Tuesday, December 14, 2010


"Gonna document this whole weekend!" said my nephew Nick from the back seat of my trusty 12 yr old Ford pick up. "Should I just take pics of interesting stuff to pace myself, or just keep snappin?" I began to carefully explain to him the correct operating procedures and that the four batteries must be loaded into my camera in a very specific way (one that seemed always to elude me on my first two or three attempts) when my eyes were met with a blinding flash ricocheting off the rear view mirror...hence he had his first picture! Thanks to some protection from my new polarized fishing glasses, and my NASCAR like reflexes, I managed to complete a sharp curve in the road (with one eye closed).

As the giant blue spots in the middle of my vision began to fade I was relieved to see that my boat was still in tow and the fishtailing had subsided nicely. With the crisis handled, I thought I'd delight the young fellas with a riveting "old days" account of how "driving with one eye closed" meant something completely different during the 70's. Met with blank stares, looks of disbelief and disdain, I realized that these "children of the 90's" found no humour in a cavalier attitude toward that kind of thing...no matter what the year was. Driving in silence...me with my thoughts, they with their I-pods, I wondered how young Nick had managed to load and fire off a picture so fast on a camera that had never before been in his hands? Hmmm...beginners luck?
As I later discovered, the tone had just been set for the weekend. In the front seat, riding shotgun, another nephew of mine, Eric, was examining and marvelling (I'm sure) at the many features of this 1999 F150. "What's that whistling noise from the top of my door?...how fast does this thing go?...where's your CD player?...how come the rpm gauge shot up and there was a grinding noise from underneath and she gave that awful shudder just now?" "Well Eric, that's all part of the Ford's high performance towing package! Sure, them new ones rrrr a little smoother, if ya like that kinda thing, but this ole girl will get us there!" (A promise that at least did not "set the bar too high.") I pointed out the cassette player, inquiring if they had any "tapes" on them, but then let the subject drift off, resisting the urge to tell them how it used to be 8-tracks and high beam dimmers on the floor, I sensed they were impressed enough for now.
The launch of my boat went pretty routine...me just getting one wet foot rather than both, and a minor incident involving a wildly spinning winch handle and a young man's thumb...the usual stuff. Starting the boat, however, was another matter. She's a 16' Lund powered by a 50hp two stroke Merc, boat and motor perfectly balanced, weight and hull design to power, it operates like a dream, cutting through and planing out til there's "just the prop in the water!" (Dad used to say.) Now, it's no secret that I take every opportunity to brag about this boat, and of course today was no exception, so when I discovered that the battery was dead I was a little embarrassed and mildly disappointed at this temporary glitch. The young fellas, on the other hand, were devastated! "Oh no, now what?...I guess that's it then...should we just go home...well, what are you gonna do?...do you have CAA?...is there a "guy" you can call?" The last question stung!! Is there a "guy" I can call?!!! "Why is it these days our first response to any adversity is to call "the guy"...the TV guy...the plumbing guy...the furnace guy...I could go on," I told them, but as it turns out...I AM the guy!!! "I thought we were all guys here!" Is this not a "guys" weekend?
I'm not sure when it became "out of fashion" to be handy but somehow it has. We seem to feel the need to pay "the guy" rather than solve life's little problems on our own. These young men were about to witness a "handyman" in action. One minute to remove the cowl...two minutes to find a suitable pull cord...two manual pulls of the cord and we were on our way! (Chalk one up for Uncle Doug. Old guys rule!)
Upon arrival at the cottage, I did discover that the young lads were actually handy as well. You know...when it came to toting coolers and heavy gear up a hill, there's nobody handier than young bucks with a strong backs encouraged by a crafty elder like myself putting them against each other in feats of strength. ("Look at that...Nick is carrying a propane tank in each hand and a heavy bag of groceries in his teeth!) (Chalk one up for the boys.)
That afternoon and evening was of course uneventful. I believe we did have guests for dinner. An assortment of gentlemen gathered, as men sometimes do when there is talk of a "guy's weekend,"an unofficial "pot luck dinner" was assembled, and as I recall there were plenty of refreshments on hand as well. The later part of the evening brought lively and spirited political and philosophical debate amongst some of my colleagues gathered around the fire. As the intensity of the debate grew, it seemed to flow and eventually move to an indoor venue...closer to the bar! As I said, the evening was uneventful, meaning there was no furniture broken, and no one required medical attention. While fishing the next morning with Nick, I generously took some time to coach the lad, demonstrating correct casting, presentation, hook setting and landing. Purposefully I saw to it that the subject of the lesson was a small, unobtrusive speciman, so as not to unduly excite my pupil and have him distracted from my teachings.
As it turned out, much like the earlier lesson involving the camera, the lad seemed to pick up complicated instruction from me pretty quick!
Further outdoor life enlightenment that morning included how NOT TO run the boat up on a shoal, lose your paddle in the mud pushing the boat off the shoal, and of course getting your unattended line caught in the prop!

