Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Out in the Country

There is undeniable truth to the saying "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy." The same sentiment holds true for city girls.

I was born and have lived in urban surroundings almost all of my life, and though I absolutely love to leave the cityscape behind me to venture into more natural surroundings, I prefer knowing that I'll be reasonably comfortable, warm and dry. I enjoy camping, but these days, given the choice, I'd rather have the comfort of a cabin. Boats? A lot of fun as long as the motor is in working condition. And fishing sounds like a good idea if I don't have to hook my own worms.

So when I had the opportunity to stay up at a cottage for a sunny, record-warm September weekend, it was a no-brainer. I'd be warm and dry, the boat there was almost brand-new, and I'd never been asked to even touch a worm, much less hook one. Country life, here I come!

We arrived late in the afternoon. The lake greeted us with the reds, oranges and yellows of the foliage that it mirrored - considerably advanced compared to the moderate changes back home. The late-day sun reflected off of the water and into our eyes as it lapped gently at the dock, enticing us to take a quick tour of the lake. I expected the true autumn air to hitch a ride with us, but even the steady wind out on the boat felt warm and wonderful.

Over the course of the next few days, we greeted sunrises, hiked a bit, explored a nearby town, ate dinner on the dock and lit evening fires. We even played some Pitch'n'Putt one day, which I approached as I do any other sport - with the agility of a hippo on crack.

And we fished.

Armed with rods and bait, life jackets, bug spray, sunglasses and a few munchies, we headed out to some of the hot fishing spots, which kept our reels humming. My first catch was modest. Scarcely the size of my hand, it was a breeze to reel in. A small piece of driftwood.

My second attempt brought in something larger - at least twice the size of the first. Alas, it was another piece of driftwood, but this one put up a bit of a struggle.

Determined to try again, I plopped my line into the water
and waited till I felt the now-familiar tug. I set the hook. This one felt huge! I reeled and yanked and looked to my left for help. To my great relief, more experienced hands took over the rod and I watched as my catch of the day was landed. A beautiful 8-pounder! Yes, another piece of driftwood.

Eventually the lake gods took pity on me and allowed me to catch a few real fish. We were looking for walleye, but it seems that the sunfish were looking for us, since that's all I caught - over and over again. I was beginning to believe that I was nabbing the same little guy every time. I wouldn't have known one from the other because I never really got all that up close and personal with them. As I said before, I wasn't unhooking them. That's when the foot came down.

"I think it's time you started unhooking your own fish now."

"Are you serious? Now? You want me to touch the fish?"

I was shown how to grasp the fish in such a way that its spiky fin wouldn't jab me (in theory) and how to manoeuvre the hook out of its mouth. With nimble fingers (remember that hippo on crack?), I managed to remove the sharp weapon from its mouth, and tossed the wriggly critter back into the lake. After a few imperceptible shudders (which scarcely rocked the boat), I rinsed my hands in lake water and attempted another cast into the population of hungry miniature fish. Unfortunately, that last one successfully ate the worm. That's when the other foot came down.

"How about a double-header? I think it's time you learned how to bait your own hook."

"Oh, come on now! You've got to be kidding me"

This time I began to shudder before I even touched the worm - or half-worm as it was. I watched a demonstration of a worm body-piercing, and I was on my own. I wasn't prepared for the strength of its tiny body, or for its determination to ease its way out from my tentative grip. Somewhere between a chorus of ewws, ughs and pathetic whimpers, I managed to jab it once, and loop the rest of its body around for a secure, second impalement. After a longer rinse in the lake, I was ready for the next peckish sunfish, which promptly ate the worm.

Despite the unpleasant tasks of baiting and unhooking, that afternoon stands out to me as one of the highlights of the weekend. We never did catch any walleye, but being out there basking in the sun and fresh air, enjoying great company, savouring the beautiful scenery, overcoming much of my apprehension and catching the best damned piece of driftwood of my life made it a wonderfully, memorable afternoon - and weekend.

Now, there's a little bit of country that you'd be hard-pressed to take out of this girl.

Enjoy the photos. There will be more in a few days.

The brilliant shades of autumn greet the morning shortly after sunrise.

Early morning, a neighbour's iron angler watches attentively while waiting for the the big bite.

I didn't catch this pike, so I didn't have to unhook him, which is good because he looks intimidating to me.

Of lesser concern, this sunfish was one of the first of many to be caught that day.

Just outside the cottage back door, this lure tree sits collecting colourful lures, hooks and other lost fishing-related items reeled in by chance.

After a bit of exploring at a nearby bay, we brought back this fish-shaped piece of driftwood and decided that it would be the new lure tree. It now adorns the side of the cottage.

