The Canadian Fishing Trip Story
A true story about a simple fishing trip
Written 01 1010 and rewritten 09/05/2015 unedited
In 1991, I was doing business with a company in Detroit called Barney Kaplan Surplus.
One day, Barney, who was the owner of the company as well as my friend, called me up, and said that he had a customer, who had just bought a fishing lodge somewhere up in Ontario Canada.
Barney said, the customer had just invited him to come to visit his fishing lodge, and he made it all sound very exciting.
The fellow told Barney the weather was beautiful in Ontario and they were catching lots of lake trout. So when Barney heard that, he called me up right away and he suggested that we go up to Ontario and stay at his customers fishing lodge, and catch lake trout.
Barney said he would take his son Jerry and I should take my son Jack along, he knew that my son, Jack, who was twenty two years old was working with me, would probably enjoy the trip.
He was right, when I told my son Jack, he thought the whole trip sounded exciting, as we had never been lake trout fishing in Canada before.
So after we discussed it, my son and I went out right away and bought new, take apart fishing rods and also a special plastic carrying cases for them.
My son and I, were to meet Barney and his son Jerry at the airport in Chicago, where we would all catch a plane to some place called “Red Lake” in Ontario Canada.
Barney said his friend told him that he would make all the arrangements for us to get to his place once we landed in Red Lake.
I got our tickets, and we left Miami to meet Barney and his son at the Chicago Airport, where they were flying in from Detroit.
Everything went just as planned, I had assumed that Barney had everything pretty well organized to get us to the fish camp once we were in Red Lake.
At the time neither my son nor I knew the name of the fishing camp we were going to, we just assumed that Barney knew where it was, only, that it was somewhere near a place called Red Lake in Ontario.
We arrived at the Red Lake Ontario airport, and as we waited for our luggage Barney went to talk to a cab driver. As he did that, I walked over and I saw that Barney had a folded brochure in his hand which he gave to the cab driver.
What’s happening, I asked, “Nothing”, Barney said, “The cab driver will take us to an airfield where my friend has arranged for a small plane to pick us all up. Barney’s friend had said it was merely a hop skip and a jump, from Red Lake to his fish camp. I saw that the cab driver nodded, and he said he knew exactly where to take us.
We all piled into the cab and the cabby drove us out of town to what looked like a grassy airstrip that was next to a lake. It was all pretty rustic looking country.
As we all got out of the cab waiting for the airplane to arrive, I saw there was an old antique float plane sitting by the dock at the lake, so while we waited, I walked down to the dock to look at the plane.
On one of the float pontoons someone had written “DHC2 Beaver”, wow, I realized that it was an antique De Haviland Beaver, De Haviland used to name all their planes after animals, and they were used a lot in WW2, but that was a long time ago and most of the planes have been scrapped by now or put in a museum somewhere.
I walked back to the cab and asked Barney how long before his friends plane arrived, Barney said, “Don’t worry, my friend told me, he would have his company pilot come and pick us up any moment”.
I saw that the cab driver was looking around, and eventually he looked at me and said, “You can never depend on these bush pilots”. I said, what do you mean Bush pilot? I had never expected to be flying anywhere with a bush pilot it sounded scary.
About a half hour later, a fellow came walking out of the woods, heading towards us. The cab driver said, “Here comes the pilot”.
I was a little shocked when I saw him, this guy was not a pilot. He looked like a lumberjack. He had mud caked, lace up boots, heavy work pants and a plaid heavy duty jacket. He also had a beard about a foot long and he had a stupid looking pull over wool cap.
He asked us if we were the fishing guys, and Barney said yes. Barney handed him the brochure he had taken back from the cab driver.
I really had to look the guy over a second time, he sure didn’t look like any pilot to me.
Then the fellow pointed towards that old Beaver float plane. Well, at that point there was really nothing I could say, so we all carried everything down to the plane, and as I had long legs, I climbed into the passenger’s seat. The pilot loaded the bags, then he got in and fiddled around with some switches and started the plane’s engine. There was a lot of smoke and a lot of noise. Everything in the plane looked very old and worn out, so I just closed my eyes as he taxied out into the lake and took off.
Barney, Jerry and my son jack were sitting right behind me. I only opened my eyes when I heard the pilot say, “Where are you guys going?”
How could he possibly ask us where we were going, didn’t he know, so I waited for Barney to answer but there was no immediate answer. Then Barney said, “I don’t know where we are going, we have never been here before, don’t you recognize the fish camp name that’s on the brochure I gave you”.
