Monday, 11 June 2012

Gone fishin'

Hello every one!

I haven't posted anything all weekend and here I am at 3 in the morning in the night of Sunday to Monday writing a post. Honestly, for me the morrow doesn't come until I fall asleep and wake up from my alarm clock. Even if it's just five minutes. And if I stay up all night, then I'll be forced to acknowledge the next day when I'm sitting at my desk at work just to conform with my peers. But, I'll still believe it's day before. If that all makes any sense.

On a completely unrelated note, let me tell you about my grandpa. He is this kind of man who is tough as nails. He almost tore his foot off his leg last fall in an accident implicating a step ladder and while everyone else around was trying not to faint or puke, he just quietly waited for the ambulance. When they got there they asked him what his pain was like on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the least painful, and he said 3. He's 63 and he's as strong as an ox. He's also a hunter and he taught me and my sister how to use a bow and arrow. My sister even won a silver medal in a provincial archery competition! If we ever have a zombie apocalypse, he's the man I'd want to hang around with. I swear, even Chuck Norris ain't got nothing on him.

My grandpa is a member of a hunting and fishing club somewhere in the beautiful region of the Eastern Townships where our family also has a cabin. Every year the club holds a family fishing day where the club members can bring their family to go fish in a pond in which they seed fish. OK, so it's kind of cheating, whatever. I could catch a fish in a Montreal pothole if I wanted to, so suck it!

Sherbrooke street's a great spot to catch some pike! (©CBC)

I went there with my dear papa, grandpa, sister, her boyfriend, and two young cousins. We had a helluva good day together. Fishing is one of my most favorite activities. There's nothing that turns me more zen and relaxed than going out in the woods, getting some fresh air and go fish some tasty trouts. And then eat them en papillotte on the BBQ with some lemon and butter and a tasty wild rice. YUM! By the way, the forest there has the most amazing smell of sweet pine, fir and chamomile. The bright green colors and the clear blue sky have the most calming effect. It's the most intense relaxing experience for all your senses. Just make sure you cover yourself with some OFF! spray to keep the damn deer flies away or you might be eaten alive.

This is the fishing pond

This is just on the other side of the dam of the pond.

You step off the trail and you discover a beautiful forest with a thick fern carpet.
Betcha we could get a lot of tasty fiddle heads there in the spring!

Here's a panorama of the river leading to the pond, the trail and the woods around it.

Watch out for these bastards.
When they bite, the leave with a chunk of flesh and you'll bleed to death!

At first, they let the young kids fish in the morning until the middle of the afternoon to give them a chance to catch the most fish. Everyone gets a five fish quota. It's easy at first because there's just so much fish in there. You have to push them aside to cast your line in the water. Alright, alright, I'm exaggerating, but seriously the moment you cast your line in the water you get a bite. The kids love it because it's so easy for them and they get so excited every time they pull a fish out of the water. I get a blast just watching their reaction because it reminds me of my childhood when my dad and grandpa used to take me fishing. By the time it's the adults' turn, the pond gets pretty much cleaned out.

The little cousin, waiting patiently for his next catch.

At a boy!

Many people brought their grand kids. 
(I guess that includes my grandpa and I. And I'm 30!)

That's our family's spot.

While the kids were busy catching fish in the pond, my dad, brother in law and I went down the river to catch some smaller, but much tasty brook trout. I was geared up in my rubber boots to be able to cross some shallow streams but it rained a lot this year and it was a lot deeper than anticipated. My brother in law was wearing shorts and he just took off his shoes and crossed the stream barefoot. My dad, being a from the country himself, followed shortly after and managed to cross by getting the least amount of water in his boots. When I tried to follow after them, needless to say my feet were  used to a more urban terrain. So I slipped on a rock and both my feet went in the deep. So I was standing there, in the middle of the stream, looking at my own two submerged feet thinking well fuck. All I could do now is cross over to the other side with the water up to my knees and my boots completely filled up. On the other side I sat down and struggled to take the boots off because my feet were stuck in there with the suction. Then I took off my socks, rung out the water, put the boots back on barefoot and off I went to catch up on the guys. I caught up to them and they were fishing around a nice little spot in the shade. It took just a couple of minutes and they already pulled out 3 small trouts. Unfortunately, I was too busy laying out my socks to dry, but I did manage to find a few interesting things.

Looks easy enough.

Heck, if my old man can do it, I sure can!

Guess not...

The fish probably smelled my feet and swam upstream to avoid the stink.


Apparently, some beavers were hanging around somewhere building a dam and I found some chewed up wood. It always fascinated me how they actually chewed through trees like a sharpened pencil, just like in the cartoons. 

As a Canadian, I remember chewing through my pencils in school just like this!

I bet he was expecting a soft creamy maple sugar center and gave up.

One important thing to mention is that the area is filled with the most amazingly beautiful rocks you'll ever find. And most of them are filled with fool's gold, also known as pyrite. As a kid, when we went to the cabin, I'd always bring back a few for my rock collection. I used to spend a whole afternoon picking up the most unusual rocks and breaking some of them up to get perfect little cubes of fool's gold. Most of the rocks have pyrite in them and the metal will oxidize making the rocks look like they're a bunch of soul-less gingers.  (haha!) I heard somewhere that Christopher Columbus brought back a ton of this stuff in Europe thinking it was actual gold and everyone made fun of him. The rocks come in almost every color imaginable and there's also a lot of bright white silica crystal-like rocks as well.. My brother in law managed to find one that was bright purple and all smoothed out by the water and kept it. Some of them have this pearlescent blue-gray color that makes them look like they're made of satin. It's absolutely beautiful.

