by Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
Being a member of a Moose Lodge is something everyone should be a part of. The things they do locally for the community and on a national level would make your head spin. Lower Niagara Moose Lodge No. 584 on Water Street in Lewiston is one of those. I could get more into that, but right now I want to tell you about a fishing story that friends Jan and Ken Ashley reminisced over from a previous fishing trip in Canada.
When my wife and I walked in the Moose Lodge, we took a seat at the far L-shaped corner of the spacious bar near the window. That's my favorite seat when I can get it. On the other corner was Ken and an empty seat next to him, with a glass of pop or something like that on the bar. Just as we got served, Ken's wife Jan came and sat where the empty seat and beverage was.
Somehow the four of us got to talking about fishing. Ken said he bought a 14-foot fishing boat all equipped, and took it up to his cabin on Lake Muskoka in Ontario.
"I don't know why he bought it, we already have a boat up there," said Jan.
"Yeah, but not a 'fishing' boat," responded Ken.
See, there is a difference between a fishing boat and the pleasure boat they already have. You fish from the little one, and sleep and party on the big one.
Then came the story of how they came across the fishing boat. Ken said he bought it from fellow Moose member Dan Nassioy. When Ken told me what kind of money Dan sold the boat, motor, and trailer to him for, I had to hang on to the rail to keep from falling off my chair. "No, I'm not going to tell you how much."
I didn't ask, and he didn't tell me, but I suspect the deal was made while having a couple Molson Canadians and the two Moose members shook hands and the deal was sealed. That's the way Moose folks do it, even in today's world. Oh, the purchase included the boat accessories and that included an electronic fish finder, an essential item for any fisherman.
After taking some razzing from his wife about buying a "fishing" boat, I started to hear a story about the first fishing voyage on Muskoka Lake. Ken said, "Mark, don't repeat this or don't even think of putting it in the Sentinel." Laughing, he said, "No, I'm not going to tell you."
After some coaxing he continued, "I have to tell you about our first time out with that boat," all the while laughing.
Jan chimed in and told us, "Here is a guy with a fishing boat and he doesn't even know how to fish."
Ken piped up and said, "I do so; I used to fish when I was a kid. I caught fish before." We all laughed at that statement because in our figuring, it must have been around 50 years ago.
This "experienced fisherman" then proceeded to tell us about his first and only fish of that trip. What follows is what he didn't want me to tell everybody, especially in the Sentinel because all Moose members read the Sentinel. It starts here.
Ken and Jan started out trolling with Ken watching intently to see if any fish showed up on that fish finder. Jan said he kept weaving left and right. "And I'm up near the front of the boat and him steering," she said. "He couldn't keep the boat in a straight line, weaving from left to right."
All the time she had to keep changing positions with her rod in the air so it wouldn't tangle around Ken's head or the prop in the back.
This is where the story gets good. Ken found an underwater rock on the fish finder - a structure of some kind - and he was told that in order to catch fish you need to find an underwater structure. Well this structure must have been pretty big, so around and around in circles he steered the boat around that structure, then Jan could keep her line on just one side of the boat. Then bingo! Ken latched on to a fish, a bass.
Things must have been flashing through his head like, "Wow, here's my first fish in 50 years, I'll show that Jan how it's done." Well, Jan went on to explain the antics. She said he got the fish in the boat, took it off the hook, and proceeded to put the fish in the metal fish basket to hang it over the side in the water to keep the fish alive in anticipation of catching more. The baskets have a door on the bottom with a spring so when you want to remove the fish cleaning and such, you flip the door and take them out. Ken thought he had put the fish in the basket, then zing! He got a pain in his lower leg, looked down, and here was his fishhook imbedded in his lower leg, with the line still attached. When he went to grab his rod, he discovered it went overboard in all the excitement, and it was pulling on that hook in his leg. After grabbing the rod out of the water, and removing the hook, things settled down.
Then he picked up his fish basket to put it over the side of the boat but the fish was gone. Puzzled, he looked around. His wife up front saw it, and told him to "look on the floor down near your feet, it's there." By golly, there it was flopping around trying to be noticed.
"Naw, I ain't keeping you, I already put you through too much trouble," said Ken to his catch. He then released the fish back into the water. A sporting thing to do, always talk to your fish.
This story was spawned a couple of days before this past Fourth of July weekend. Ken and Jan were on their way back to their Muskoka Lake cabin for a long weekend, and plan on doing some serious fishing this time, I suppose. I'll let you know how they made out if Ken is still talking to me.
Stinging nettle follow-up
Last week I wrote about the stinging nettle plant, and its stinging power. The next day I received an email from Debora Lehman, who lives in the Village of Lewiston. I found her email to be very informative and interesting. I would like to share it with you:
"I was reading your article on stinging nettles. I'm from England and they grow rampant there and as kids we were always in the woods playing. My nan would depart with 'natural' remedies for our problems. Where stinging nettles grow, dock leaves usually grow also. These are a large green leaf plant, resembling a small elephant ear plant. You would take a leave, snap or tear it, and then rub the affected spot with the juice coming from the leaf.
"As nan would say, 'Mother Nature is a wonderful woman, she provides the answers to those annoying little pests.' We did not have Benadryl while growing up; the closest we had to medicine in mum's house was Calamine lotion and Aspirin, that's it! So we used what everyone now refers to as 'homeopathic' medicine. We grew up just fine without filling our bodies with 'toxic' chemicals (per nan).
"Mother Nature is a wonderful 'woman,' she cares about her 'kids' it is a shame that many of us ignore her.
"Just thought I would drop that little nugget in your lap. Next time you see nettles, look for the dock leaves."
Pictured is a nettle wound being treated with a dock leaf.
Again, I want to thank the people that read my stories in the Sentinel. I like doing them, and I feel proud to have a very small part in our Western New York community. Remember, take a kid fishing and I wish more of you would take an elderly also. Look at the fun Ken had after 50 years. (Just joking, he's far from elderly.)