Photo: A large group of family and friends from Stonewall with some of their catch on Shoal Lake. From left to right, back row, Matt Chamaillard, Shaunne Precourt, Paul Breland, Marc Chamaillard, Phil Soroka and Joe St. Laurent; front row, Nickolas Soroka, Jocelyn Chamaillard, Emily Chamaillard and Amanda Chamaillard.
To everyone who loves fishing stories as I do, welcome.
I’ve mentioned lately the ice on Lake Winnipeg’s south basin has become completely dotted with ice fishing shacks of all descriptions. Somewhere in that maze last Wednesday between Beaconia and Balsam Bay about a mile off shore I saw a large blue portable shack with a chap stepping out to toss what looked like a jackfish onto the snow.
My truck careened violently over the crusty snow as I pulled abreast of his camp. I slipped out of “old red” to a warm, hazy afternoon calling out to the now closed tent, “Hello, is anybody home?”
“Yea, sure,” came back a response in a heavy European accent. Two men in well used snowmobile suits immerged from the shelter. I offered them my card and began passing the time of day with a tall, bespectacled, chiseled featured man who had a full grey mustache and short grey hair under a hunting cap.
Bogdan Mutic from Beausjour was his name, he said, as he pointed to his shorter quiet friend by the name of Dino Stojanovic from Winnipeg. Dino’s eyebrows, cheeks and nose were full and round yet like his life-long friend, though senior, stood straight and had powerful hands. Bogdan proudly revealed he also had a cattle dugout on his property, which they seeded each spring with 6” rainbow trout from the Garson hatchery and harvested them in the fall. Sport and farm fishing, well, you know what you like boys.
On Friday, last, I toured up and down the Red hanging out with anglers until I came across a very narrow weathered plywood ice shack. A thin, brown haired fellow stood up from a stool as I approached sprinting to a rod whose end was wildly vibrating. The rod went still as I got out of my truck and we introduced ourselves.
Daryl Ellis of Winnipeg was a kindly sort with an unassuming caring nature. He was a thin man with a somewhat gaunt face and graying mustache. A gold tooth peeked above his lower lip, which his tongue played with as he talked. Daryl kept one eye on his rod as we spoke and sure enough it snapped down again. As he pulled up his second fish of the day, he shot a smiling glance my way murmuring, “You’re a lucky guy to have around Arnie!.”
He saw me looking inquiringly at his very narrow shack so with a knowing grin he explained how a number of times the wind had caught his shack and sent it skidding across the ice. It was small, light and old to begin with and each time the wind took it for a ride some of the more rotten parts fell off which he had to pick up. Since Daryl didn’t want to put new material into an old shack, each fix required it getting smaller and narrower. Now, one could barely squeeze into it.
Saturday afternoon on beautiful Shoal Lake north of Stonewall turned out to be a heartwarming experience.
The blazing sun was out in all its’ glory and the wind was soft and pleasant. Out in the middle of the flat, glaringly white ice pack I saw a large group bustling about their tent camp. It was an easy run up to them and jumping out of the truck the air was filled with kids yelling and chasing each other around in the snow (as well as eating some off their mitts). These friendly folks welcomed me, saying who they were and showed the few fish they had caught.
An outgoing gal by the name of Shaunne Precourt from Stonewall introduced me to her group and in no time all of us were having a fine old time joking and swapping fish stories as one of the kids, young Nickolas Soroka got a bit on his line. He dashed over to it grabbing it up as the end of the rod met the water. He was in command though and reeled up with authority. With the help of one of the men, Paul Breland, Nick brought a very respectable sized jack out of the ice hole. The men laughed remembering two years ago when Nick caught a jack and got so upset he almost didn’t land it because as it broke water he cried out, “it’s looking right at me.”
Till next time, bye for now.