Monday, July 28, 2014

The Story of North Cape Cod

Sometimes you only catch a fish when you aren't expecting to. Or while you're trying to catch a seal.

"Bye, honey, I'm going kayaking!" I said to my husband while he lay on the couch, playing computer games on his laptop.

"Are you going to fish from your kayak?" my husband asked, looking at the fishing rod I held in my hand.

"Nah," I said, "I figure we'll pull our kayaks up on some beach for a rest and I'll cast a few lines there."

"Are you going to bring your tackle?" he asked me.

"I won't need anything," I said, "We won't catch anything. I never do."

"Well, there's a first time for everything," my husband said, as it turned out, ominously.

I met up with my friends on the shore and we set out on the Arctic ocean in our kayaks and canoe. There was no wind that night, so the water was still; you could see all the way to the bottom in some parts, and our kayaks held the illusion of sliding over glass. I marvelled at how smooth the waters were, at how they came alive and pulsed in response to the motor boats that passed occasionally again, and then became still once more.

Now that the ocean ice had all melted away in the bay, we were able to bring our kayaks out farther towards West Arm. We stopped at one of my favourite beach spots. I used to call it Lonely Beach, but have been thinking lately that I should start giving these beaches better names. But what? Garbage Beach? Shale Beach? I waited for an idea to come.

I cast my reel into the water and waited for something to bite. I was testing out a new theory. I had heard that someone in town had caught some char in West Arm, although I didn't know why the fish would be hanging around a dead end.  I thought maybe this new beach might be a good fishing spot, because while the immediate shoreline allowed for you to wade in the water knee deep, there was a sudden drop off in the ocean floor where it suddenly fell away some two hundred metres.  The idea of accidentally slipping off that ocean ledge terrified me, but I thought maybe that would be a good place for fish to hang out, on their way to going to West Arm, for whatever reason they'd be going there.

I cast my line a couple of times but had no luck.  One time I dislodged a rock with my hook. Another time I pulled out some seaweed. I guess that was food - Koreans love mi yuk gook - but not exactly the dinner catch I had been hoping for these past days.  I put down my rod and gave up.

Instead, I started paying attention to some action that was happening some hundred feet away in the water.  There was something moving around in the water and breaching the surface occasionally, but I couldn't see what it was.

"Is it a whale/" I said.

"Maybe a seal?" B suggested.

"I want to catch it!" my friend Christine said, and grabbed my fishing rod.

I was starting to explain to her that we probably can't catch a seal with a fishing rod - that it would probably pull her into the water over the dreaded ledge - and that on the other hand, there was plenty of driftwood lying around that we could possibly use as a club...but then the line started to tug and Christine started to shriek.


In her excitement, Christine threw the rod down on the shore and started dancing. "I caught a fish! I caught a fish!"

B was pretty quick thinking and swooped down to grab the fish and detach it from the hook before it could swim back into the ocean, while Christine danced.  He offered the cod to Christine but she declined, as it was still squirming around.

"I don't want to touch it," she protested. "I caught a fish! I caught a fish!"

still too grossed out to actually hold it

Then we were faced with the fact that we weren't actually equipped to bring a fish home.   I had assumed that we weren't going to catch anything, remember?   I had....a life jacket.  I had...a wet bag. I had....the inside of my kayak, but there was no way we were going to be kayaking home with a flopping around under my skirt between my legs.

Eventually we remembered the storage compartment in our kayak and kept it there.  But in Christine's kayak, because, as I pointed out, "She caught it! It's her problem."

We had a relaxing paddling trip back to the main shore, where I quietly reflected on the darkening clouds in the sky and hoped that the fish that lay inside the kayak was, indeed, dead.  Off in the distance, some kids fishing off the dock by the Martin Bergmann also caught a cod fish, but it was much smaller than Christine's.

Once we returned to our base on the shore, we were faced with the dilemma of how we were going to bring the fish home.

"I have a plastic bag in the sea can," I suggested helpfully, not mentioning the part that it currently held my underwear.

But when I checked the sea can, I realized that I had not brought the plastic bag, which means I also had not brought any spare underwear. Man, was I ever unprepared for this trip.

We tried putting it in a box that used to hold cans of soda pop, but it got soggy quickly.

Eventually we "borrowed" a plastic box that belonged to one of the teachers that were away for the summer.  It worked well and Christine was able to bring her cod fish home, the very first fish she had ever caught. Also, I finally came up with a good name for the beach we had found: North Cape Cod.

trying to add it to Google Maps...

an expert teaches us how to filet a char using a traditional ulu knife