The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tom Lavis

September 25, 2011

Tom Lavis | Just ducky fishing trip reeled in muskies

I have just returned from a weeklong Canadian fishing trip.

Canada has been a favorite destination for me and several of my cronies who relish escaping the trappings of everyday life.

Friends and relatives unfamiliar with our Canadian adventures have the impression that we are “roughing it” when we go to camp.

But my days of sleeping in a tent and cooking over an open fire are long gone.

After unpacking the gear and docking our boats, we decided to return to our cabin to grab a bite to eat before going fishing for the last two hours of remaining daylight.

Our lakeside cottage was a little primitive.

Boots, the second oldest member of our party, was disappointed to find that the television in the cabin got only one station.

“How are we going to watch the Steelers without cable?” he asked.

He had a point. There wasn’t even a remote control for the TV.

Things were looking bleak.

As Boots pushed the channel select button, he returned to the single channel he discovered earlier.

As we opened cans of tomato soup to go with our sandwiches, we were hit with culture shock.

Instead of Sunday football, we were forced to watch a rebroadcast of the Canadian Equestrian Championship from a western province.

I also discovered that there was only one electrical outlet in the kitchen. Luckily, Boots brought a power strip where we could plug in the toaster, microwave and coffee pot.

The strip worked well the first night, but once we started the routine of camp life, we soon learned that instead of beer, we should have packed more fuses.

Our group has been doing this trip long enough that we have our wives precook main dishes and all we had to do at camp was make some sides.

I want to give a pat on the back to the guy who invented instant mashed potatoes. He had to be a husband who couldn’t cook.

Instant mashed potatoes went great with pigs in the blanket, chicken, steak and meat loaf.

They were less tolerable with spaghetti and pizza.

My only concern about our trip was the sleeping arrangements.

There were two guys in each bedroom and we drew straws to see who would bunk with Skip.

Skip is a snoring machine. When he snores, the water glass next to his bed rattles.

Since we all know this, each of us packs earplugs in case we draw the short straw.

Before the alarm went off on our first morning in camp, I sat straight up in bed as the sound of gunfire came from outside my window.

It turns out that our first Monday in camp also was the opening of Canadian goose season.

Fishermen get up early, but goose hunters must have insomnia.

I have no idea about the laws of Canada, but from that point on, we were inundated with countless gun blasts at all hours of the day and night.

As we turned on the boats’ navigation lights to return to camp each evening, gunfire still could be heard around the lake.

One of our companions is not the outdoor type.

His only concern was where he could plug in his hair dryer after shampooing.

To protect his macho reputation, I will call him Rocky.

It was Rocky’s first trip and he prepared by watching episodes of “Dual Survival.”

It’s a reality show where two guys live off the land and excel at primitive skills.

One guy never wears shoes and he eats bugs and trees. The other, an Army-trained sniper and hunter, is smarter. He wears shoes and hunts alligators.

While we were not searching for alligators, we were pursuing muskellunge, a long-bodied fish with big teeth.

My idea of survival was putting on warm, wool socks and long underwear before climbing into my sleeping bag.

Cabin floors are cold in the morning.

Without the extra protection, my goose would have been cooked.

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