A Fisherman’s Luck

Photo: Local commercial fishermen Reney Thomes and Carmen of Belair lift their nets while dealing with a developing crack in the ice of Lake Winnipeg.

Welcome friends.

I’m always impressed with folks when faced with challenges, stay calm taking things as they come and end up in pretty good shape. Such a man is Bill Dakota of Petersfield.

I met him some time ago in his ice shack off White Tail Trail when I was visiting anglers there. He was playing cards with a buddy on a small homemade wooden table in one end of his shack. A pleasant aroma and warmth came from a small wood stove on the other side. Music from a radio filled the air and the walls were covered with years of accumulated fishing novelties and pictures.

Bill’s optimistic ready smile complemented his tousled snow white hair and round goatee as he laid down his cards to talk to me. Sturdy glasses covered his kind eyes. Then in an upbeat manner he shared a fishing experience beginning with, “I once caught a nice fish but had to go to the store twice to land it.”

He explained he was fishing off a friend’s houseboat on Asessippi Lake south of Duck Mountain and caught a pickerel. As he tried to bring it over the guardrail it slipped the hook. He realized that if he caught another one he would need a net to get it over the rail so he dropped his rod on the deck not realizing the lure had fallen into the water and went for a walk to a nearby store to get one. Returning to the boat, he was astonished to see his rod gone.

Bill, without getting upset, simply turned around and retraced his steps to the store for a new rod. Later, back on the boat, on the first cast with his new rod, he snagged his original gear and on the hook this time was another pickerel. Using his new net, this time, he got it over the rail and finally settled back for some fishing.

Unflappable persistence will make you a winner every time.

The spring cracks and ice piles on our lakes are starting to show up just off the shorelines. This was very evident to commercial fishers Reney Thomes and Carmen Clatt from Belair. I met them lifting their nets as they straddled a crack a few days ago. When I asked them if they had an unusual story for us (as if working across a crack wasn’t enough) they started laughing.

Carmen said, “Yea, when we fish by Hillside in late May we have a hard time handling the big carp that get in the nets. They’re as big as babies and just as tiring,” she joked.

Last week on the Red downstream of Selkirk I ran into David Prasol of Winnipeg nursing an ice hole and he had a fishing story about he and his wife Lorna coincidentally also out of Duck Mountain on Two Mile Lake.

They were angling off a pier some summers ago and Dave caught a rainbow trout. Only then did he realize they had forgotten a stringer so he took one of his shoelaces and tied the fish to the pier.

With lines back in the water time wore on until they decided to call it a day. Dave knelt down to retrieve his only catch and saw that the shoelace had come loose and the fish was just laying below the waters’ surface seemingly in no particular hurry to go anywhere. Slowly he lay down on his belly and extending his arm as best he could, gingerly grabbing the fish. The slippery fellow just squirted forward out of his hand and stopped, just laying there. Dave not about to give up his quest edged himself further out from the dock. His back began to feel the strain of his extended body but yet again he closed his hand over the fish. Squirt. The slimy little guy slipped forward.

One more time, Dave thought. He wiggled outward just a bit more and with labored breath grasped the fish as the cool waters of beautiful Two Mile Lake welcomed him in for an unwanted bath. Surfacing, Dave slowly turned and hoisted himself onto the dock. He looked up at Lorna who with an exasperated expression uttered, “How is it that you always seem to wind up in these predicaments.”

Well, the spring fishing closure of April and part of May is looming ahead so get out there and get your fill of angling!

Bye for now.