Well, the boys could go fishing on one condition.
Mason was not allowed to go to sleep, not even for one minute. Otherwise, mommy wasn’t getting any sleep that night. Such are the bargains of parenthood.
My parents were in town. My dad was moping around my sister’s house and my daughter was in school. Mason, who turned three in April, had a free schedule. What better way to get outdoors and free my mother and sister from father’s shuffling torments than a boys’ fishing trip down the Ingraham Trail.
And being that this edition of Yellowknifer is our Yk Summer Guide feature I thought I’d add our own wilder-fun adventure to the mix.
These forays into the surrounding hinterlands for fish and forage are not without precedent. Canoe trips up the Yellowknife River, camping trips to Reid Lake amid mud and mosquitoes.
As my dad, the elder of these three Bryant men likes to say: “The family that fishes together, stays together!” I’m stereotyping of course. In our household growing up, that little piece of affirmation adhered neatly to any family event. “The family that bowls together … Shovels snow together …” You get the idea.
On one of my first adventures up the Ingraham Trail with my dad, back in the mid-1970s, we parked alongside some lake, I’m not sure which one, and pitched a tent atop a patch of Labrador tea. The stuff looks comfortable until you try to lie down on it – not unlike a wicker chair that’s gone to splinters.
This was supposed to be a hunting trip although few animals were in danger on this expedition. There was a mouse. I was four or five, not a whole lot older than Mason, I think, and dad had fashioned me a spear out of a twig of alder.
We chased that poor mouse around after it tried to invade our tent. The creature safely escaped into the brambled Labrador tea before we could pose much of a threat. It was a fairly pathetic attempt but I was nonetheless affected by the thrill of the hunt.
A few years later, while camped at Chitty Lake, I woke up early while my dad and his brother were sleeping off an all-night game of crib. I was bored and desperate to catch something so I headed down to the shore with my little Zebco spin-caster.
I quickly got into the fartknockers while casting a red devil spoon from a rock outside the cabin. Back then, I had no concept of catch and release – all fish were a prize worth honouring by their capture, even if they were tiny hammer-handle pike. But what do with all this bounty?
Pressed against the shore was a tiny lagoon separated from the main water by a small inlet. This I dammed with a pile of rocks, and into the lagoon went the pike.
By the time dad got up there were a couple dozen of them in there, slashing around like frantic, miniature sharks.
“Michael! We can’t keep all those fish!” my father exclaimed.
I tearfully watched as he opened up, if reluctantly, the dam to free them.
I didn’t know then but have some inkling now how difficult to bear a young boy’s tears are for fathers trying to please their sons.
During our outing last week I caught a couple whitefish which were instantly claimed by Mason.
“My fish!” He shouted enthusiastically, hugging them close to his chest.
This I indulged until it came time to clean them. Oh the tears, the tears.
I don’t know if Mason will share this wacky passion afflicting me. He’s three and he likes just about anything as long as he is allowed to participate, especially if he can bring along a velociraptor toy or two.
But it’s nice to build memories with him and his grandpa, even if there are a few tears along the way.
The weather is getting nice folks. Get outdoors and enjoy the summer with family and friends – and don’t forget to send Yellowknifer your Catch of the Week photos. You might win a gift certificate from Canadian Tire or a fishing trip with me – and maybe Mason too.
P.S. Unfortunately, he did fall asleep on the way home. Sorry hon.