Monday, October 19, 2009

Romaine River Trip - Fishing

Ben: "I'm positive that there's
fish down here!"

Years ago as a youngster, I loved to fish. (yeah, years ago!) My brother and our neighbours use to hike to the local creeks, rivers, and reservoirs to fish regularly. However being a fairly inpatient person, I got bored waiting to catch fish. (maybe it was my lack of fishing skills?!) Anyhow, with all the numerous canoe trips I head out on, it would seem ideal to throw a line in, especially in those remote out-of-the-way locations. One particular friend of mine (who use to trip with me) is incredulous when I tell him I don't fish on my trips anymore. He loves fishing and shakes his head at the thought of me passing opportunities to fish bodies of water teeming with them or hook into a trophy-sized one. I usually just shrug my shoulders.

Fishing on the Romaine - cold clean running water, solitude,
scenery and of course fish. What more can you ask?

I'm sure you've seen pictures of people with monster-sized fish in the far north. I could only imagine that it would be an experience of a lifetime hooking into one of those giants! So I figured if an opportunity came about (like the Romaine River), I would take my fishing rod. So the trip materializes and guess what I didn't take?! I knew Ben was bringing 2 rods and I figured if he began catching them left, right and center, I would borrow one of his to try my hand at casting. (pleeeese, Ben!)

Massive fish steaks - 3 complete meals for 4 hungry guys!
We weren't about to go hungry anytime soon!

Before heading out on the Romaine, we got various reports of the fishing conditions out there. They seem to hinge on both ends of the spectrum - good to not that great. So with this we headed with some expectations, but not too much. We also took enough food for every meal, so catching fish would only supplement our meals rather than replace them - we were optimistic, not foolish. So off we went, hoping to brag about the "big one", or come back with stories about how amazing the portages were or how much we enjoyed all the rain!

One of the many beautiful brook trout that was
caught lurking by the fast moving water

Okay, lets cut to the chase. The fishing was pretty good! Much better than our reserved expectation! Most opportunities to fish produced results. The only fish we caught on the Romaine were pike and brook trout. We were hoping to catch some of the land-locked salmon, but didn't luck out in this regard. In any case we were not disappointed. Although one time, we almost were.

No, its not caught on a log! Even I had
a big one on the line!
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

When people talk about the "big one" that got away, usually only evidence will vindicate your story. Fish stories always seem to get blown out of proportion. Once Ben hooked into a monster pike that he struggled with for almost 20 mins. All the while intensely discussing with the rest of us how we were going to haul this monster in! We had no net or gaff to pull it in without losing it or our fingers! (pike have rows of big razor-sharp teeth!) At one point as the tired pike rested close to shore Ben realized his line was tangled. But just as he was trying to fix it, the pike jerked violently and snapped the line clean. I'm not going to comment on the choice vocabulary that spewed from his mouth, but lets just say he was rightfully upset. Actually we all were.

You can't get any better than this! Fresh crispy fillets
(just caught) that melt in your mouth!

Of course there was no pictures or video to show how big this fish was, just "our word", so it would have gone down as "another fish story". Well, because we had a bit of time, Ben immediately replaced his spool of line for a stronger one and started casting away. After several cast, - we were all waiting at this point ready to go - his insistence that the present cast would be the "last one" had us rolling our eyes,.....until he hooked onto an even bigger fish! Well this time after another 20 odd mins of fighting the fish (I was surprisingly given the rod after 5 mins - thanks Ben!) we remarkably didn't lose it this time! All of us were filled with nervous energy and relief - yelling and screaming like kids when we safely got this beast onshore. It was an amazing accomplishment through team effort considering the circumstances and lack of proper gear. This time we not only had the pictures to prove it, but the amazing experience of really catching the "big one"!

Almost 4 ft long and 20+ lbs - its a fish guaranteed to
put a smile on any one's face!! Good job Ben!

Of course catching fish is only one part of the equation! Part 2 is enjoying the bounties of the wilderness! So if you figured it out by now, we enjoyed many fish meals - fried fillets battered in Fish Crisp, grilled/smoked fish steaks, fish stews, etc you name it, we had it! All of us were more than thrilled to have so much fresh fish supplementing (more like replacing) our meals. Even Rob, who wasn't much of a "fish person", came to love it so much he was always looking for seconds! We all came away with a positive experience in regards to fishing, - heart-pumping fish fights, sated stomachs, bragging rights and memories of a lifetime captured in pictures. Proof that "fish stories" are actually sometimes true!

What's a fishing trip without a shoreline lunch! Just one of
the great memories from the Romaine River!
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