The float plane took off as I held my cup of piping hot coffee. According to Scott, an editor at Outdoor Canada, that's the typical cliche opening for any remote fishing lodge story, so I thought I'd stick with it. Only there was no piping hot coffee, and I was rocketing a Ford F-150 at 160 km/hr across the flat Manitoban prairies. Through fate and circumstance I was invited to Eagles Nest, a fly-in fishing lodge located on the Winnipeg River. My fishing experience:
Jason, one of the bronze leathered fishing guides, says there are only two things you need to pack when you go fishing: a raincoat and sunglasses. When it rains, water whips across the boat. In the sun, skin quickly sizzles. Rain or shine, mosquitoes and horse flies take their pound of flesh.
In the capable hands of fishing guides and far more experienced fishing buddies, it takes no time before I catch my first wall-eye. Sport fishing is strictly catch and release, but we keep the right size wall-eye for the shore lunch. Pike's flesh is not as desirable, so we throw them back, even the ones that can feed a small family. I learn to jig, cast and troll. Demetri Martin is right: fishing should be called tricking and killing. Or tricking and letting go. There's a healthy respect here for the fish: barbs are pinched to minimize damage, the biggest catch is gently handled, and always released to give future anglers a similar thrill. My trophy is a 31-inch pike, and in one session I haul all the species above save for sturgeon, including a healthy sized smallmouth bass.
We gather on an island for lunch, the guides making short work filleting the fish, which are rubbed in spice, or dunked in flour and cornflakes, served with deep-fried or fire roasted potatoes. Fish has never tasted better, or fresher.
In one of the world's largest flowing rivers (by volume), Winnipeg River boasts abundance. Abundance of water, clean enough for hardier anglers to drink, and warm enough for late afternoon dips. Eagles fly overhead, mink, bear and deer roam the shores. Casting with new friends at sunset, I share Fred's sentiment that fishing is just an activity, something to keep you busy while you ponder life, staring over calm lapping waters under a big prairie sky.
Please come in. Mahalo for removing your shoes.
After many years running a behemoth of a blog called Modern Gonzo, I've decided to a: publish a book or eight, and b: make my stories more digestible, relevant, and deserving of your battered attention.
Here you will find some of my adventures to over 100 countries, travel tips and advice, rantings, ravings, commentary, observations and ongoing adventures.