A rock with big chunks of yet un-oxidized pyrite.

After a while we weren't getting any bite, just a bunch of small minnows nibbling away at our worms. It was time for lunch so we headed back to the pond for some hot dogs and burgers. The great outdoors really works up an appetite so I wolfed down two burgers and an then hung out drinking an ice cold beer with my sis and bro-in-law.

This is the life.

We had some time to kill before we could start fishing in the pond and my socks were finally dry. I didn't feel like getting them wet again so I put on my hiking shoes and went for a little walk deeper in the woods. I shot some pretty amazing pictures. One of them was a bunch of yellow butterflies that were all huddled together in the middle of the trail. As I got closer to take a shot, they suddenly flew off as I pressed the shutter button and I was left with a picture of what was getting all their attention: a fresh turd. I promptly deleted that picture with a feeling of missed opportunity.

Where does that trail lead to? The possibilities are endless!
Adventure? The U.S. border? A hungry bear?

In the Eastern Townships you can find entire fields full of daisies.
I bet I could make a fortune weaving them into crowns and sell them to hippies on Etsy.

It was mating season for the butterflies.
Looks like this bad dude's got some fresh battle scars.

Tree cancer?

A bumblebee close to our camp.

When I got back it was finally time for the bigger kids to start fishing. I got my line all set up with some juicy worms, found a nice little spot where I can sit and relax next to the water and finally cast my line. It was quiet, most of the kids were gone and those who were left were already tired from all the morning excitement. The fish were certainly not biting as much anymore because it took a while before I pulled my first one out, which was a big 10'' brook trout. (Trust me, that's big for a brook trout.) But, I noticed there were some bigger ones still around and these guys liked to chase after the bait while I was reeling back to re-cast my line. So I teased them a little by sporadically jerking my pole (hehe...) to wiggle my worm around. (hehehehe....) Sure enough one of them caught the bait and the battle started. I can't remember the last time I had to reel in a fish that fought back so vigorously. My father and brother in law kept losing theirs because of how much they fought back and wiggled themselves off the hook. As I was reeling and pulling the fish would fight to try and pull himself free by swimming away and jumping out of the water. I swear this was an epic battle between man and trout. I managed to catch two of these strong bastards before the quota for the group had been reached. They turned out to be fabulous rainbow trouts.

Not so tough now, huh?!

You got a meeting with my dinner plate and a side of rice!

Finally, our quota had been reached and it was time for us to leave. We were all happy with our catch and were all looking forward to an amazing dinner the next day. Talk about fun for the whole family!

The sis.

My dear old dad.

And do I look like a fucking champ or what?
By the way, mine was definitely the biggest.

Before leaving the site we gutted out or fish and packed them in a cooler for the trip home. Suddenly, we heard a peculiar cry in the sky not too far from us. What else did we see but the most amazing looking bird we could ever see that day: an American bald eagle! That was the cherry on the sundae. He was being chased around by a couple of hawks. He must have flown too close to their nest. What a sight!




Before leaving the club's land, my grandpa had to inspect one of his many hunting platforms deep in the woods to make sure it's still standing strong for the upcoming hunting season. On our way there, my father showed us this flower called Bunchberry that transform into small little edible fruits that taste kind of like apples. 

Those are called bunch berries.
They eventually turn into a bunch of little fruits that you can eat!


The brotherman discovered a little pre-dinner snack: wild strawberries! If you never had wild strawberries, then you don't know what a kiss from an angel tastes like. They have got to be the tastiest most sweetest strawberries out there. As a kid, I used to take plastic containers and run off in the woods around our cabin and fill the containers to the brim with those wild strawberries and blueberries too. Then at the end of the day we'd have them for dessert after dinner. Though it was not the season yet, we were pleasantly surprised to find a little batch. Talk about luck!

You gotta have a good eye to spot them.

That's about as big as they can get.

My reaction when we found them.

My little cousin and I pretended we were George Brassard and caught ourselves a couple of bugs. By the way, George Brassard is the founder of the Montreal Insectarium. He opened many museums dedicated to insects all over the world. There was even a movie about him and his quest to help a young boy with cancer to find a rare blue butterfly.

You have much to learn, young grasshopper.

The little cousin managed to catch this yellow monarch, which were all over the place.

Finally, we ended our fishing day at a local small diner chowing down on some well deserved tasty home made poutine before heading back to the big city.

Poutine Galvaude, it's a hot-chicken poutine!

Poutine Michigan, topped with smoked meat and bolognese sauce! Mmmmm!

Sunday night we took out our catch and we cooked them on the barbecue en papillotte, stuffed with some salt, lemon slices, red onions and flat leaf parsley, with a side dish of mixed wild rice and stuffed mushrooms and a nice glass of ice cold white wine. It was a beautiful evening and we ate our dinner outside on the patio table in the backyard at my parent's place. This was truly an amazing weekend.

Dinner.

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