The REEL THING
Oh, did we have a great trip to Haliburton a couple of weeks ago. There were six of us on this one and the plan was to head north in Paul Kennedy’s Jeep, Jack Walmsley’s big truck and my old Jeep on the Friday afternoon, have a bite to eat in beautiful downtown Fort Irwin then take the hydro road that heads to Dwight in Algonquin Park, eventually cutting through the bush to Beanpole Lake. A great trip with the gaudy Fall colours gorgeous in the bright sunshine against the background of a cobalt blue sky with its fluffy, white clouds, looking more like giant meadow mushrooms, or popcorn than the hidden threat therein.
The Jeeps and Jack’s big new truck negotiated the hydro road with its swampy, underwater sections and awkward corduroy log portions without problems, arriving at the lake just in time to set up camp, three tents and loo before dark. With sky full of sparkling stars and a full moon we should have suspected that that was a portent of what was to come the next day. However the evening, although quite cool with the temperature hovering a only few degrees above freezing was spectacular as we all scrunched down around the great fire that Paul had blazing away to warm things up a little.
Sitting around the fire yacking away about who was going to catch what the next day, we hardly noticed that the stars and moon had disappeared and a subtle rain had begun. It was not enough to dampen our spirits though, so with an early start planned for Saturday, we all hit the sacks, leaving Paul to take care of and extinguish the campfire.
It was easy to quickly fall asleep after such a lovely start to the trip, but somewhere around two in the morning, what had been a gentle rain - not even a drizzle – morphed into a deluge causing mutterings from all four tents. Jack had elected to set up a small tent in the back of his truck. It had been gifted to him, just for that purpose by his son. Tass (Candaras) and Paul were in one tent, Lee (Pantridge) another and Sheila and I in our big Eureka 11’ x 11’ cuddled up to each other on top of doubled-up cots, large air mattress, a three star down bag beneath us, with another three star down bag on top.
Although the change from the tranquil precipitation into a driving rainstorm woke us all up, the sounds of the deluge spattering on the tent became another form of soporific sedation and we once again drifted into never-never-land.
Things weren’t quite so ideal, however, with the rest of our party. Tass discovered that his bag and rollup mattress had been placed in a depression and too close to the wall of his tent where it unfortunately wicked up a substantial amount of water. In the truck, Jack’s tent wasn’t much better as his air mattress deflated, leaving him lying next to the cold, metallic floor. Lee and Paul reported that they, too, had difficulty sleeping, probably from the excitement and anticipation of the next day’s activities.
We did manage to drag our carcasses out of the warmth of our shelters the next morning to get things underway and compare notes on how we had all fared during the night. The world’s biggest pot of oatmeal, along with stacks of toast and maple butter, courtesy of the maple trees on our property, were consumed by everyone while wearing rainwear as the rain, although somewhat milder, was still coming in short squalls every now and then.
Two canoes and my Instaboat had been launched the previous evening, so it was off to the wars to see who was going to eventually collect the reward for the biggest trout of the weekend. From past experience on these club trips, we all suspected that the victor would be my lovely and skilled (but lucky) wife, Sheila. We were the last to push off, having to make several trips back and forth from the camp, loo and so on, but it didn’t take Sheila long to prove what we had all been anticipating.
On only her fifth or sixth toss of her lure, casting her Gord Deval Crocodile, while I flailed away in the wind with my nine weight fly rod and Despair, she quietly announced, “I think I’ve got one,” just as a lovely five-pound silver rainbow began cavorting on the surface a hundred feet away from the boat. One – two – three leaps then it dashed right at the boat with Sheila desperately trying to keep up to it retrieving the slack line.
As you all know, in order to wind line in she has to turn the entire rod while the reel handle is anchored in a brace on her left wrist. Difficult to do at the best of times, but with a trout rushing straight at her it became almost impossible for her to gather in the slack line without its tangling around the tip of her rod. Before I could reach forward to free the line off the rod-tip, the lucky trout, apparently still well hooked, reversed direction, shot away and broke off twenty feet of line and her precious silver Crocodile. Oh well, the thrills of those moments remain, although the reward for the biggest would have to wait for another go-around.
With walkie-talkies in each boat, all on the same channel, I reported all the details of the titanic struggle as it developed, but by the time we headed into shore for lunch, it seemed that Sheila’s battle with her trout was the sole fruit of all our combined labours for the morning.
The rains had eased off a little as Tass, still chilled from his nocturnal emissions (rainwater, that is) cooked up a storm on the coals from Paul’s revived campfire. Four dozen lamb kebobs, specially marinated and seasoned then dunked in tzatziki sauce were willingly devoured by all, while being washed down with pots of tea and other libations.
There seemed to be no hurry to head out into the weather on the lake again, but eventually six lines were thrashing away at the mini-whitecaps rolling down the mile-long lake…..all to no avail. Supper-time was a simple affair after the noon-hour feast, HeaterMeals, but with a combined wiener and marshmallow roast planned for the evening as well, were all that was needed.
