Photo: Emily Birley with a monster walleye she caught on the Red at the waterfront pier at Selkirk.
Welcome, fishing pals.
In the last little while, some fishing stories have come to us bearing a humorous similarity about anglers fishing beside each other yet realizing vastly different luck.
It was still, sunny and warm on the Selkirk waterfront pier not long ago when I saw two young gals getting into a little red car, obviously leaving after a morning of fishing. As I passed the time with anglers close by, the girls got out of the car, having heard me asking for stories and one said she had caught a master walleye right here yesterday.
Standing before me, these two petite ladies, Emily Birley and Joelle Alexander, both nurses from Winnipeg, could have been twins. Emily said when she was here the day before, everybody up and down the pier wasn’t catching a darn thing — except for herself, that is. Everybody was using ordinary minnows for bait, but for some unknown reason, the pickerel seemed to prefer Emily’s.
The morning wore on and suddenly, again, her rod whipped toward the water with a whistling sound, but this time, her line began screaming as it spun off her reel. She tightened her drag, slowing the line payout and then methodically began hauling up on her rod, followed by reeling in as she lowered it.
Emily manouevred herself and the incoming fish to a spot in the pier where she could land the fish on a metal incline. Though heavy on her line, the huge pickerel, which everyone on the pier could see now, didn’t really fight much until it was time to net it and then it thrashed about in one last attempt at freedom. With help, she landed the walleye that was almost as big as she was. They took pictures and then quickly returned it to its watery home.
When things settled down, Emily re-baited her hooks, cast out and, sure enough, got another bit. That did it for the guys sitting on either side of her. They hadn’t caught anything all morning and were not going to be a party to this lopsided luck any longer. They packed up their stuff, got in their vehicles and headed for home.
Now Joelle, Emily’s buddy, has the sweetest young daughter, Adrianna, who wanted to fish for the first time a few days later. She’s at that age where she’s thin as a rail, all arms and legs with the biggest charming smile you ever saw. On first cast, Adrianna got a catfish. Keith, her dad, was there when she landed the fish, so he got down on one knee and began unhooking the fish to toss it back in the water. Kindly Adrianna, holding her rod tenderly, bent forward and said to the fish, “Hi. Hope you’re OK!” Nice kid and lucky too.
It was blustery a couple of weeks ago when I was on the Hnausa pier and came across brothers Dennis and Lawrence Kirlicki of Winnipeg. These men looked very much alike with roundish faces, intense eyes and dark moustaches and beards laced with grey. They had been out since daybreak and Dennis was doing just fine having caught two pickerel at a time, twice. Lawrence, on the other hand, had only caught a small perch. Like the guys around Joelle and Emily, he wanted to go home.
I drove over to Victoria Beach not long ago for one last visit before freeze-up. The place was quiet. Snow patches lay at the feet of the winter-darkened pines and spruces. Tire trails showed the way to the pier where a few anglers, heavily clothed, sat hunched over in folding chairs at the far end.
I walked out to them, my boots crunching on small drifts of snow. One fellow, though, seemed more active than the others. He stood as I approached and, with a big smile, said he was Rick Sapecz from Narol. I asked him how the fishing was going and, with a proud smile, he pulled a beautiful mess of pickerel up out of the water. That’s when the guys around him began grumbling. Everybody, including Rick, was using pickerel rigs and minnows, yet he was the only one catching.
Some folks are plain lucky, I guess! Well, so long. Have a good week and we’ll see you soon.