I have now been fishing at a place west of Armstrong Ontario since I was sixteen. I first came up here with my dad, his brother his father, his cousin and my dad’s best friend. Two of these people have now passed away, but it is good to remember these people and the events that they were part of. I’ve had a lot of experiences up here at Smoothrock Lake, some good, some pretty embarrassing.
Once I fell in a lake trying to step on a rock out of a boat. I’ve caught fishermen in other boats with a bait, luckily only his shirt was hooked. I’ve caught huge fish, small fish, and lots of fish. We’ve blown an engine and become stranded. We’ve flown with a drunken pilot in substandard aircraft. Over the years, I’ve broken almost everything imaginable. We’ve experienced bad weather, huge waves, clouds of mosquitoes, and searched for missing fellow fishermen only to learn that they weren’t missing.
I have also seen wolves, caribou, bear, and assorted birds and smaller wildlife but I have never seen a moose…at least not a live one as I came up here hunting moose once and had to drag someone else’s dead one out of the mud. Today I cannot say that any longer as on the side of one of our pike bays, a majestic bull sat and watched us for fifteen minutes before he sauntered off into the trees. Seeing the moose sort of made the whole fishing trip, now one of a moose story as all the fishing stories seemed lame by comparison.
I have only ever seen one other adult bull moose in the wild and that one was swimming across a lake in extreme northern Manitoba and I saw him with my wife. I wish I could have shared this viewing with her as well. Just yesterday I was saying to my boat partner that we have never seen a moose and we comment that that spot looks like a good spot to see a moose and so is that one.
I am a goal oriented fisherman. However, most of my fishing goals have been made. I will never EVER catch a larger northern than I’ve caught before (48 inch 31 Lb pike caught October 4, 1997 on this lake). I doubt I’ll catch a bigger walleye, either. I have also saw a monster northern in Sweden that made the one I caught look like a minnow by comparison. That fish truly scared me and part of me was glad I never caught it. I’ve also caught one hundred walleyes in a day both here and on another lake. Now in terms of fishing I have few unattained goals. Now seeing a moose here is also just a memory and an another accomplished goal.
Maybe that is the problem of being in midlife and what they call midlife crises. Either you realize your goals are obtained or everything that you want to get done has been done and so now you find yourself a person without a purpose. I now find myself feeling a little listless and melancholy about this, thinking about it as the next moose if there is one will never be as close or as big as today’s. It was one of the few things I had left to do here in thirty years.
I have never felt so old as I do for some reason today. Maybe it is because of having done everything that I set out to do, maybe it is that I miss my family, or maybe it is just the season. It is not worth that much introspection. This IS just a fishing trip. Tomorrow, I’ll head out fishing at seven in the morning, just as I have done countless mornings before. Maybe I’ll see a moose, maybe I’ll catch a twenty pound pike, maybe I’ll do neither. I just hope whatever I do matters, both to me and in the wider sense.
Maybe that is the problem of midlife. That bull moose matters. He matters to the propagation of the species and the cow or cows he will mate with. In middle age, as people, we have raised or almost raised our families, our careers are set, and we start to feel old and tired. We start to feel we don’t matter and it is easy to feel trapped. I guess, I don’t have it so bad. I haven’t seen an owl up here yet, so maybe that should be my next goal. I need something to get myself in the boat. Maybe I need antidepressants, or maybe I just need a beer, ok, make that two beers.
I’ll enjoy the moose for what he is, one damn nice handsome animal and worry about tomorrow if tomorrow comes. One needs to be careful not to take one’s life too seriously and remember, I enjoy fishing and this is vacation. I’ll try that approach tomorrow.
Sigh. There is nothing worse than the fishing blues, my friends, nothing worse.