Welcome to Week XXXV of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access a boat a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
Well I spent last Wednesday afternoon in the morgue.
No worries, no one had died. It was the newspaper's morgue in the basement, the room where past issues of the paper are stored.
I was there getting my hands blackened with printer's ink as I pawed through 2012 editions of the paper looking for stories I had penned I deemed worthy of entering in this year's Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Competition.
So what has this to do with a fishing column you are wondering?
Well as it turns out I figured the accumulated eight months of fishing articles fit quite nicely into the Best Recreation Story, or Series of Stories category.
Fishing certainly fits nicely with the categories definition "For the purpose of this competition "recreation" is defined as an event or experience in which an individual voluntarily participates during his/her leisure time because of the personal benefits and satisfaction he/she derives from participating and is not impelled by a delayed reward beyond itself or by any declaring of a winner."
But as I thought back on the articles I realized my interest in fishing has spilled over into other areas, that while related to fishing are in-fact other areas of recreation in and of themselves.
While it was a blast to sit on a rock on the shores of Stoney Lake last summer on a bright sunny morning and catch a feisty little pike on a bottle cap lure I had fashioned myself.
It was equally exciting to hook a pike at the Theodore Dam on a painted spoon handle lure I had made, even if it was the only catch of the day.
But as much fun as the catching of the fish was, the actually research and crafting of the bottle cap hooks, those made from common kitchen spoons, and the wine cork and disposable razor handle lures which followed was a great recreation too.
I have never been the craftiest person around, with only a few homemade board games to show as evidence I have ever actually built, or made anything.
So undertaking the lures was stretching a limited skill set, and by some weird twist of fate it worked. I can understand how some could be happy creating lures and never fishing them. It is a way to relax and be creative on days when you just feeling like doing something for yourself.
I am currently awaiting arrival of the book Making Wooden Fishing Lures: Carving and Painting Techniques That Really Catch Fish! by Rich Rousseau (you will read more about the book in a future article I promise). The book is all about making your own wooden lures, and I am excited by the prospect of trying to create some of the examples given as I am about then fishing with the lures.
Of course when you do fish with a homemade lure you are hoping for a catch, and that means a meal of tasty pike or walleye or perch is on the horizon.
I love fish just dredged in flour and fried, but I also have a creative side when it comes to cooking.
I love to experiment, usually raiding the spice rack for flavours, and dirtying every pot and pan in the kitchen before finishing.
Fortunately, most of the time the result of the effort has proven tasty, and so it was a natural to start creating dishes around the fish I caught, several of which have been shared here in the past, and more are to come.
My favourite has been the pike chili for its simple use of pike, although the depth of flavours in the coconut curry pike soup was pretty darned good too.
But back to the idea of recreation. Cooking as an act itself is a recreation many enjoy. I can see people enjoying fish recipes who have never held a fishing rod.
Now I just mentioned waiting on a book's arrival. The one on making lures is pretty much one only a craftsman, or fisherman is going to look at.
But there are many books with elements of fishing which are just great reads for anyone.
If you want to get a feel for the majesty of a trout stream, or a feel for the philosophy of fishing, mixed with humour then any book by John Gierach is recommended.
I just finished Another Lousy Davy in Paradise and Dances with Trout by the author. I am a huge fan as you will read in more detail in an upcoming review.
And then there are the 'fishing mysteries' books like those by Victoria Houston reviewed here previously.
The books use fishing as a backdrop, but are still mysteries at their heart.
Like cooking, reading is a recreation for many, and books with elements of fishing will appeal to those who do not count themselves as anglers.
I also realized as I contemplated the idea of recreation that a fisherman could easily be a birdwatcher too.
I can tell a red-winged blackbird from a mallard duck, but I have no particular interest in documenting every sparrow species I might see.
I do appreciate the beauty of that red-winged blackbird singing on a reed while I jig for perch at Cutarm Creek, just as I marvel at a group of pelicans catching fishing at Melville Reservoir when I as a Yorkton Terrier hockey fan was being skunked. I really blame Pan the Greek God of Fishing for it. As I recall I heard his flute that night I'm sure.
That said I appreciate the dedication to a hobby many birdwatchers have, and realize the two forms of recreation could easily compliment one another.
As I think about the past year fishing, and the way other forms of recreation seem to creep into it, I also come to the joy of photography.
I took at camera with me. I needed pictures for the articles, and besides where there are slot limits your only proof of a nice fish comes from photographic evidence.
But I wish now I'd put down my fishing rod a bit more and picked up the camera more often.
Now it's not that the camera gear I have access to is great. In fact in terms of digital technology it's maybe a tad better than a Studebaker compared to a 2013 car.
So when I see a bud like Peter Baran out taking photographs for fun, and he takes thousands, I will admit to a passing jealousy.
Now in the case of bud Shayne Yasinski it's another story. I've kibitzed with Shayne often, having interviewed him on radio controlled four wheeling, weird horror-themed modeling, and the work he did on restoring a Volkswagen beetle. But as a photographer that big lens he carries might be a bit over compensation for something, although I still wish I had his gear.
But even with the limited gear I use I wish that cloudy day at Lucky Lake I had snapped some pictures of the gentleman readying his small boat, an island in the lake background to his launch.
And there was the little garter snake swimming at Cutarm Creek, and the group of Oriental gentleman readying to cook at whole walleye right on the shore at Lake of the Prairies. Those shots would have caught the essence of joys of fishing, the beauty, the nature, the camaraderie, and I wish I had been a bit less focused in fishing and a bit more attuned at the moment to capturing the experience.
I hope I remember this more this year and make the recreation of photography more a compliment to fishing. I might even pull over and snap a few weird cloud formations like those I tease Peter for taking.
So fishing might be a passion of myself and others, but it can incorporate many recreational aspects to make it truly a lifestyle of variety.
Oh yes, and I did enter last year's fishing articles in the 'recreation category', but whether I win, or not isn't particularly important to me. It could be that I have a bunch of awards already hanging on the wall, and yes that is a little bit of bragging, but it has more to do with the fact this series is the most fun I've had writing as a journalist in a quarter century of work.
The memories of every trip and homemade hooks, recipe and good read, remain fresh in my mind.
And then there is the sharing with you the readers. It's a blast when people comment 'it's a must read' for them, or they simply ask where I've been fishing lately. That trumps any award the articles might garner, not that I'll turn down a plaque if it's offered later this year.