By Ken Brown
In the cold of winter I’m thinking about when I go fishing again this summer. I’ll be with five other fishermen in the wilderness of Quebec and the place is to die for.
Yes, the fishing is good, but it’s not the fish that define the trip. It’s the stars, the sunrise, the silence, the peace, the scenery, the loons, the food, the camaraderie and yes, the beverages that make the place special.
When I talk with other fishermen, they will boast of catching a thousand fish on trips to more remote waters. We don’t catch nearly that many. In fact, my buddies would be happy with 50 fish per fisherman for the whole week and the fish are not as big as those offered, right here, on Lake Erie. Besides, you can only take six home. It’s not the fish, it’s the place.
I guess it’s not really the wilderness – it’s only 10 hours north of Buffalo. We drive to a landing where the camp owner picks us up and boats us to the island camp three quarters up the 17-mile lake. The dirt roads that lead to the landing are not easy, though. Fifty miles takes about three hours. Holes, questionable bridges, downed trees and paths not much wider than a cow path help with the intrigue.
Finding new fishing spots on the lake has almost become an obsession for me. I study the lake’s bathymetric (lake bottom) maps frequently. Underwater ledges, points, drop-offs, humps and holes are all places that might hold walleye. Finding a new spot that yields one fish after another is fun beyond compare. But it’s not the fish, it’s the quest.
The fishing is always best at dawn and the couple of hours before dark. This leaves the daytime to explore new spots, cast for the occasional pike, watch the waves go by and check the propane fridge to be sure the beverages are cold.
I am embarrassed to admit that one of us will take an Internet device. Wilderness? Maybe not. For a few hours a day, the owner fires up a generator that allows us access. I swear that I only look to check the forecast. Some of the fishing spots are a substantial distance from camp.
One of our fishermen is a fanatical Red Sox fan. He gleefully snickers when he reads the box score on his phone. It’s annoying. He also bemoans the spam while looking for “important” emails.
Frankly, I love Spam! No, not the internet spam, but the food. One of the highlights of every trip is a shore lunch or two. Spam fried over an open fire served with beans or on a sandwich with mayo is fantastic.
One year we traveled in June and the mosquitoes on shore were more than annoying. Our crew met for lunch on the open lake, threw the anchor, tied the boats together and enjoyed Spam sandwiches fried earlier that morning. That lunch comes up every time a fishing meeting is called. Think about it. Spam does not need refrigeration, saving more room for beverages in the fridge. When rain and thunderstorms keep us off the lake, it can substitute for the fish we had hoped to catch.
Imagine my delight when I noticed a local grocery store recently had Spam on sale for $1.99 when you bought five. I stocked up.
I challenge anyone who turns up their nose when Spam is mentioned to sample it one day. Try it on an island, in the wilderness, next to a fire with a cold beverage at hand. Is it the Spam or the place? I think it’s the whole package.
Ken Brown, of South Wales, believes that Spam has gotten a bad rap.