Another tale about the fish that got away

Photo: Dennis Barchuk of Belair with a nice eating pickerel just caught.

Hello again fishing buddies.

It’s hard not to make some reference to the movie The Wizard of Oz when I share a story given to us from the folks at Belair. Belair is on the east side of Lake Winnipeg where the road onto the lake is named the “Yellow Brick Road.”

I’ve joked about this road before but last week it took on an added flavor when I met two fun loving ice fishing couples here. I could see them not far out as I came off Yellow Brick onto the ice. Jostling towards them “old red” threw cascades of water away from the front wheels I as sliced through the mushy melting snow. I pulled up beside our new fishing compatriots including Dennis Barchuk who you see holding up a pickerel he had just caught, Brian Kwitecki a tall, gangly, chap with long grey curly hair and piercing yet kind eyes and the “two Dorothys.”

The “Dorothys’”didn’t want their names mentioned but let me tell you they were true outdoors gals dressed in old winter wear, snacking and drinking coffee from thermal cups as they slogged around in the slush joking around with me and the boys. Then Dennis remembered a funny fishing interlude that happened many years ago with an old girlfriend.

They were fishing out of a canoe on Lee River when Dennis caught a fair sized jack. He told his girl, Sain (I know, I’ve never heard that name before either) to net the thing. Sain grabbed the net but when she leaned over the canoe’s side and saw the jacks’ menacing head she dropped the net and cried, “I’m not touching that thing.”

Poor Dennis had to grapple the fish by the gill and paddle to shore at the same time.

A day later I found myself pulling up to a very large ice shack on Netley Creek across from Chesleys’ campgrounds. Getting out of the truck to a warm grey misty day much like yesterday, I hailed the folks inside and was greeted with a “come on in” by a woman’s voice. Entering, I took in the features of a sturdy shack. Anglers sat on either side of common ice holes along the floors’ center. The mellow voice of local gal Bev Rozmus who invited me in was that of a fine-featured lady with dark short hair.

We began getting acquainted as she told how she and her friend Kim Hansen, with friends, had built this shack. At the far end of the shack sat a petit, charming, pixy faced lady with an enormous smile and short bobbed dark brown hair.

“I lost my first ever fish today,” new friend, Kathie Cuddleford proclaimed. She continued as I turned my recorder on. A jack had struck her baited hook and as she excitedly began reeling in her prize it slipped off the hook half way up the hole. Kathies’ joyous expression changed to a determined frown. She tossed aside her rod and dropping on all fours she plunged her arm down into the cold water of the ice hole catching the jack by the gill.

“That’s my first fish and it’s not getting away,” she growled. The fish thrashed about slamming into the sides of the ice hole and out of Kathies’ grasp. Quickly she lay face down on the floor and drove her freezing arm into the depths after the fish but sadly it found freedom beyond her reach and disappeared. Slowly Kathie regained her seat changing back to the sweet unassuming lady her friends knew and loved.

Last weekend I finally made it down on the ice at Lockport, which looks like craters on the moon from the locks to the spillway. A few adventurous souls had managed to get their shacks on the ice one of whom was Mike Templeton of Winnipeg. He gave us the story where not long ago he was fishing beside his shack while his son was inside doing the same. A fish took Mikes’ baited hook, then for good measure also took his rod down the hole. A few hours later his son got a bite and pulled up a sauger as well as his dads’ rig, which had another sauger on its’ hook.

See you on the ice my friends, bye now.