A Fish Story written by Gloria Sewell
Jeff and Lana Joy Wierdsma have always loved the great outdoors and together they spent time canoeing the waters of many parks across Ontario. Anyone who knew Jeff well was aware that he loved to fish, his line was in the water “trolling” as they paddled along. Picture him in that big black cowboy hat, a smile as wide as life, looking a little bit like the lone ranger! We have a special memory of Jeff when he came with Lana Joy to Red Pine Lake in the Haliburton Highlands to visit and have dinner at our humble cottage, that is accessible only by boat.
Bruce & I are not fishermen, although we love a good a feed of fresh fish! Bruce always jokes with people that his idea of fishing is a trip to the Red Lobster. However, we have a Golden Retriever who shares Jeff’s passion for fishing. As soon as she gets let out of the cottage in the morning she heads straight for the lake through the morning mist. Gelert will spend as much as 4 or 5 hours standing in the water patiently watching the little rock bass in the shallow waters at the shore line. They taunt her, watching with their beady red eyes, opening and closing their mouths as if mocking her, swimming right up to her feet without fear. Gelert whines, wags her tail; pursues the fish relentlessly hour after hour, stalking, then swimming after them. She never tires of this game all summer long, year after year she goes back into the water to fish with out success.
Gelert looked up from her fishing one beautiful summer afternoon, there in the distance was Jeff & Lana Joy Wierdsma paddling into the bay. If you listen closely you can hear music, like in a movie when the hero enters the scene. Jeff got his long legs out of the canoe on to the dock and his fishing line was in the water within minutes. The rock bass love to hide on hot summer days among a few big old logs at the end of our dock. It wasn’t long before Jeff pulled out his first rock bass! “Gelert” was ecstatic and watched the fish wiggle in Jeff’s big hand as he pried the hook from the slippery fellow. A few moments later back into the water it was released, much to “Gelert’s” disappointment. Well this went on for several hours during the day, Jeff pulling them out one after the other, the dog wagging her tail joyfully by his side admiring his every move. It was as if she perceived Jeff as some sort of fish “God” looking at him in awe wondering how he accomplished this marvel so effortlessly.
Our afternoon ended all too soon, the sun slid lower in the sky cooling the air with the scent of sweet pine. We started to think about dinner and began gathering up the empty glasses and bottles, heading up to the cottage. Jeff dropped his line into the lake one last time snagging it into one of those old logs at the end of the dock. Unfortunately the line broke when Jeff tried to free it from the log and he lost his lure. I didn’t realize that losing a lure is a traumatic event for fishermen, a type of fishing emergency! Jeff considered going after it but it was late in the day getting pretty cool by now. Jeff’s appetite for dinner may have also been a factor in his decision to leave the lure. He mentioned his sorrow several times that evening but managed to console him self in the enjoyment of dinner and a cold beer. I learned from Lana Joy that he talked about coming back for that lure many times.
Jeff was the kind of guy who had a “big” presence. When he walked into a room or out on to a dock, his infections smile and booming laughter filled the space around him; endearing him to others, (pause) but fish feared him!
In memory of Jeff