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Fishing in Canada

The summer before I was a junior in high school, my step dad decided to reward our good behavior by taking my brother and me on a fishing trip to Canada. Many people (that being my mother) felt that there was an unusually narrow window of opportunity to even notice good behavior on my part. Mostly my friends involved me in their misadventures and although I was, myself, completely innocent, I seemed to attract the lion’s share of the blame. This time, however, I had had a pretty uneventful month. I had not been arrested; I had broken no bones, neither mine nor anyone else’s; I had not stampeded anyone’s cattle; and I hadn’t created any kind of animal trap which might result in loss of life or limb to man or beast. As I say, it had been a pretty uneventful month.

Pop felt it was time to expose my brother and me to that rite of passage, the all guys fishing trip. Six of the eight on the trip were old geezers in their 30’s or 40’s who mostly lived to fish, play poker, drink adult beverages, and tell really amusing jokes that young teenagers are not supposed to understand or find amusing.

We drove from Zanesville, Ohio, to the Trent River in the Province of Ontario in two cars. Upon arriving at our cabin, which had 6 bunks and some floor space for sleeping accommodations (guess who got to sleep on the floor), we unpacked and immediately went to town for supplies. Supplies consisted of several cases of Canadian ale, some pancake mix, bacon and some beer. There was also hard likker but it had been brought from home. Back at the cabin the supplies were stowed, the ale and beer were put on ice, a brief supper was cooked and eaten and the ritual poker game began.

Two things need some explanation. First supper. It consisted of the pancake mix wet down with ale and cooked in a big skillet. The ale caused the pancakes to swell up to about 6 inches thick and the consumption of these ale soaked pancakes produced an uncommon amount of intestinal gas which, when released at the poker game, made the supper scene in Blazing Saddles seem like a silent prayer meeting at church. Second my brother and I had learned to play poker last summer, at band camp, and we were actually pretty good at it. Although we were at first patronized by the big guys, we were, in fact, fairly consistent winners. This caused the big guys to pout.

The next morning the serious fishing was to begin. We were rousted out of bed in the middle of the night, which occurred 1 hour before daylight. Everyone got dressed in warm clothes because in Canada in July it’s cold. The popular notion that there is no summer in Canada is completely untrue. Summer comes every year. That particular year summer had occurred on the previous Saturday.

Everyone collected copious amounts of fishing gear and headed for the dock, which was about 40 yards away. One of the Tyler brothers, Junior, was leading the way. As he was about to set his stuff down on the dock a large creepy-crawler creepy crawled up his pants leg. You should know that although Canada has a very short and concentrated summer, it could grow some king-sized bugs in that very short time. The one in question appeared to have two or maybe three hundred legs and a bunch of hair. It made a big issue about crawling up Junior’s leg. Junior reacted by dumping most of his fishing tackle into the river and trying to get his pants off as soon as possible. He managed to get his pants down around his ankles but his big boots prevented going farther. He then tried to run away from the wooly-booger but running with his pants down proved to more complicated than he anticipated. He fell into the river with his fishing tackle.

The commotion seemed to attract more fish than it scared. If you have ever been skinny-dipping in a body of water filled with hungry fish you know where this is going.


The fish began to nibble on Junior and one, seizing the opportunity, seized a part of Junior’s anatomy, which guys instinctively try to protect. (On themselves; not on Junior.) The formal Latin name for this part of the anatomy is penis. (You were warned.) The common name is the same as the nickname of Richard Chaney, currently the Vice President of the United States. The protection instinct kicked in and Junior quickly leaned forward to drive away the small but deadly fish and, in doing so, smacked his forehead sharply on the dock, opening up a large gash (on Junior; not the dock), which bled profusely. My brother and I, trying to be good boy scouts, succeeded in pulling Junior out of the freezing water and laying him on the dock to moan and groan. By now the blood in the water seemed to be attracting more and larger fish.

Although the rest of the party expressed some concern and sympathy for Junior, the presence of such a large number of fish aroused the fishing instinct in all of them. I really don’t know that there is a “fishing instinct” but, given the behavior of Junior’s friends, I feel certain there must be. They broke out rods and reels and began to fish in earnest. Fishing was surprisingly good. When it slowed down a bit, my step dad suggested that Junior might stick his head back in the river for “just a minute” to wash out the wound a bit more.

Eventually the fish quit biting and someone suggested (somewhat reluctantly I thought) that perhaps we should take Junior to the medic to get his head sewed up.

All in all the trip turned out to be pretty successful, particularly for my brother and me. We caught lots of fish, won quite a bit of money playing poker, and passed our rite of passage hence becoming men.