Erin and I recently spent the weekend at her grandfathers house visiting and telling stories. Somewhere in the back and forth, he told me an old fishing story that spurred my memory. Here’s an old tale from when I was fresh out of high-school.
One spring, near the beginning of my university career, I decided to go on a fishing trip with a friend from work named Trevor. It would actually be one of the first dedicated fishing trips of my adult life. The plan was to take my dad’s suburban, my brothers inflatable boat, a 9.5 hp motor, and a bunch of miscellaneous camping gear, most of which was borrowed. We loaded a borrowed cooler with food that was mostly prepped by Trevor’s mom.
Friday evening, we went north to my dad’s house outside of Athabasca, grabbed the boat, and decided on a lake. We debated a lake called Calling Lake, which is well known for its walleye, but in the end we decided on Rock Island Lake. It was closer and smaller, if I recall. On Saturday morning, we pulled up to the lake, made camp, assembled the boat, and quickly went out fishing. We were camped on the west side of the lake and decided to fish the south shore.
As soon as we got a line in the water, it started to rain. My goodness, did it rain. We were standing and fishing in a 10 foot rubber pontoon boat in the pouring rain with about 6 inches of water sloshing in the bottom. We tried casting and trolling without so much as a bite. At one point, one of us looked at the other and expressed “Fuck it! Fishin’!” We both shrugged our shoulders and threw another cast. We kept fishing, and CRACK! A flash of lightning, again we looked and each other and chuckled out our new catch phrase. Finally, the rain died down a bit and our fishing desperation came to a halt when the hunger took hold.
We pulled in to the camp site where it didn’t seem to be raining as hard anymore and changed into some dry clothes. We made some lunch and while cooking I looked out at the lake and noticed that the south side, where we had been fishing, was black skies and pouring rain, while the north side was clear sky and sunshine.
We decided to try the north side, with the train of thought that it couldn’t possibly be worse than the south, at the very least it would be less soggy. We headed along the shore line and found a nice patch of weeds and started casting. Within our first 10 casts we had caught our legal limit of pike and walleye. It was an absolute fishing frenzy. By the end of the afternoon we had both filled our quota for fish, and caught a few more that were even bigger than the ones we had previously decided to keep. Unfortunately we didn’t have a live well so we were stuck with the first fish we decided to keep. Oh well, there are worse things in life than too many fish.
We headed into camp and Trevor expertly filleted the fish. Filleting fish is one of those skills that I truly wish I had, but just don’t seem to be able to remember, or pull off effectively. I guess I’ll keep practicing. We fried up the fish in a nice crispy batter, the best way to cook a fish if you ask me. We also fried up some cubed potatoes and cooked a can of beans. Aside from a some fish, the can of beans was my only contribution to the meal. It may have been the fresh fish, the fresh air, or the lingering effects of the morning’s hypothermia, but that meal is, to this day, one of the best I’ve ever eaten.
We had a bit of a fire and then turned in for the night. That evening it got windy, rainy and cold. Very cold it seemed, and neither one of us had a sleeping bag worth a plug nickel. When we heard a break in the rain, we made a run for the suburban. We ran the engine and made good use of the heater for an hour or two while playing cards, then shut off the engine and listened to the radio for a bit. We slept the rest of the night in the suburban and went out fishing in the morning. We caught fish, but not like the previous afternoon, and to my memory, we didn’t bother keeping any.
Finally we decided we best be getting home. We packed up our camp and tore apart the boat. We loaded everything into the SUV. I jumped in and turned the key, only to hear that ever so disappointing click. That click that tells you that your battery is dead. That click that tells you “you aren’t going anywhere”. I grabbed my nearly dead cell phone and checked my signal – none. I looked around the campground and noticed that almost everyone else was gone. It was looking like we were walking to the highway to calling for help. We were two steps out of the campsite when an older gent with a fifth-wheel camper stopped and asked if we were in trouble. The looks on our faces may have tipped him off. I explained the situation and politely asked if he could give us a boost with is truck. He chuckled and said “no” then got out of his truck, dug through his tool box and grabbed one of those booster boxes… I was glad he was willing to help us, I just wish he didn’t have a sense of humour about it. We hooked it to the battery, fired up the truck, and headed back to civilization to begin unloading our gear.
Trevor and I don’t work together anymore and we don’t see each other much, but every time we do, one of us, without fail, chuckles and says “Fuck it! Fishin’!” I guess some jokes just stand the test of time.
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