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!

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53 Comments on “The Magical Fish”

  1. Kelly Says:


    “Is there any better feeling in the whole world, than what I’m experiencing right now, at this moment?”

    Yes. You’ll have to ask Claire about it.

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) What a nice post. I was half-expecting a watercolor of the fishies at the end. The story was so evocative I felt like I was there. Which was nice, since I don’t boat, fish, or eat the things. I got all the good feelings of being there without having to, you know, be there.

    Lovely writing.



  2. Friar Says:

    Thanks Kelly

    I might start throwing in the occasional “real story” that isn’t pure smart-ass. Just for something different.

    I’ll have to thank Janice for this one . She was so enthusiastic hearing about my fishing, I was encouraged to write this up.

  3. Kelly Says:

    You make a fine smart-ass, but Renaissance dudes should show off a little now and then with some literary flair, too.

    It’s bad enough that I’m up at this hour (trying to finish tomorrow morning’s post and now finally giving up)… why does your time stamp frighten me by saying it’s 4-something in the morning?

    (Darn Kelly, wants the type bigger, the time-stamp fixed, and maybe she mentioned wanting to subscribe by email ‘cuz she doesn’t do RSS… bugging me at midnight… go away, woman!)

  4. Friar Says:


    I think WordPress is time-stamped to the UK or something. It’s “only” 12:50 AM right now where I am. (eastern daylight time). That’s still stupid-late, but not as psycho as 4:00 AM.

    I have to get up in 5 hours to go to work. I”M just procrastinating. Dont’ wanna go to bed. Because then it will instantly be time to go to work and I dont’ wanna.

    I’m still learning all the wordpress stuff. RSS, time stamp, fonts. I’ll figure it out sooner or later

    Okay, now I’m really going to bed. Really, this time. Gnite.

  5. Allison Says:

    One word. Sashimi.

    One more word. YUM.

    You know, I have this friend who would be PERFECT for you!

    Kidding. Completely kidding. I couldn’t help myself. 😀

    Seriously though, those fish look AMAZING! I may just have to make my way up to Canada just for that! 🙂

  6. steph Says:

    Friar: I’m with Kelly, what an evocative post! One of my very favourite places to be is on a quiet lake in a canoe. Thankfully, in Belleville, I’m not far from that kind of scenario. O Canada! Your post reminded me of fishing with my dad and especially catching rainbow trout. My first fish ever was a pike. Imagine my bugging eyes! Your fish are beautiful, though I much prefer them live and swimming, now that I’m a vegetarian! (Don’t hold it against me!)

    Allison: You come to Canada, you’ll get more than you bargained for; I guarantee it. And that’s a good thing. 🙂

  7. Friar Says:


    I tried a little taste of raw trout. It was pretty good like sashimi. But I fried it up (with just some butter and salt, not to disguise the taste too much). Man, it was GOOD.

    There are lots of trout here, but, as the locals say ,you gotta know where to go. I don’t know where to go (except for this one lake). And you can only catch them this time of year (later in the summer, the water warms up and they go deeper). I might get 3-8 trout for the whole year..that’s what makes them so special.

    I used to live in Kingston, so Belleville is just down the road. All you have to do is head north a little bit and you’re right in the “Land O Lakes” region.

    Pike are my 2nd favorite fish. Not as good eatin’ as trout. But geez, are they ever aggressive! Lots of fun to catch! Like catching a torpedo with teeth!

    As for being a vegetarian (oh well, we can’t all be perfect). 🙂 (Just kidding).

    I don’t feel to bad eating them. There is a healthy stocking program in the park, to ensure that the fisheries arent’ depleted.

  8. steph Says:

    I tried to post a pic for you here, but it wouldn’t work. It’s at my place instead, under “For Friar”; some link love for you this morning. 🙂

  9. Friar Says:


    Thanks for the link! I tried to leave a comment (I hope it went through).

  10. Brett Legree Says:


    These kinds of “real life” stories are fun because we, the readers, get to know more about you – so keep it up!

    (Well, I know a lot about you as I’m your friend, but it’s still a lot of fun to read this as I don’t fish with you…)

  11. Friar Says:


    Oh, there are many facets to the Friar that people dont’ know about (yet). I prefer writing funny smart-ass stories. But like I told Kelly, I might throw the odd ‘serious’ story into my blog. Just to stir things up.

