Welcome to Week LXVI 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 to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
I really like fishing trips which add a bit of something different at times. They are like two trips rolled into one.
And then there are those days when two turns into three things, and it becomes a most excellent day indeed.
Such was the case on a recent Saturday, a Saturday which started out sort of bad since it meant rising to a 6 a.m. alarm.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a real morning person.
That said, as I sat that morning in front of the computer trying to get myself awake, a message popped up on Facebook from a friend wanting to know if it was fishing, or disc golf that had me up so early, reasoning only one of those two things were likely to roust me from the pillow at that time of day.
Well she was right on both counts. The day called for a run to Neepawa where nearby Irwin Lake promised some fishing and the Lion's Riverbend Park Disc Golf Course offered a chance to throw a few.
We wanted to be away early since we would lose an hour crossing the border to Manitoba, something which is a constant reminder of the Saskatchewan Party never coming through with a plebiscite to see if we wanted too move our clocks ahead to gather some additional sunshine for our summer evenings.
The trip goes by quickly, with one coffee fill-up stop at Shoal Lake where I ask if there is actually a lake nearby. The attendant confirmed there was, to which my follow-up was, 'is there shore fishing?' He said yes, and that means another trip is in the offing.
On the way into Neepawa there is a sign pointing to a museum, but that is a bit farther into the story, so I'll leave that for later.
We find a tourist information centre and learn the disc golf course is not far way, in the same park setting as the centre itself.
The course is actually set out in a rather fantastic setting as it winds along the White Mud River?. In fact you actually have to cross two different bridges over the nine-basket course.
Yes folks that means some holes flirt with the water. Basket five is located about 15-20 feet from the river's edge, so an overthrow could mean a disc making a splash.
And basket four is such that if you throw too far left down the fairway the disc might well hook to the river too.
That said, I played two rounds and never felt threatened of the water taking a disc.
The overall course is short, 260-feet being the longest hole, and the whole course measuring only 2040-feet.
That means pars are likely. Over 18 holes I parred 15, and four that were bogeys were the result of two flawed baskets.
The first bad basket is six, designed in such a way there is really no natural portal to drive a disc through what is a very wooded-fairway. Tight windows off the tee-box are one thing, no window where you are left throwing on a prayer is another.
And basket seven had campers snuggled to the right side of the fare way. On a natural drive release the likelihood of planting a driver in the back window of the camper's SVU was so great you had to opt for a shorter shot for safety.
I get the idea and need for shared parks like the one in Neepawa, but closing off access to one camping site should not be too great and expectation for disc golfers either.
Still the initial round was good, and it was time for lunch.
The better half had searched for Chinese restaurants, found the only one listed with some yummy-sounding hot pots on the menu. We head downtown, find a Chinese restaurant, sadly the wrong one in terms of having one of those hot-plates, although the breaded ginger beef at the Bamboo Garden was the best of its kind I've had in years.
With a full stomach I wasn't ready to throw another nine, so we opted for the museum.
I like museums, although I don't stop at most small town offerings. I get their importance in preserving local history, but I am more drawn to themed-museums.
In this case it was the Margaret Laurence Home which is open to the public from the May long weekend through until the end of summer.
This was a museum I just could not pass by. As a humble scribe in the pages of Yorkton This Week, and through a few books of my own, I appreciate the truly-gifted Canadian authors out there.
I might not have said so at the time we took 'The Stone Angel' in school, but time has shown my Laurence's genius as a writer.
For those unfamiliar with Laurence, www.canadian-writers.athabascau.ca provides some background. "One of the most important writers from Western Canada, Margaret Laurence has made a lasting contribution to literature through her novels: The Stone Angel (1964), A Jest of God (1966), The Fire-dwellers (1969) and The Diviners (1974). These books influenced a whole generation of writers in Canada because of their style, rural-Western perspective and also the voice they gave to women.
