The Magical Fish
The lake itself is rather plain. Not that scenic, actually, and rather small. No different from the hundreds of other lakes in the area.
And it’s rather hard to get to. It’s a 45-minute drive to the trail head, at which the road ends. This is when the back-breaking paddling and portaging starts (including a 1-mile hump over a big hill). It takes me and my buddy over two hours of playing Coureur-de-bois just to get to there.
What makes this body of water so special? It’s not the lake itself, but the treasure that lies beneath.
We put in the canoe, and start fishing. It’s a weekday, and we’re hours away from civilization. We have the entire lake to ourselves. No cell phones. No lap-tops. We’re off the grid. Nobody knows where we are.
We cast our lures into the deep green-blue water. It’s early enough in the year that there are no bugs. The ice broke not too long ago, in fact, there are still traces of snow in the forest.
We continue casting, over and over, repeating the pattern. I’m finally rewarded with a strong tug, and a flash of silver-green darting below the canoe. A fish! I have a fish!
I feel the queasy butterflies in my stomach from the surge of adrenaline as I reel in my catch.
(Is there any better feeling in the whole world, than what I’m experiencing right now, at this moment?)
I scoop the net into the water and drop the bouncing fish into my canoe.
It’s a trout.
A gorgeous speckled trout. The most magical, beautiful special fish on the whole planet.
The fish is an artists’ palette of color. Silvery green, with a bluish sheen. Pink and red spots on the sides, with green and brown camouflage pattern on the back. There almost seems to be a translucent light glowing from within…
Speckies are the thoroughbred of freshwater fish. They thrive only up in these highlands, where the water remains cold and pure. They’re firm, muscular and nervous; tricky fish to catch. They make their warm-water “chomp-at-anything” cousins (the bass and pike) look like clumsy oafs.
I feel the months of built-up tension and work-related angst instantly melt away, from just catching this one trout. Already, this trip was worth it. That’s the power these fish have.
But the morning has just begun. My friend and continue to fish for several more hours, each of us landing several more of these aquatic marvels.
Soon, it’s time to go. It’s almost a shame to have to clean this these fish to eat them.
But speckies also happen to be the tastiest fish on the planet, with their scarlet red meat exceeding the quality of the freshest salmon. I gut the fish, stick them in a bag, knowing I’m going to feast well tomorrow night.
We reluctantly start the 3-hour track back to the car. By the time I get home, it’s almost dark and I’m exhausted. All in all, it was a 16 hour day.
We probably each expended 3000 calories to catch 1000 calories worth of fish protein. Including gas, fishing licences and lost lures, these trout probably cost $100 a pound. If we had to sustain ourselves like this, we’d be broke and starving within days.
But in terms of spending quality time with a buddy, being outdoors, and attaining those Zen-like fishing moments, today was worth 1000 meals.
My soul is nourished…at least until the next trip!