When I was a little girl, my father taught me how to fish. We didn’t go very often, but on at least one trip we caught a pile of sunfish, which I had to clean and scale. My mother cooked them, bony as they were. I loved to fish as a young woman in our local streams and ponds, where we caught trout, sunfish, perch, and occasionally a pickerel while ice fishing. I also fished a little on the nearby Long Island Sound, where we caught flounder and bluefish. I enjoyed it but nobody could call me an expert.
I stopped fishing about 25 years ago, so I was very excited to take it up again on this trip. I made sure to get us the correct outdoor card plus fishing license that Canada requires. Foster and I shopped for lures, texas worms, and doodads guaranteed to catch (something). Since it had been so long, I also got some books to help me out on the finer points of jigs, rigs, spoons, crankbait, etc. as well as fish identification. I wasn’t sure what we were fishing for, just that I wanted to fish again!
Once we hit Canada, we were in the canals for a while and we would both throw out a line at night. I caught a few very small fish but nothing that anyone would keep for anything but a photo. I knew there were people around us that were catching bigger fish, but they eluded me. Once we got through the locks into the Georgian Bay area, I started seeing bigger fish, even in the small stuff I was catching, but it was still small – even the little kids were catching bigger fish than I was!
Finally, on our travels, we arrived at a beautiful little bay that was quite deserted and rocky. Someone had set up an inunnguaq – a little rock man that is sometimes used to mark good fishing spots.
I decided to take the kayak out to one of the shores and do a little fishing. Much to my surprise, I finally caught a decent size fish almost right away. I was so used to failure I didn’t even have a stringer with me to save the fish, so I had to improvise by cutting a piece off the kayak rope. I fished for a little while longer with no luck, but that night we were going to have fish for dinner!
I forgot the work that goes into cleaning the fish and found it is also more difficult to hold onto a big fish and chop its head and tail off than the small ones! We’re anchoring out for a while with a somewhat limited water supply, so I was a bit annoyed at all the water I was using. I rinsed the fish in several changes of clean water to get the slime off, then soaked it for a few minutes in salt water. Once I was done with my side dishes (red potatoes and fresh peas), I dredged the fish in flour, salt and pepper, and set it to fry in some olive oil and butter.
I was cooking in the cockpit on my little propane ring because I didn’t want to get the fish cooking smell embedded in the interior of the boat. I had the burner turned up too high, and the fish started to burn a little. Cooks know, once fried stuff starts to burn it is hard to get it back down in temp to cook it long enough. As a result, the fish was not cooked all the way through when it came off the ring and I finished it in the microwave. With that caveat, it turned out to be perfectly cooked once I had it on the table. As intended, the skin and scales came off with the flour crust, and I pulled meat off the bone and served it to us both. There was enough for seconds, and more left over besides.
Next problem was identifying the fish. When you’re not used to catching them, it’s pretty hard to tell what you’ve got. I ruled out trout right away, but thought I had gotten a walleye through comparing the pictures to our pictures of my fish, and the recent memory of what it looked like as I cleaned it, and what was in its stomach (tiny mussel shell and a tiny crawfish claw). Foster’s son Mike Schucker, who is a fishing maven, corrected me to say it was a small mouth bass. Looking at the next fish, I agreed with him – because there was a next fish!
The day after our fish dinner, I took the kayak again to another part of the shore and did some more fishing. I had a fish on the hook within a few minutes, but it jumped off, and numerous other nibbles and sightings in the clear water that morning. I went back to the boat about 3 hours later and we decided to stay another night so I could continue my fishing spree. After a little lunch break, I went back to another part of the shore in my kayak.
This time I hit a hot spot. Within 10 minutes I had a fish on the line and landed it.
It was a bit bigger than the night before, but I thought fish dinner two nights in a row was too much, so I threw it back, after taking a very good picture of it laying in shallow water. I continued to get more hits, and had three more fish on the line that managed to knock off the hook as they jumped in the air and backtracked into weeds. It was a great fishing day, overcast and calm. I spent a couple more hours in that spot, but the fish stopped biting once the sun came out.
I gathered my things and went back to the kayak, and took a little detour through a small channel. The little detour turned into a two mile kayak ride which took me back out into the deep water of Georgian bay before I came back into our little cove.
All in all it was a great couple of days of fishing, kayaking, and taking some really pretty pictures of our cove. Here’s a couple.
Flowers – water lily and wild roses