More on the important books can be found at www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
Laurence''s breakthrough character was "Hagar Shipley, who had developed in her imagination out of her prairie background. The Stone Angel (1964), the story of Hagar's last journey towards recognition of love and freedom, was a landmark event for Canadian literature and the keystone of Laurence's career. It set the town, Manawaka, firmly in Canada's imaginative landscape and pointed the way for the works to follow," noted the encyclopedia site.
"A Jest of God (1966) is the story of Rachel Cameron, who, through the ordeal of one summer in Manawaka in the 1960s, finds a fragile but sustaining selfhood. Seven of the eight stories of A Bird in the House were published from 1962 onward; with the addition of an eighth they were gathered together and published in 1970. The maturing of Vanessa MacLeod, their heroine, is based on Margaret Laurence's own experiences. The deaths of her own parents, the changes caused first by loss and grief and then by the practical circumstances of her life are present in Vanessa's story, not in correspondence of detail, but in truth of spirit. Stacey MacAindra of The Fire-Dwellers (1969) is Rachel Cameron's sister. Married to a struggling salesman, living in Vancouver and mother of four, Stacey is the beleaguered housewife of our time. She thinks of herself as commonplace and ordinary, but Laurence's great achievement is to reveal to us her extraordinary qualities of love, fortitude and vitality.
"The Diviners (1974), the story of writer Morag Gunn, is true in its spirit to Laurence's own maturing and is the climactic work of the Manawaka cycle. A complex and profound novel, it brings the Scottish pioneers and the Métis outcasts of Manawaka together and culminates in the joining of past and present and the affirming of the future in the person of Pique, the daughter of Morag and Jules Tonnere."
The Diviners was made into a movie in 1993 starring Sonja Smits and Tom Jackson, and in 2007 Ellen Burstyn starred in The Stone Angel.
Neepawa of course was an integral element for Laurence both as her birthplace and her muse.
"She was born in 1926 as Jean Margaret Wemys in the town of Neepawa, Manitoba, the inspiration for the town of Manawaka in her novels," stated the website.
Laurence was of course much recognized for her writings. "During her life Laurence received many honours: the Governor-General's Award for A Jest Of God (1967), Companion of the Order of Canada (1972) and 14 honourary degrees from Canadian universities," noted the Athabasca University site.
As a writer I must say looking at the typewriter where an author of Laurence's stature may have created some of the most enduring stories in Western Canadian history is pretty darned awe-inspiring and humbling. To look out a window on a town not so unlike Tisdale where I grew up, or even of Yorkton, and realizing she saw it as the model for her great works brings the old adage about writing what you know into tighter focus. It was a stop well worth making.
But back to fishing. As we had wondered through Laurence's one time home, it had showered — hard. Water was running down the curbs.
Yet a couple of miles southeast of Neepawa where we found Irwin Lake the dust was still blowing.
We found a large dock area and got to fishing.
It showered. No fish.
I changed hooks repeatedly. No fish.
And then I opted for a six-inch swim'n'jerk bait from Lunkerhunt (www.lunkerhunt.com), in a colour much like the frozen minnows the better half was still fish jigging with.
I'll note here Lunkerhunt has a great range of lures, and being Canadian is a line well worth taking a closer look at.
The second cast, bam. I finally get a strike, the first in probably 90-minutes of fishing.
It was a pike. A tiny pike at that. One that I truly wanted to be kind and send back to the lake so it grew up.
But alas, as pike often are, it was a hungry little pike, swallowing the swim'n'jerk deep, the hook lodging in a gill that protruded and was bleeding. I've seen more than one fisherman toss such fish back, knowing the likelihood of its survival was next to nil. I can't be one of those fisherman.
It would be the only fish of the day, and cleaning a small pike at the end of great day of fishing, in spite of the showers, disc golfing and museum viewing, was not exactly the greatest thing to look forward too, it is what we fisherman should do at times.
And so he is in the freezer, just part of the sort of day that makes the hobby great in what it can offer.