Monday mornings are less to be anticipated on most days, but June 4 was an exception.
I was wide awake preparing for the day ahead: bottle of water? Check. Layered clothing? Check. Fishing rod? Check. Tackle? Check.
I was headed out for a day of fishing on Nipawin’s Tobin Lake as part of media preparations for the 43rd Annual Nipawin Great Northern Pike Festival. With a smile across my face and butterflies in my stomach, I was anxious to begin my first (real) fishing adventure.
My fishing friend Dustin and I were paired up with our guide for the day, Barry Ruiter, owner of Twin Marine Guided Tours and the Motor Inn & RV Park.
The man, towering about a foot-and-a-half above me, smiled, introduced himself and revealed a hint of anticipation for the day ahead.
We loaded into Barry’s truck and headed toward a local launch.
After the guys unhooked the trailer and unloaded the boat, we jumped aboard and propelled down the river.
With waves lapping against the boat, the sun shining overhead and a warm breeze skimming across the water, Tobin Lake offered serenity and set the perfect atmosphere for a day of great fishing.
The waves crashed along the side of the boat as we sped toward the mouth of Tobin Lake. After a few kilometres we came to a troll, dropping anchor on a shallow bay lined with cat tails and grasses—a perfect hunting ground for pike, Barry assured us.
He handed each of us a rod, sat back and gave us the freedom to cast and reel as we wished. Unfortunately I had no idea what I was doing. Did I reel with my right hand or my left hand? Was I using too much line or too little line? Did I fish standing up or sitting down?
Thankfully, Barry took note of my novice skills and gave me a quick lesson. With a slightly improved ‘technique’, I held the rod, cast out, and dropped the line in the water. I reeled quickly, hoping to catch the attention of a passing pike with my shinny blue spoon.
It didn’t take long before I had a bite. Of course, I didn’t know it was a real fish at first. I assumed it was just another weed fish that caught the line, but nope, it was the real thing this time.
“I think you got one!” Barry exclaimed. “Yeah you do…oh it’s a nice one too.”
Myself, not knowing what to do, passed the rod to Barry who then shuffled around the boat as the fish fought its way under the boat, around the starboard and back to the stern.
Barry had more confidence in me than I had in myself when he handed the rod back so I could reel in my fish. As Barry reached over and steadied the rubber net, excitement got the best of me and I (apparently) pulled up too quickly allowing my first capture to escape.
It seems fishing requires patience, before and after you catch the fish.
After the excitement and quick disappointment of the one that got away, others began biting.
“You’re going to be hooked,” Barry said as he watched my line gain tension.
With a little patience and some more coaching, I caught five fish before noon. I was ecstatic. I told my co-workers before the trip, I’d be happy to catch just one—I was in my glory.
Maybe it was beginner’s luck as Dustin suggested, but I’d like to think it was natural ability.
Regardless of what helped me out-fish my competitive partner, I have to admit it’s nearly impossible to drop a line into the waters of Nipawin and not get a bite.
Tobin Lake offers fishing for all levels of experience from the novice fishermen who get a thrill from catching the ‘small’ pike at 3.8 pounds to the experienced anglers who reel in the big ones weighing 15 to 20 pounds.
Floating along the edges of cat tails or creeping along the shores of fallen tress and shallow waters, Tobin Lake offers some of the best and most diverse fishing that Saskatchewan has to offer.
Barry was right. Tobin Lake got me—hook, line and sinker.
This year’s Annual Nipawin Great Northern Pike Festival begins on June 17 and extends to Sept. 30, attracting thousands of visitors from across North America.
In 2012, there will be over $132,000 worth of tagged fish in Tobin and Codette Lakes with prizes ranging from $100 to a $25,000 grand prize package.
For more information visit nipawin.com/fishing-pikefestival.html.