say, “Gone fishing. If not back by fall, gone hunting.”
You can email Richard Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org.