Just a boat, a bumper and a rope, but I liked the way it looked.

Fishing off of the dock in the late afternoon was a pretty typical activity while watching the sunset come to life.

And sometimes all you need is that sunset.

I'll be posting some more photos in a few days. In the meantime you can find some great cottage-life photos over at Frank's blog.


Frank Baron said...

For a rank beginner, you did...not exactly "well" think about it a bit and get back to you.


Great pics! :)

Tink said...

BEAUTIFUL photos. I especially love the one of the fisherman (woman?) sitting at the water's edge. The reflection of the leaves in the water is perfect. Have you considered entering the Smithsonian contest? If you don't know what I'm talking about, email me:

I'm a city girl too. So the idea of actually taking my own fish off the line makes me shudder. I've gotten to the point where I can bait my own hook though! Unfortunately, the worm almost never stays on. So I moved on to raw bacon. Less messy and the fish LOVE it.

Hilary said...

Well thanks Frank,

You've had some time to think about it now.. do I even want to know?

Hey Tink,

Thanks so much for your kind words. I've never considered entering my photos anywhere but here, on the blog. I really don't know what I'm doing yet but I have occasional luck, a decent camera and a large memory card on my side. That produces a decent photo every so often.

Now I could easily handle putting bacon on the hook. Last time I checked, bacon doesn't squirm.

Anonymous said...

Hiya kiddo :)

Well, Well, Well!!!! I'm so pleased to see that you finally got past the city limit signs and enjoyed a bit of nature and creation. We're gonna have to pool our pennies and loonies and get you and Frank down here to West Texas so I can take you sight seeing and fishing on the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers and Lake Amistad. Not too many beautiful trees, but plenty of rugged canyon walls, wildlife, and desert type vegetation that have their own beauty.
I agree with Tink .. you seem to have that "ability" with a camera that many of us can only dream about .. :)
Hmmmm .. bacon might not squirm, but it sure does squeal quite loudly when ya stick a hook in it!!
Hugglezzzzzzz ..... Gary :)

Hilary said...


Hiya Gary, I'm glad you stopped by for a visit. A trip to Texas sounds so lovely one day, but alas.. at this time I have far more pennies than loonies (and no, I don't mean Frank). But if you and Edie keep that invitation open, one day you just might find yourself showing your beautiful part of the world to a couple of Canucks, eh?

Thanks also for the kind words about the photos.

And I think you might be having your bacon a bit too rare...

Anonymous said...

Thought I'd zip over and check out your blog after you got me in trouble with Crabby (I thought YOU were going to clean up those crumbs...)
Love your photos, except that out here in the country, I have dial-up, so it takes forever for them to load...
If you have time, I did my very first ever guest post on Leah's blog (the goat's lunch pail), and I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it.
I'll stop in again sometime to check out the rest of your photos!

Hilary said...


Thanks for dropping by for a visit. Great guest post on your cousin Leah's blog.

Your comments on Crabby's blog always make me laugh and I think you should start a blog of your own so we can leave crumbs on your comment page too!

Anonymous said...

This spring my bride and I revisted our Honeymoon spot, Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. We spent a day at the racetrack, her desire, and a day in a McKenzie float boat with guide on the Potomac River, my desire. Enroute we bought her a fishing license, her first ever. The guide baited a hook and cast it for her, handing her the rod with basic instruction. She caught a rock. Not the fish. The bottom of the river. She watched us for the rest of the fishing day. She tells me that I am the only reason any of our sons ever had a baited hook. ER nursing she'll do, but not impalements.

Thank you for the pictures.

Hilary said...

Hi Wingwriter,

Glad to know I'm not the only one who will shy away from a measly worm. Perhaps the photos from West Virginia are still to be discovered in an undeveloped roll of film? Check your pockets!

Leah J. Utas said...

I always liked fishing, but I never had to use worms.

Thanks for linking to my blog.

Hilary said...

Hi Leah,

I think I'd prefer that way of fishing too. Thanks for stopping by.

Frank Baron said...

I'm still thinking. Don't rush me....

awannabe said...

I kept looking at those first pics while reading the story, and thinking what I was looking at was supposed to be a fish. I was relieved when you said it was driftwood.

I think I'd favor unhooking a fish rather than hooking a worm. I don't know why one seems grosser than the other, but fortunately I've had to do neither.

Those are awesome pictures on the bottom of the post too. In spite of the worms and small sunfish, I hope it was fun.

Hilary said...




I agree with the unhooking vs. hooking. One is like a rescue and the other is like a stabbing. But the worms wriggled a bit less.

Thanks for your kind words.. it was indeed a lot of fun.