It’s the first fishing rod I’ve owned since I was a young girl. We were planning a 3-week canoe camping trip to the Yukon, and my brother asked if I was planning to fish. I decided, why not? As a pescatarian I should know how to catch what I eat. Unfortunately, the first sign that my re-introduction to fishing would not go smoothly was the disappearance of my rod when we arrived in Whitehorse. My reel, safe in my bag, had arrived, but the tube with my rod had been left in Toronto. Thankfully, my brother had brought an extra rod so I did manage to do some fishing on the trip, and get a few refresher lessons in casting.
By the time we returned to Ontario I had the fishing bug, and I bought a fishing license my first week back. Encouraged by catching a large bass on my first time out on the lake, I made a trip to the hardware store to buy more lures. For Labour Day weekend, I convinced a friend to go on a two-night camping trip along the York River. With visions of cooking fish over the fire, I excitedly packed my rod and growing tackle box.
During the day I didn’t fish as we had multiple portages, but as dusk fell at our first campsite I announced to my friend that I was going fishing. Not much of an angler himself, he looked at me skeptically and went back to lounging by the fire. I loaded up the canoe with my tackle box, and spent about 10 minutes trying to tie my lure onto the line in the semi-darkness. My lure finally tied, I reached down and picked up the rod to reel in some line. But alas, I felt only empty space where the handle for the reel should be. With my headlamp I searched in and around the canoe, and along the shoreline, but it was gone. I realized that it must have come loose and fallen off on the portage trail. Disappointed, I retreated back to the campfire, as there would be no fishing that evening.
The good news was that we were backtracking from the lake where we’d camped back to the river, so I would have a chance to look for the handle along the portage trail the next day. On our first carry I didn’t see anything, but about halfway back to get our second load of gear, I saw a piece of metal, and there it was! There would be fishing action that night. However, that evening when I prepared to go out on the lake to fish I noticed something wasn’t quite right. The handle wasn’t staying attached to the reel. Looking more closely, I realized that the little screw that holds the handle in place was missing. It too must have been lost along the portage trail. Although the handle would not stay in, I could still reel in the line by holding it in place. Undaunted, I paddled out onto the lake and came up with a system of removing the handle to cast so it wouldn’t pop out into the lake, then re-attaching it to reel in the line. Very inconvenient especially when I got a bite and needed to start reeling in fast, but functional enough. Despite a few bites that evening I didn’t catch anything. The next morning I was determined, and went out again as the morning mist was still clearing off the lake. I had no bites at first, but then decided to change lures and give one more try. On my first cast with the new lure I had a bite! I could tell immediately it was a good one. Sure enough, it was a lovely largemouth bass. Delighted, but not in the mood to clean a fish, I snapped a photo and released my catch back into the river.
I should have just left it at that, but during our paddle back along the river that day, I decided to try a couple casts. I pulled the rod out, cast, but realized we’d drifted into a much shallower area than I thought. I turned to put the rod back behind my seat when I heard a “plunk!” I knew right away what that meant. Looking down, I could see the gleam of the reel handle on the sandy bottom of the river. Clearly this rod had something against me, but I would not let it win. I paddled over to shore nearby, told my friend to turn away, stripped down to my underwear, and hopped into the river. I waded over to where my reel handle was, spotted it, and dunked underwater to retrieve it. Climbing back into the canoe I got dressed again, and secured the handle in a zipper pocket. Better not push my luck.