    You have to be a fanatic to drag your canoe through the bush like this for a few measly fish. I dont’ expect everyone to be this keen.

    But it’s not always this difficult. If you want, I can take you fishing one evening. Just off the side of the road, 15 minutes from town. And fish guaranteed.

  12. Ellen Wilson Says:

    Where is this lake? Can I find it on the map? Or is it one of those private angler type of things?

    The speckled trout are very nice.

    My husband, Mike, grows fish for a living. The funny thing is I can’t eat fish because I’m allergic to them. I told Allison all about that on Twitter. Every once in awhile I’ll try a little fish to see if the allergy has went away.

    I do like fly fishing.

  13. Karen Swim Says:

    Friar, this post brought back warm memories of spending time fishing with my mom. Yep, my mom was the crackerjack angler in our household. It may be why I have such a deep love of the water as an adult as it represents that zen like experience for me. Thanks for the much needed mental vacation and the reminder that sometimes we have to work to find the treasure that lies beneath the surface.

  14. Friar Says:


    Thanks Karen.

    What better childhood memory than fishing with parents (or grandparents?). I think every kid should have opportunities like this.

    I still daydream about those fish I caught a few weeks ago. That’s what keeps me going when I’m bored with work.

    The lake is in Algonquin Park (Ontario) but that’s all I’m gonna tell you. My buddy swore me to secrecy (he’s the one who told me about this secret lake).

    Though it’s not really that big of a secret, they have a list of lakes they annually stock on the internet…people could figure it out if they wanted.

    I hear there’s good speckled fishing on the U.P.

    I never fly fished. Something I’vfe always wanted to try.

  15. Friar,
    I could kiss you for this story. Course you’d have to be watching out for my hands because they would be after your salmon. ( I know, I see it, and I ‘m leaving it in.)
    You just gave me a little bit of heaven… ( shut up Kelly)
    Seriously, right there, right then . Magic. These are the high holy grail kind of treasures. Was the water really cold like the Roaring Fork out of Aspen?
    Have you read any of my friend Randy’s work? His non fiction work is as good a read as his ” Doc Ford series. You’d like it.

    Thank you Friar. Very much.

  16. Friar Says:


    Thanks to you. You’re the one who inspired me to write this post. I didn’t think anyone would be interseted in my dumb fish, but you were so encourageing, …I figured what the heck? Why not write the story?

    Water was pretty cold….we were only a few weeks after ice-out. That’s why the fish were so close to the surface. If we fell in and got soaked, I would NOT have been a happy camper.

    Havent’ seen Randy’s work. I’ll have to check it out.

    Now, wait till bass season starts! (in one month!)

    Not as good eating, but BOY, can they fight!

  17. Friar,
    I so meant trout up there when I said salmon. I was thinking about that yummy scarlet meat. And I saw Allison’s name so I had a Lusty Weevil flashback.

    Those trout glow don’t they? Just the embodiment of the day and the lake. Gotta savor them. My mouth is watering here for both the day and the fish.

    Randy swears that it is sacrilege to put anything but lime on a Gulf fish. NO LEMON. I am thinking that your lake trout would be fabulous with just a little lemon.

    Ice-out? What a great term. Never heard it before.

    Hmm, might have to tell you about my time on one end of a Presidential Penn reel out in the Gulf if you start talking fish fight.

    (I think you’ll like Randy’s work even if it is warm water . He’s a good storyteller. Very guy’s guy stuff.)

  18. Kelly Says:


    ROFLOL. “salmon” ah ha ha! LOL, LOL. “leaving it in!” “little bit of heaven!” My sides hurt!

    You read me like a book. (My daughter thinks I’ve lost my mind.)

    Friar, I said the nice stuff earlier. Now I’m a ball of giggles, so I’ve got to go.

    Got that post done, fourteen hours later than I had in mind.



  19. Friar Says:

    I must admit, that’s the first time anyone has EVER said they wanted to grab my salmon.