The pilot said, “No, never heard of it, there are a million fishing camps up here in Canada. Then the pilot turned to me, and said, “You mean to tell me you guys don’t know where we are going”.
Here we were in the sky flying and I couldn’t believe the conversation that was going on.
I looked out the window, we were flying over what looked like endless tundra, and it all looked the same as far as my eyes could see in every direction. I tried squinted my eyes, but there was no sign anywhere of a house or human being.
As I forlornly sat there looking out the planes window, the Beaver’s nose started dropping. The pilot
reached above and the engines picked up speed and the nose came up, I had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, how did I let myself get talked into this? About every five minutes the nose dipped and the pilot revved the plane’s engines to bring her back up. Thinking we would soon be crashing, I looked at the floor it had mud all over it, and I saw that there was what was left of a folded map laying under the pilots muddy boot.
Barney yelled loudly over the engine noise and told the pilot the fishing camp owner’s name, and he said the guy drove a black and white Chevrolet Blazer. I was thinking, if that’s all the information Barney had I was preparing for doom, I could see it all now, Miami man and son lost flying in old antique De Haviland airplane deep in Ontario wilderness.
As we droned on, it seemed like hours were passing, and I was now preparing myself for the pilot to tell us any moment that we were out of gas and going to crash land.
That’s what I was thinking, when all of a sudden the pilot was pointing downward, I looked out of my window and there was a Black and white Chevy Blazer.
The pilot circled the area three times, after the third go around, I asked him if he was going to land. “Yes he said, but you should help me look for rocks in the water, if we ever hit one while landing it’s the end.”
The plane taxied up to the dock. We tied up and several young fellows came down to take our luggage.
We walked up to the main building where Barney’s friend was so happy to see us, I could understand why, as we were the only customers there.
That night we had a fried fish supper and were given a cabin in the woods with a pot belly stove. We looked the stove over but no one wanted to chop wood and it wasn’t cold enough to use it, so we just unpacked our suitcases.
Barney said he had brought an extra pair of long johns just in case it got cold. He said they were the real original long johns complete with the trap door rear. No one volunteered, so he asked my son Jack if he wanted to put the long johns on, but Jack, coming from Florida, had never seen long johns before and said he wouldn’t ever consider wearing such a ridiculous thing.
I think it was about four in the morning, we were all awake and it was freezing cold and that’s when my son Jack put on Barney’s long johns, Barney never forgot about that and he always reminded me about it.
In the morning we were assigned several young Canadian college students as fishing guides, and they took us fishing for Northern Pike, even though we wanted lake trout.
After I had caught two or three big Pike, I told the guides that I wanted to take some back to camp to filet up to bring to Miami.
I already knew that the guides were all young nature loving college kids, and this was probably their first job they ever had, but that’s when they really pissed me off.
They referred to all the big Northern Pike we had caught as “Snakes” and one said to me, if you can afford to pay to come up here to fish, you can afford to buy your own fish at home.
Later that day the guides stopped along the way and we caught some Walleye, which they said that they would cook up for lunch for us.
They stopped at a campfire site fire place, and they took out a three foot wide cast iron frying pan and threw in a one pound hunk of lard. When the lard melted they started filleting the Walleye and removing the skin. Barney, whose father was once a fishmonger said, “Hey fellows, leave the skin on the fish that’s where all the flavor is”. The young guides who I am sure didn’t know their ass from their elbow, looked at Barney like they wanted to kill him. They eventually cooked a few pieces with the skin on to please Barney. Barney was right, his fish tasted better, but I don’t think those young kids learned anything. Barney later said, “These Canadian kids are all morons, and they don’t know what they are doing, anything they put in the frying pan with so much lard would taste good, even a piece of wood.
The next day Barney and I took out a boat by ourselves to try catching Lake trout. It was cold as hell and nothing was biting, Barney, in his usual good humor, took out a small dried kosher salami that he had in his pocket and put a chunk of it on the fish hook, but it didn’t help.
I have to admit it was an interesting fishing trip, but we never saw one lake trout, but I did pack up some Northern Pike fillets to take home to Miami, it was awful, I should have listened to the guides.
I don’t think my son Jack or I will ever forget that Canadian fishing trip, nor will I ever forget my dear friend Barney, He died in 2014 at 96 years of age.