Good fishing is where you find it!

Fishing, for me, has frequently included the adventure of seeing places I never knew before.
As a youngster, before the papermill fence shut us out, we could carry our bamboo fishing poles down to the lower river, then wade out to rock islands to catch a few meals at this time of year.
Later in life, the new places we explored ranged from all corners of Rainy Lake, right up to the Devil’s Cascade at the north end, to the Rat River area far beyond Brule Narrows, and even all the way east to Kettle Falls.
Then, using a car instead of boat, we could try out the big rapids below the road at Nestor Falls and also explore that neighbourhood where we’d meet several resort operators, including the Crawfords, Larsons, and Helliars, who might offer to let you take a boat onto Lake of the Woods.
There were other things we thought about while wandering our waterways, such as swimming and becoming better acquainted because usually we found ourselves surrounded by hospitality.
Sometimes we met summer visitors just as curious about our hometown as we were about them—and sociability became a strong bond with fishing.
Fortunately, we knew genuine outdoorsmen such as the Kielczewskis, whose labours concerned fishing entirely. This gave them a healthy life that we envied.
So on my first visit to their home, I learned to help clean a huge fish net on a giant spool in their yard. I saw how the blue crabs could snarl up the twine, so it took hours to clean or it soon become useless.
The investment they put into fishing made my old bamboo pole look useless, but those poles were sold by Wells Hardware here and cost only 25 cents. Yet they worked well with only spinners and sinkers on the line.
I never owned a regular fishing outfit, including a reel, until after the war.
The net idea caught my imagination very early when I was invited aboard the mill blacksmith’s river rowboat and I watched him use a hoop net about five feet across on a pole—and bring up fish with every cast.
We took more fish than we could carry home in sacks that day.
Then I saw later that Big John Fichuk, or “Black Mike” as the millmen called their blacksmith, was using part of his catch—the rough fish he took home—for planting in his potato patch.
My dad also would do this in his Mine Centre garden, using suckers taken in late April from a nearby creek as fertilizer.
Taking all our experiences together, I’d say a fair amount of my time went into fishing one way or another. And I’d guess even yet that whatever fishing time we get can’t be considered wasted.
Because one way or another, it’s become a pastime important to this area in many ways.
No, I don’t suppose I’ll be buying another boat right away regardless of how badly I miss the waterways, but the memories will always be valuable to me.
• • •
Working around our paper machines here these days must be blistering hot, but a high school boy I met does not complain. That’s because his regular wager is $23.50 per hour and overtime pay at time-and-a-half becomes $35!
Our summer employment jobs around the mill when I was a boy was 56¢ an hour until a “cost of living” increase raised them to 65 cents.
No, that was not recently!
• • •
All kinds of wildlife—deer and moose, bear, and even a seldom-seen wolf—have been spotted around our towns and highways so far this summer.
But worst of all is the number of skunks seen invading downtown areas—the worst infestation anyone can remember.
• • •
Norm Andrews, back on Rainy Lake for another summer, stopped to shake hands.
He has retired from CNR employment, where he knew my late brother-in-law, John Madill, and still keeps a home in Winnipeg, where John’s widow, Gail, reads our paper every week.
• • •
Bill McLean of La Vallee is a reader I don’t meet very often, but at lunch I realized he was aquainted with Fritz Bujold, brother of Buck, and I had to confess being out of touch there also.
Sure, it’s a small world but I don’t get around so much anymore!
• • •
Howard Pointer, 91, of Columbus Place here, has been enjoying a visit from Edmonton by his niece, Linda, and husband, George Toews.
• • •
While from Scotland comes Ed and Eileen J. Quinn of Glasgow. He was not aware Fort Frances is home to numerous war brides from over there as a result of our 17th Forestry Corps spending the war years in the Land of the Heather.
Their home address is Clydsbank.
• • •
Here and there around town, there are a considerable number of big old trees with dead branches waiting to fall in all the wrong places and our town workers will be kept very busy almost any day now.
Some of those soon-to-be deadfalls still have well-leafed branches among the dead ones. All this would never have become a problem in our old wood-burning days.
• • •
Guy Mudge stops to talk about his family’s early tourist resort on Seine Bay close to the legendary Old Mine Centre of gold rush days, of which very little remains around this once-busy spot but broken foundations of buildings.
The senior Mudge family is now all gone, along with the miners.
The last Mine Centre as a village disappeared when the passenger trains stopped running, when the highway opened to the east, during the 1950s.
• • •
Among so many visitors here for the long weekend were Bud and Ila McLennan from Wisconsin. She pointed me out to him as the Times columnist they read every week to stay in touch with her hometown names.
She is the former well-known Ila Frant, who was in high school during my time there.
• • •
Al Bedard’s wife called me a “Cupid’s Arrow” when I told her I had introduced a old chum, Don McKutcheon, to his wife, Connie, who was formerly a Bigler of International Falls, which was Mrs. Bedard’s former home.
The McKutcheons were still in Vancouver last I heard.
• • •
As I watched the crowd at the start of our Canada Day parade, I became aware that I recognized very few people there whereas a few years ago, I could have exchanged hellos with at least one in 20 and felt much more at home.
Of course, our holiday crowds come together from everywhere because our community always welcomes hordes of visitors.

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