    I should go fishing more often 🙂

  20. ROFLOL……Kelly I didn’t even see the leaving it in…on the floor now….what can I say Friar…it was.. a …. mutually inspiring…. piece….( It is all Kelly’s fault now) :)) But I mean it about your trout, succulent… oh .. everything just goes there now doesn’t it? Damn her!!! We were talking magic fish and literature…..KELLY!!!!!

  21. Allison Says:

    @Friar Mmm you’re making me hungry! That sounds delicious. 🙂

  22. Friar Says:

    @Kelly and Janice.

    Oh, man. Listen to you two. You”re both outta control.

    Gee, I don’t know whether I should feel hungry, or aroused 🙂

    Well, thanks for the compliment! (Or are you just messing with me like those other two?)

  23. Friar ,
    Primal quest those magic fish… I believe it taps into the inner beast and beastesses. I WAS SINCERELEY appreciating the manly adventure and the resulting catch. Enjoying the poetic moment…drooling actually.

    Points finger directly at Kelly…now we have confused this nice man…and here’s Allison, my “Nude with Sushi” jumping in….You’re sunk Friar….give it up…trout for everyone! You’re surrounded by women. Pass the lemon and a beer, or a chilled Pinot Grigio. And tell us some more stories. 🙂

  24. Kelly Says:


    Oh, darn. I just hit delete 42 times because it’s all too raw to leave in print forever.

    I didn’t SAY it, I just SAW it.


    Your writing is great when you’re serious. Keep it up. Then make sure you leave something Janice can totally pander to my baser instincts on, so I can cause you trouble.

    Sheesh! Even that I had to rephrase three times to keep from making another joke.


    Until later,


  25. Raw? That’s Allison’s department. Oh Kelly, I just reread everything I wrote…uh oh …. Pheremones. Trout catching, canoe portaging, call of the wild manly man pheremones… you gotta watch out for them. I suspect they are actually sold in Canadian outfitter stores and bait supply shops. They’ll sneak up on you every time …

    Damn. Familiar with the southern species…it’s that call of the wild, gets me every time.

  26. Friar Says:

    @Janice and Kelly
    Oboy…methinks I have unleashed the Great Huntress-Beast with my fishing stories!
    I think soon I will have you and all the Pole-Sisters doing pagan dances in front of a raging bonfire, holding up shiny, shimmering trout up to the sky as an offering to the Algonquin Gods.

    I’m sorry you had to get involved in this 🙂

  27. wendikelly Says:

    Hey, did somebody call for a Pole sister? Where is Melissa?

    It looks like I needed to come on over out of sunny California to explain what happens when someone pulls a magic trout out of the water. It makes womens’ heads swoon. Thats What!!!!
    Coulda warned you lovely ladies. Those weren’t any ordinary trout. they were MAGICAL trout. Weren’t you paying attention????? Now the Doc’s got you right where he likes ya, with yer hormones on overdrive and yer words all slippery and slidey and he’s on his way to get the logs and the pole and I bet ya dollars that Brett is out there driving around buying up all the paint in town again and cracking open the wine.

    You got to watch them Pole Brothers. They are sneaky fellers.

  28. Friar Says:


    I never realized what power MAGICAL TROUT have over the fairer sex.

    I must use this power wisely and put it to good use.

    (But nothing wrong with a Pole-Sister dance, eh?)

    Brett, where is the bonfire?

  29. Friar, I think the magical fish lept over to my song choice on post today….Such A Night… use your power for good. But remember your muse baby…I want first nibble. 🙂

  30. Friar Says:

    Oh….and now she starts AGAIN….

    Lord help me 🙂

  31. Ellen Wilson Says:

    Nice link Janice. But I’m green with envy. My novel is about a wildlife biologist. Christ. Where the hell is Oprah when I need her?

  32. Ellen Wilson Says:

    I just booked marked his site so I could grow even more pissed off and green with envy.

    I really need to start the whole marketing phenomenon with my fiction again. And boy how it takes a load of work!

    See how this envy gives me power?

  33. Friar Says:


    Be ONE with the fish….Na-na-na-na-nahhhhhhhh. Na-na-na-na-Nahhhhhh.

  34. wow! well done!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Friar Says:

    Thanks Darren.

