There is a curious animal that inhabits the fishing camps of the Far North, and it is called the "camp dog." My first recollection of camp dogs comes from 1988 after a six-year hiatus from Canadian fishing due to living in Alaska and other conflicts.
"It's been rough and rocky traveling but I'm finally standing upright on the ground. And after taking several readings, I'm surprised to find my mind's still fairly sound." — Willie Nelson I've had a time of it during the last decade with seven surgeries in seven years, a drop foot, and a six-year bout with cancer, so the thought of hobbling around in front of my former classmates at our 50th reunion didn't particularly appeal to me. However, in the end, I decided to attend so I emailed a committee member my "50-year highlights" from the past half century:
The last time I saw my high school yearbook from 1967 ("Zee-ka-tow") was probably when we packed our belongings in Alaska and moved to Montana. That was in 1986. About a month ago, with my 50th JHS reunion approaching, I began speculating about which of the many boxes in our garage the year book might be stowed. That's when Laurie brought in a box with "Bern-mementos-high school photos-baby books" written on the end of it. Maybe this was where I packed the year book more than three decades ago.
(Last of two parts) So much rain and snow fell in the Churchill River system of Saskatchewan this year that places like Pelican Narrows and Lake Mirond were 4 1/2-to-5 feet higher than normal. Enough of that water drains down the Sturgeon-Weir River and into Amisk Lake so that the lake is two feet higher than last year, and higher than I have seen it in the 50 years I have been fishing there.
(First of two parts) For the third year in a row, we see a cow moose standing along the timber north of Roblin, Manitoba, and once we are in Saskatchewan, a black bear sprints from the edge of the gravel road leading to camp and scrambles up a white birch tree. On either side of her a small cub also climbs 20 feet up a tree of its own. Laurie is delighted to see the three bears.
When I was a youngster growing up in the 1950s, most of us started fishing with spincast reels that we called "push-buttons" — Zebco 66s and 22s or Johnson Centuries. They had lousy drags and generally were a nuisance to use. Level-wind bait reels at the time had no spool disengagements and no drags.
Mark Twain pondered the worth of the common housefly and didn't come up with a definitive answer, except to point out that God had a curious way of allowing the housefly to wreak havoc on animals, including humans. I suspect he would have said the same about the mosquito. Mosquitoes have been present for more than 200 million years, and according to Cutter's, makers of insect repellent, there are some 2,500 species of mosquito worldwide, including 150 variations in the U.S.
For decades I transported fishing rods in PCV pipe holders that my Dad put together for me. A couple of my rods came with their own cases, and with most of my rods being one-piece spinning and bait-casting rods, all those tubes took up a lot of room in the box of my pickup. But they did the job. One time in Saskatchewan someone backed over one of the cases with no damage done to the rods it contained.
Tales of big northern pike always interest me, even though many of the stories may be "stretchers." One time I actually met a guy who with a straight face told me he caught a 46-pound pike in North Dakota and released it.
It's been more than three decades since I hunted coastal brown bears and more than four decades since I hunted interior grizzlies, but I must say that hunting them provided a measure of drama and excitement not found in hunting most game. Both interior grizzly and coastal brown bear are the same species — Ursus Arctos. The coastal bears generally grow to larger size due to a more favorable food source, which includes five species of Pacific salmon, and lots of sedges and bear grass in the milder coastal regions.