Paul’s fire was cranked up again, although Lee and Jack kept trying to add their own touch when Paul momentarily looked away, threatening to kill the thing before the coals were ready for the roast smorgasbord. Throughout it all, the rains never completely ceased, but amazingly it seemed everyone was enjoying the overall camaraderie and ambience of the trip despite the absence of fishing success with the barometer obviously falling right off the wall.
We decided to load the boats, tackle and so on before we retired so that we could get an early start on Sunday. The plan was to drive back through the bush, pick up the other trail to Limit Lake where we were certain more action awaited us despite the bad weather. We would fish til two, or so then go back to Beanpole, pack camp and head on home.
At least that was the way it was planned. However it was not to be. The trail into Limit is strictly an overgrown skidoo trail, fraught with deep pools of mud, huge rocks and boulders and other pitfalls that really should only be attempted by A.T.V.’S, Jeeps and comparable vehicles. Jack, however, had insisted that his big G.M. truck could handle anything that Paul’s and my Jeep could handle…..although he admitted later that he had never tried to attack anything at all like the trail into Limit Lake with it.
After an enormous pile of my special pancakes, drenched with our home-made maple syrup and gallons of coffee were consumed, we struck off full of renewed confidence in the direction of Limit just as the drizzle stopped and the sun began to fleetingly peak out between the low-flying clouds racing by. All went well, or seemingly so, as Sheila and I in the lead Jeep, followed by Jack and Lee, with Paul and Tass bringing up the rear, were about halfway into the lake when I realised that Jack was no longer visible behind us.
I slowed to a virtual crawl hoping he would catch up but soon decided that I had better stop and wait for a few minutes. Fifteen minutes later, it was obvious that Paul, or more likely, Jack, had run into trouble on the trail well behind me. I got out but with the deep mudholes the trail proved impassable by foot and I had to hike through the bush almost a half a mile where I discovered that Jack who had been able to get through the first mile or so on the trail finally had to succumb as his truck became hopelessly stuck with one wheel right off the trail while the rest of the vehicle was buried in muck.
Paul had meanwhile driven his Jeep around him and was attempting to pull him out with a heavy rope, but either it was too light, or the truck was too heavy. I hiked back to my Jeep, bigger than Paul’s, managed to turn around, go back then turn around again by aiming the thing right at the bush and hooked up a heavy tow cable that I carry for just such a purpose. We hooked the cable to Paul’s Jeep which was still fastened with the rope to the truck then easily pulled both vehicles up and out.
By the time all the smoke had cleared, however, Jack finally admitted that his truck was not up to the task and it was decided by all that discretion was the better part of valour. We would lick our wounds and call it a day. After all, Jack still had to manage a hair-raising manoeuvre, backing his truck all the way out to the hydro line on the difficult trail.
Nevertheless, he managed the tricky job in fine style and we went back to Beanpole, packed camp and headed home. There is an interesting addendum to this little story: Jack mentioned while the fly tying and rod building were going on in the shop last night that he had gone out and bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee similar to mine a couple of days earlier. Perhaps I should attempt to sell this little tale to the Daimler Benz – Chrysler people who make these wonder cars!
It wasn’t my intention to turn the report of that club trip into a lengthy story, but there it is and I hope you enjoyed the read.
We’re going great guns in the gym lately and the shop action is progressing right along with it. Some evenings we have twice as many folks working on feathers and bamboo as we have working on the targets in the gym. Last night, Hans Gulde did us all a big favour by tying up another dozen flies for use in the gym. They don’t stand up that well there, banging away at the ceiling and the floor – and occasionally the targets – and the lovely flies we buy from the A.C.A. are expensive and really only suited for casting on water. Thanks, Hans.
Sharon finally has her rod finished and is putting the guides in place after determining their positioning with help from Jurgen. Jurg by the way has fascinated us all with some of his creations on the fly tying table lately especially a Caddis nymph emerger, partially out of its case, but still attached. Extremely life-like in the two versions he fashions, one a stream caddis, the case, fine gravel and the other a lake version, the case, minute twigs, etc. Great work, Jurgen.
Haven’t heard much from Rick lately, but I understand he’s putting the finishing touches to his best Broadback River video yet and it should be available shortly for a club movie night.
It appears that our annual club Christmas party and Novice casting championship will be moved up a week to December the eighth as Sheila and I are going to Panama for a couple of weeks over Christmas. We’ll keep you informed if the party and casting are separated into two evenings as we have been kicking around with some of the folks.
We want to welcome Leon Schwartz back into the folds of the S.F.&B.C.A. Leon is one of our original members and brings a wealth of experience – and colour – to the club.
Just a brief note in ending, a few of us are heading back up north to finish what we started a couple of weeks ago……another go-around at Limit Lake and its daunting trail in through the bush, next Sunday.
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