It was a clear sunny day without wind, the kind of day when the water acts like a mirror. You can see the world reflected in the water. You can see for miles and, with the heat, the distant islands seem to be floating in the simmering air.
Voices from the shore, where they are preparing to take us out, reach out and grab me. I smile at my mother and she smiles back. I’m one of the few and fortunate, it seems. My father couldn’t make this trip so mom brought me along.
We flew into Loius Joiliette from Mistissini the day before by Beaver, a standard type of bush plane for this area. It was quite an experience to see the southern part of Mistassini lake from the air.
I always knew my land was beautiful and special, but never had I seen so much of it at once.
It was almost a sensory overload as Mistissini was left behind, and with it all the trappings that “modern civilization” calls progress. There is a certain pride that you feel in knowing that here is what our ancestors knew and saved for us. No great monuments save the greatest one of all, the land itself untouched by our presence.
My mother had won a weekend at Louis Joliette after she bought a raffle ticket at some function. Louis Joliette is one of the fishing camps the Mistissini band runs complete with “native” guides, cabins, etc.
When I first knew I was going to fish the Rupert’s River, I made plans to keep a very good eye on the routes that our guide, Stanley Mianscum, would be taking. My uncle said Stanley’s father was one of the best and was probably booked for the next three years running by satisfied guests who would be returning to this camp. I would be getting a chance to see if his son measured up.
Though I kept an eye on where we were going, Stanley knew I might be back in the area. He did more zigs and zags than were necessary. Well, some of them were needed because of the rocks, but damned if I knew which ones. By the way, I didn’t, so my soul is still safe for the moment.
Stanley was impressive when he would flip the boat around to allow us to fish the tops of the rapids. He controlled the outboard motor’s speed to keep the boat in place. As I began casting, Stanley smiled, reached down and picked up his fishing rod. He now started casting into selected spots while controlling the motor’s direction with his knees.
Mom caught the first fish of the day winning that standard fishermen’s bet. I think everyone out in the far country bets on fishing successes even though it is illegal to gamble. Rumour has it even the Prime Minister has bet a couple of times on his casting abilities.
Another special moment of the trip was when a large speckled trout was rising out from behind the shadows of a large rock. I could see dearly and I carefully placed my hook in the right area. I began to draw him in feeling that tingle of adrenalin and excitement that everyone feels anticipating the strike. That was when Stanley showed me the superiority of a well-placed fly. That trout left my lure and showed his preference for the fly-fishing method. That day, Stanley made me shore lunch that had my mouth watering 15 seconds after the speckle hit the frying pan.
I still plan to get even with Stanley even after all these years. But first I’m going to get me a flyrod and learn how to use that contraption. Then I’ll zigzag the Rupert’s once again looking for my old friendly guide and his secret spots.
If you are interested in fishing the Rupert’s River or Mistassini Lake, the best place to call is Mistassini Lake Outfitting Camps at 1-418-923-3361.