Hold that line! We’re fishing again!

The sports fishermen are among us again, the determined-looking, all-male bands of strangers seeking overnight accommodations before catching the first planes out to the lakes.
And they were piling up in our motels Monday with bad weather threatening to the north.
We welcome their presence as a signal that all’s well in our tourist industry while, at the same time, reviving our longstanding lament over the closing of our promotional facilities–the old fish house and popular fish hatchery.
If his luck failed, or other attractions stole the time and a wife and family a fish dinner back home, the visitor could always deal with Spike Struve on the upper river for a parcel of fish to allay suspicion.
Spike and Dan McCarthy’s fish house, located right across the road from our present water treatment plant, became one of our best-known hospitality centres (our brewery also was just across the street).
Because fishing was where we were all at, from the youngsters who lined the Ranier railroad bridge to snag those giant sturgeon suckers, to fireman Ned Gosselin who looked after their smoking for you, to Big John Fichuk, the papermill blacksmith.
John would lumber out of the machine shop after work, climb into a wooden rowboat, and lower his Chinese net, five feet across on a 12-foot pole and, while rolling and smoking a cigarette, allow the contraption to fill with more fish of all species than one ordinary man could lift.
Three lifts and he’d fill two feed sacks to carry home because he never owned other transportation. He buried the rough fish–the lawyers and suckers–in his vegetable patch for fertilizer and kept the bass, whitefish, and others for his rather large family.
For those purists back in the days when outboard engines were still a rarity, the Pither’s Point Park dock or riverfront sufficed for their pleasure, but fishing was a must, one way or another.
Then the Americans led the way to the district lakes and, after the Causeway arrived, there was no stopping us and everyday there were fresh accounts of how good it was somewhere else.
The laws were usually being well-enforced right along but nobody suspected they eventually would close down much of our widespread commercial fishing, or that Kenora would carry off our fish hatchery or that the fish house would be long gone.
There are those here still believing this watershed is fully as fertile, proportionately, as the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Only there, the cod fishing has been at a standstill and if our walleye grounds are the next thing to be closed to us, you’ve got to expect a revolution.
So we have to trust the authorities to keep us happy and our thousands of guests also and, in the mean time, give up prayers of thanks for the month of May.
• • •
The fellow who handed me this fishing story asked that his name be excluded, so here goes:
A man asks his wife to pack for him for a fishing trip with his boss and to be sure to include his blue silk pyjamas. When he returned a week later, he bragged about his fishing success but wondered why those pyjamas were missing.
His wife wondered also because she had packed them in his tackle box!
• • •
Last week we named some of our rural as well as local merchants in the Clover Valley emporium, so here are some other farmers who should be acknowledged for their contributions there: Jerry Martin who plows with his golf sticks, Bill McDowell, whose Burriss greenhouses are important to us all, Donna Lowey, whose husband and his family keep putting up more greenhouses and also supply Safeway’s plants and flowers.
Then there is their cook, Tess Coish, who for three years has supplied the Chinese cuisine there after coming out of the University of the Far East.
I didn’t mention Danny Merrit and his magic backhouse, but beware!
• • •
Dean Caul left Saturday for another four days in Europe as a welder, this time in Paris. Just back from Germany, he’s seen Portugal and Sweden recently, so his free Air Miles keep on piling up beyond his own expectations of ever making use of them.
Moreover, now they can be given to other people. Check with Dean if you are going places like that! He is a son of the former La Vallee blacksmith, Roy Caul.
• • •
Dave Brockie heard from his old baseball catcher, Hap Clark, the other day after Hap picked up our Times in Calgary, where he is now retired from Western Grocers. Hap retired as an executive in that company which he joined in order to play ball here back in the 30s.
He phones quite regularly, Mrs. Clark being a Campbell from Emo.
Pitcher Dave commented on a Maclean’s magazine article on black players in his day, telling about a game with the Texas Spiders here.
• • •
I’d guess that Knox Presbyterian church may not be our oldest locally but on June 3 that parish will celebrate 117 years in Fort Frances and I get it that, before its fine brick building went up, there were even earlier years in a little red schoolhouse behind CIBC bank.
Which makes it ground a score of years older than the town.
• • •
Another anonymous contributor told me: “My mother told me she would slap me silly, and here I am!”

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