Dateline – A long time ago at Minaki Lodge, Ontario, Canada. First time fishing, ever!
The only way to reach Minaki Lodge back then was by seaplane or boat, either one of which left from International Falls, MN. We elected to take the boat, and after a long, speedy ride over water, we pulled up to the pier of the rustic, 2-story Minaki Lodge built entirely of logs. That first glance told us we had made a good choice. Our room was plain, but the decor of warm colors made us feel comfortable, and to our delight, we had our own private bathroom. There was no radio, nor television, nor telephone in our room (cell phones were non-existent then). The only telephone was located in the Lodge office, and the only radio was in the pub that was connected to the Lodge by a boardwalk a short distance away. A great place to enjoy that relaxation one always dreams about finding.
Early the next morning found us racing across the lake with our guide, George, away from the Lodge. I never could understand why we rode from the huge lake the Lodge was nestled by to another large lake miles away, and when I asked the reason, our guide said simply there was better fishing in the other lake. O.K. Also, in conversing with George, we learned that if we caught a fish under a certain size, we had to throw it back; if we caught a fish over the legal size, but still pretty young, we could keep it if we wanted to but Canadians frowned on doing so and recommended returning the fish to the water; and if we brought a fairly good-sized fish to the boat, we had to tell the guide whether or not we wanted to keep it because if we did, he would immediately hit the fish over the head with a club (which likely killed it) and pull it into trhe boat.
While we were digesting all this we reached our fishing spot and George cut the motor and guided the boat silently toward the shoreline. Since I hadn’t the foggiest notion of what to do, he started instructing me how to cast. I discovered there really is an art to throwing the line way out, but with practice I was eventually confident enough to begin fishing. However, my first cast was a DISASTER! Using a bait called a Mud Puppy with a minnow wiggling on the one end, I threw mty arm back with the baited rod. Unfortunately, I turned slightly around while in motion to see how it all looked, slightly breaking the casting rhythm. When I brought the rod forward to throw the line out, the Mud Puppy had hooked on the end of the rod and the whole thing – rod and reel – ripped out of my hand and sank in the water. I was totally shocked, and so were my husband and George, with the three of us just staring at the spot where my rod and reel had disappeared in the water. I was lucky my husband didn’t toss me in the water, too. Obviously, that was all the fishing I did that day.
That night the Lodge told us they had a rod and reel I could use so I could continue my fishing experience. The next morning as we were finishing breakfast, our guide came in and had a great surprise for us. Since we had been casting toward shore the previous day the water wasn’t very deep, so unbelievably, he went out at dawn that morning and with some kind of grappling device he had made, was able to retrieve my fishing equipment.
The rest of our week was idyllic. My husband caught a large Northern Pike one day, and another day, I did, also. I know you won’t believe this, but the way I landed my big Northern Pike was so unusual I always thought it should have been written up in the Guinness Book of Records. This is what happened. I threw out my line toward shore and hit a fish slowly gliding around in the water – IN THE HEAD! The Mud Puppy hooked and I brought the fish in. Honestly, I could not make up a tale like that. George must have many hilarious stories to tell his friends regarding guests at the Lodge, and I am sure we were up there near the top of the list.
There was so much more that happened on that fishing trip, but I’ll have to save it for another time. It was a wonderful, wonderful vacation with memories that are lasting a lifetime.