    Apparently, there are even BETTER places to get trout around here. But you have to “know where to go”.

    I dont’ know where to go and nobody will tell me (yet). I’ll eventually figure it out by trial and error.

  36. Brett Legree Says:


    Paint and wine, ready to go…


    Bonfire at my house. Just waiting for the pole sisters.

  37. Allison Says:

    Me? I’m completely innocent. I SWEAR. 😀

    I’m not quite sure what just happened.

    I just went back and re-read all the comments… Goodness! Ahem. Blushing now, because now I get what you meant when you asked if I was messing with you like the other two. *blush*

    @ Janice – Oh yes, I do it raw quite often. 😀 That’s the best way!

  38. Friar Says:

    Kelly and Janice…lookit what you did. You corrupted poor Allison!

    (Brett, you were already corrupted). I’ll bring the hammer and nails, and erect the pole. 🙂

  39. Kelly Says:

    WTF about poles at two blogs I read… clearly there is another blog doing raw better than I do.

    How dare she, and who is she so I can go contribute evil elsewhere… or is it someplace I just haven’t been checking the comments very often???

    Well, at least I partly corrupted Allison.

    That salmon comment has still got me choking back tears of laughter.

  40. Friar Says:

    There is something in the air this week…crossing the countryside and making the she-huntress women act crazy.

    They talk about fish, poles, dancing and rawness and body paint.

    Lock the doors, shut the windows. And be afraid…be very very afraid.

  41. Kelly Says:

    Friar, darlin’, I’ve been like this all my life. That is why, in real life, I normally get along better with guys. Not too much, mind you, must remain a lady—just a little eyebrow-wiggling here and there.

    . .

    Whose Purple Poles? What am I missing?

  42. Friar Says:


    You missed the whole body-paint Maypole dance pagan-ritual discussion last week on Melissa’s blog.

    Check it out…if you dare.

  43. Allison Says:

    Oh goodness help me. *blush*

  44. Kelly Says:

    Oh, I so dare. Middle of the night, and I’m going.

  45. Kelly Says:

    Aaaah! I DID read that post, but there were no… surprising… comments there when I read it. Well, I didn’t think I could add to the conversation then except yes, yes, yes, and I’m sure there’s nothing left to say, now, because yes, yes, yes, would just be wrong.


    Wendi’s poem was killer.

  46. Friar Says:

    The ladies were all pretty calm and proper…up until that discussion started on Melissa’s blog.

    Wendi comes across as such a gentle person, writing these poems.

    But then she threatened to tie me to a pole and paint me (because I kept mis-spelling her name!

  47. wendikelly Says:

    You’ll have to have Brett explain it to you. I AM nice. Shy even.. Of all the ladies in our group, I don’t even swear…hardly…words have power and when swear words come out of my mouth you better be running.

    I am EXTREMLY gentle and kind. Very caring and sweet. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.
    Unless something or somebody crossed my kids or hurt someone that I loved. Then…again..better be fast on your feet.
    Now about that name thing…..Some lessons should be learned and I can be VERY patient….until I can’t be any more and then…’s back to that running thing again.

    See how easy that is to understand?
    Think IRISH/ITALIAN. It gets simplier that way. Oh and my great Grandma was a French Canadian. Katherane LaBelle. I love that name.

  48. Friar Says:


    Aww…shucks. You know I’m kidding you, right? I know you’re a good soul. I can tell by your writing.

    But I do seem to DID want to string me up on a pole….:-)

    PS. I have a Polish background. Very very stubborn.

  49. 6 Weeks Says:

    […] Maybe you like to fish, like Friar. […]

  50. BrettHead Says:

    I’m not into fishing, but I totally am into being in the wilderness with friends. I could go for simply floating in the boat, or a long hike (without carrying the canoe).

    It is fun to write about something you love, isn’t it?

  51. Mark F. Says:

    Sounds like a cool place to fish, Friar (fishfryer?). Maybe you could take me there next spring?

  52. Friar Says:

    Hey Mark.

    Well (heh heh), I’m promised my “fishing buddy” that I’d keep this place secret!

    Maybe one day I’ll tell you where this spot is! 🙂

  53. […] Because, as I’ve written about before, these are magical fish. […]

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