A Bombardier to the rescue

Photo: John Klassen, left, and son Kyle Klassen with some of their pickerel catch by Sugar Island on the Red.

Seasons greetings, everyone! This is our time of year when we share love in all its ways as well as helping others in need. It reveals the best in us. The stories that have been given to us this week are fine examples of that.

Jim Zagozewski told me of an experience he had about this time years ago when he and friends were ice fishing off Sandy Bar by Riverton. Five guys on three sleds came by their ice shack lost, asking for directions to make landfall because it was starting to blow.

Jim showed them what direction to go using his GPS. The group climbed back on their sleds and disappeared into the growing storm. Looking out the window once back in his shack, Jim soon realized they were in a white-out situation. He couldn’t see 10 feet away. His gang loaded their gear into their bombardier and were about to head for shore and home when out of the vial of blinding snow, the men on the sleds reappeared.

They had become totally lost and had gone around in a gigantic circle. Worse, some of them were not dressed for a storm on the ice of Lake Winnipeg. One was wearing running shoes.

Jim’s bombardier was packed to the roof, but they made room for the chap in running shoes whose feet were badly frozen. Then away they went in a convoy, Jim in his bombardier leading using his GPS with the sledders following. The bombardier bounced viciously over ice crack pileups that couldn’t be seen in the storm.

Soon the early darkness of the winter night covered them. The small lights of the bombardier seemed frail against the wind-driven blizzard, but Jim faithfully drove according to his GPS. Then abruptly through the swirling maze, the shore popped up right in front of them. Tensions eased as everyone busied themselves loading the sleds onto trailers.

Lastly the chap with the frozen feet had to be carried to his friend’s truck for a trip to the hospital. Jim, you and your friends did just fine. We’re proud of you!

A few days ago, I was on the ice of the Red River, which is about a foot thick now, by Sugar Island downstream of Selkirk. I walked from one portable ice shack to the next, passing the time with our fellow anglers. It seemed everyone couldn’t get over how many pickerel they were catching!

Later, out on the flat snow pack, I saw two men putting their gear into a toboggan, obviously quitting for the day, so I trudged over to them and asked how they had made out.

These very pleasant fellows, John Klassen and his son Kyle from Oak Bluff, quickly held up some of their catch, which I took a picture of.  I then asked if they had a fishing story for us. After thinking for a moment, they remembered an unusual happening.

Last summer, they were boat fishing on the Winnipeg River. There was another boat maybe a half-dozen boat lengths away from them.Apparently those anglers had enough fishing and started pulling in their lines. The driver started the motor and gunned it. What he hadn’t remembered was that the anchor was still out.

The boat shot forward but the anchor stayed right where it was! As the rope tightened like a thick rubber band, the anchor decided to come free — like a torpedo! It tore from the water with “whosh,” slamming into the side of the boat at the water line, sounding like a thunder clap.

John and Kyle sat in their boat, eyes and mouths wide open in shock, staring at a situation that could have had a lot worse ending. They took a minute to regain their composure and then idled over to see what they could do to help.

We continued talking, and John and Kyle mentioned that they belonged to an organization called the  Manitoba Pioneer Camp at Shoal Lake where they take disadvantaged kids for some fishing every so often. Jim, John and Kyle, these are their stories and I think it shows they have the spirit of helping others all year round.

So, to all of you, my fine fishing friends, best wishes and bye for now.