In mid-July I went fishing in Canada for a week with my son Jon and five other guys. I don’t usually tell where good fishing spots are located but I am mentioning Lac Seul, a huge lake 150 miles from its north to south ends with 3,000 miles of shoreline and 640 square miles of surface, because its fishery regulations protect its productiveness.
It will remain productive if all fishers respect the regulations.
Everyone in our group caught 150 or more walleyes over 18 inches long. Adhering to the fishing regulations, we kept four walleyes apiece under 18 inches–the best eating size–for daily shore lunches and supper, and to accumulate the four walleyes each of us could bring back to the U.S.
As usually happens on fishing trips, the things we appreciate and remember most readily are about more than catching fish.
For instance, the driver of our Chevy Suburban was stopped for cruising 22 mph over the limit on a lonely Ontario highway–his second speeding ticket as we rushed to Lac Seul. He explained that we needed to find a restroom badly, which we did after driving three hours without a stop.
The motorcycled patrolmen waved his arm toward the abundant conifer and birch trees on both sides of the roadway. “There’s lots of restrooms gentlemen, take your pick; the Queen doesn’t mind.”
Jon and I got lost the first day. We had followed our friends’ boats as we weaved past dozens of inlets and islands for some 45 minutes until we reached a rocky shoreline somewhere on the lake.
Lac Seul was carved by multiple glaciers over thousands of years and is relatively shallow—about 150 feet at its deepest point, which makes it an ideal fish nursery. While our friends explored other fishing haunts, Jon and I caught one after another big northern pike and walleyes.
Neither of us had kept track of landmarks as we hurriedly motored to our fishing site and discovered too late that Jon’s GPS device wasn’t working and our radio was out-of-range.
I pronounced only somewhat tongue-in-cheek that we were “left to die” around midafternoon when dark clouds began building to our west and the wind was picking up. We motored in the direction we thought was mostly correct.
Some folks on a handsome 26-ft. boat confirmed we were traveling in the general direction of our camp, still some ten miles away. They also pointed out what their radio said, and we already knew: “A storm is coming.”
Our 18 ft. aluminum boat seemed undersized as it caromed off four-foot waves with a loud “whump” every time a large roller pounded its hull.
After what seemed like an hour—but was probably closer to 30 minutes, we entered a somewhat calmer bay with a bunch of cabins on the far shore.
This wasn’t our campsite but we chose to tie up at the dock because rain and lightning accompanied the squall. We holed up in the fishing resort’s boat station where we met a genial fellow who was cleaning his fish.
He said he knew the place we wanted to find, for he had fished here six successive years. He said our camp was some 20 miles south, an hour away by boat.
To be sure, Jon checked with the proprietor of the camp, and was I ever glad he checked with her! We were just two miles from our cabin, according to the proprietor, who told us to follow the left shoreline through a narrow and shallow strait we had neglected to remember as the gateway to our cabin.
Our compatriots were not yet back when we reached our cabin. When they arrived a quarter-hour later, Jon and I had supper underway. Jack and Jim were easing our anxieties.
The guys came into our cabin cussing the weather and how many more fish they could have caught if the storm had not interrupted their exploits.
I proposed that if everyone gave me a dollar every time he used the “f, mf, s or d” words, I would be able pay for my part of the trip. Had they fulfilled their end of the deal, I could have paid my entire way the first day.
Within a few minutes everyone was feeling good again, thanks partly to Jack and Jim. Many nights we talked into the wee hours of the morning.
Everyone got along. As the other dad in my age range commented, “No one said a single cross word to another person during our entire trip.”
Six evenings later after packing up, the group opted to drive home that night. They missed their wives and kids. Our heavy-footed driver commented, “If we get home earlier than our wives expect, they’ll let us go fishing again soon.”
When I related this anecdote to Marilyn, she asked, “Did you miss me?” You guess!