In my defense, because of bright morning sunlight and a "pickerel chop" on the water's surface, the shoal was virtually invisable to the naked eye...and I had somehow, uncharacteristically mislaid my new polarized fishing glasses during the previous evening's engagements.

I have since investigated the disapearance of the glasses, and a chronological review of photos taken during the weekend revealed the following evidence...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Recently I had the good fortune to be invited on a fishing day trip by a buddy of mine to a "sure thing," "can't miss," "fish r lined up ta bite" hot spot; known to very few anglers.
"Known to very few" is somewhat of an understatement...so shrouded in secrecy is its location, that I am obliged strictly to never speak of the name of the lake it's in, town the lake's near, or city that neighbours for that matter!
  • To protect the innocent (me); lets just say it exists within the province of Ontario and leave it at that!
  • Carl...lets call him (could be fictitious/could be a real name) is very protective of his treasured fishing grounds...so much so that even a highly trusted professional colleague and friend such as myself is allowed there only with the greatest reluctance and angst on his part.

  • "My God!" must think Carl, "what if that fool tells someone!" Like in a moment of moral weakness to "massage a deal together" with a client who's a fishing enthusiast..."damn him...I could see him doing that." All could be lost!
I know this of course would never happen...and yet...there's always telltale signs of a fella's underlying worry, like for instance it's been just the last couple trips without the blindfold...an excessive measure, I pointed out, and somewhat reckless since I was often the driver!!
During one expedition last year I thought I caught a look of relief and satisfaction flash across his face when I complained that "they changed the @!$#&* highway again...I don't know where the hell we are now."
I speculate now, that Carl may have been given an idea that day, as a result of my confusion with changes to ramps, exits and entrances...
On subsequent trips up I found that we never seemed to take the same route in twice, and our way out was always under cover of darkness, him relating colourful stories to me to hold my attention and distract me, and my keen sense of direction.
Once when we arrived, I was astonished to find during my absence he had built an entirely new private road leading in, complete with white knuckle, hairpin corners, treacherously steep blind hills and various forks in the road, leading to dead ends; or off the property all together to an unneighbourly neighbour's house! (Most folks in these parts favour large guard dogs and firearms over "Alarm Force Security Systems." "No need for a "stern voice" on the telephone telling you "the police are on their way.") You cross the wrong local in an isolated area like that and you'll only wish "the police are on their way."
All this subterfuge, in an effort to disorient and confuse even the most persistent interloping sport fisherman!
When/if one eventually makes it to the cabin, they are greeted by the sight of a small, yet perfect little cottage, perched amongst the pines overlooking a scenic pathway down to the lake.

Glimpses of sun sparkled waters through wind rustled branches beckon you, as you descend closer toward the shore...and ultimately Carl's sacred fishing grounds.
Arriving at the shore we set about bailing the water from Carl's favourite fishing boat!...a large steel hulled "behemoth of a craft" built for utility rather than creature comforts, capable, I'm sure of carrying great amounts of cargo, and as it turns out...two hundred gallons of rainwater!!
After 26 minutes of two old guys in the classic crouched bailing position and then another 10 minutes or so to recover the circulation in our legs and back pain to subside before we could both straighten up to a full standing position we set off in "the Red Green boat" as he likes to call her.
I'm not sure if the name is some reference to our "champion of the outdoor adventure" or simply because it is red and green...
The reward for all of our efforts and Carl's reluctant trust in me was a truly enjoyable angling experience featuring "plenty of fish" (no, no, not the social networking site, young yuppie types tend to frequent).
We caught fish from most, if not all of the indigenous species...some "singles" (uh, again no reference to any website) and double headers as well.

Truly...the fish were lining up to bite!
Of course out of customary respect for my host and he being the elder; it was necessary for me to let Carl catch a few more fish than I...no sense risking no invite back, just to prove my prowess as the superior sportsman.
And...after a day like that...Carl's secret is safe with me!