Memories of past fishing trips can bring a lifetime of happy thoughts. As many are aware, I am prone to random recollections. These random recollections can be for no apparent reason, other than they tend just to be a fond memory lost in the cells of my intellect storage device. I bet many of us who have participated in a fishing vacation or perhaps a bass fishing rally, will acknowledge some of the things remember for years, had nothing to do with fishing. It just so happens they happened while on a fishing vacation or getaway. Every once in a while, memories escape their confines and bring me great joy. This blog is presented to share one of these memories.
THE GREAT CANADIAN PEPSI CAPER
I believe it was about 1961, my best friend and I went on a fishing trip with a couple of guys who were more like our big brothers than just fishing friends. This was not just an ordinary fishing adventure it was a wilderness style camping trip to La Verendrye Park in Quebec. As I recall, it was about this time of year, early June, when we headed out from Mansfield, Ohio in two cars pulling two aluminum boats loaded with our camping gear and fishing tackle. A trip to Canada is a trip of a lifetime for a couple of Ohio kids and something we had dreamed about. Our friends were both firemen and thought they would let us tag along. They were not strangers to us, we had known them our entire lives, and we looked up to them. Not only for their profession but also for their willingness to teach us about fishing for all kinds of species. As kids, we could only dream about hooking up with one of those famous toothy Canadian critters. As it turns out, we were about to get our wish.
After driving all day and all night, we arrived at the park. After buying our fishing licenses and some specific tackle, we headed to the general area of our camping location. It was still relatively cold in Canada, some streams still had ice flowing indicating ice out had not been too long ago. We arrived at a remote place where the cars could be parked, and the boats and equipment were unloaded. We then headed out on the lake only to land on an island about a mile away from the cars. Before we even set up camp the fishing tackle got put in service with all four of us casting all over the place to see who could catch the first fish. Fishing was so good it only took a few minutes before all of us had hooked into some walleye we kept and ate for dinner. After the camp was established, and the fire pit/cooking spot made ready, it was time for our first shore dinner. For the next week, we caught so many fish we just could not believe our good fortune.
The weather was still very unpredictable. I remember one morning climbing out of the sleeping bag and picking up a rod and making a cast out on the lake. Ice had actually formed, and the lure just slid across the top of the lake on a light skim of ice. When the sun came up, it quickly melted and never got this cold again during the trip. I do remember experiencing a quick arriving Canadian storm front. The wind blew hard, and we actually had a few snow flurries and then it happened. A birch tree near the rear of our tent was blown over in the storm landing directly on our tent. It so happens we were not inside, and no one was hurt. Since then I have always respected the fast-moving Canadian storm.
Getting back to the Pepsi story, I have to say my best friend was not really good at sharing anything. He had caught a huge northern pike, his personal best, and he decided he wanted to keep it and take it back to Ohio. Since we did not have a cooler big enough, Jim chose to use a burlap bag. Put in some ballast and then put in the fish. He attached it to a long anchor line and on the other end, he tied on a 1-gallon jug. He put the bag into a boat and went out into the channel and sunk it into the ice-cold water. The jug marked the spot and could be easily retrieved.
As one might imagine, towards the end of our stay we were running out of just about everything. We had lots of walleye, but not much else. However, we noticed each day my friend would jump into a boat by himself and go out to the spot and the jug. He would pull up the burlap bag and look inside. We had no idea what he was doing but decided later to find out what he was looking at. My best friend had gone out fishing and we took the other boat and headed for the floating jug. We pulled up the bag and now knew what he was looking at all this time. It turns out he used a case of Pepsi Cola as ballast along with some canned meat and peaches. The only thing left for us to do was to drink all of his Pepsi, eat all of the canned goods and place the empty containers back in the bag and sink it back into the channel. It seems my friend had been holding out on us, and instead of sharing his stash with us, he kept it all to himself. When my friend returned from fishing he stopped by his floating jug marker and hauled up his burlap bag and made the discovery, he had been burglarized. All I remember about it now is in the quiet of the wilderness evening all we heard was an outraged person yelling at the top of his lungs. He was calling us names to suggest the marital status of our mothers at the time of our birth. Here it is so many years later, and the memory of the Pepsi Caper is still alive and well in our sub-conscience. A little bit ago, I called my childhood friend and asked him if he had any more Pepsi. Once again, I heard the loud, profane yell which pierced the Canadian evening so many years ago.
Fishing vacations create so many memories lasting a lifetime, and they don’t always have to involve pictures of fish.
Check out another great read from Bud called the Aging Angler