A Most Curious Catch

Harold Written by 

(11 votes)
The Original "Cameron Bay" Jig and Swivel The Original "Cameron Bay" Jig and Swivel

This particular fish story took place during my second visit to Great Bear in 1979.

We fished out of Branson’s Lodge in those days, which was located in Cameron Bay on the McTavish Arm.

The routine on our day of arrival was that after landing at the Port Radium strip, we were ferried over to the lodge by floatplane, enjoyed a sumptuous buffet lunch, received a briefing from owner Ernie Dolinsky, and then fished locally until dinner.

After lunch our guide suggested trying “Windsock Island,” which was about a quarter of a mile off shore right out in front of the lodge. My buddy George hit a fish in pretty short order, so I reeled in to give him some room to play his fish – hey you never know, it could have been a trophy – and as I pulled my lure out of the water, I noticed that one of my hooks had a piece of fishing line draped over it. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time being otherwise occupied watching George land a ten pounder.

Our guide, being the environmentally conscious sort, plucked the line off my treble and began winding it up so he could dispose of it back at the lodge. As he was winding it around his hand he suddenly lurched forward as if something had given his arm a yank. Both George and I thought that he was just playing around, but before either of us could tell him to knock it off he lurched forward again and yelled,

“Christ, there’s a fish on the end of the line!”

One look at his face and we knew he wasn’t kidding, so I asked him what he proposed to do about it. He suggested that we splice the mystery line onto mine, so he cut off my lure and quickly knotted the two lines together.

Once I had taken up the slack, sure enough there was a fish on the other end. It was obviously very light line so I would have to play this fish gently if I wanted a realistic shot at landing it, so I backed off my drag and gingerly began to pump the fish in.

The water in Great Bear is generally crystal clear, and after about fifteen minutes had gone by we saw the fish casually swim by the boat with what looked like a small white jig in it’s mouth. We took a collective gulp, because in our guide’s estimation this fish was at least twenty pounds, and if he was right, it would be the biggest fish I had ever caught – IF I managed to land it that is.

We fought that fish for well over an hour, drifting completely across the bay in the process. Because all three of us were standing for some time and obviously playing a fish, a number of boats sidled up to see what all the commotion was about. Some got bored and moved on after a few minutes, but several stayed with us the entire time.

Each time I would get the fish close to the boat, it would pause for a moment and then swim away at a leisurely pace, stripping several yards of line off the reel in the process, because by now I had the drag completely off, and was using my thumb to apply some gentle pressure on the spool.

Well, I finally managed to swim the fish into the net, and it weighed in at an impressive twenty-two pounds. There was in fact a small white bucktail jig in fish’s mouth that was attached to a tiny swivel – which just happened to be bent wide open! I guess some fish were just born to be caught.

When we got back to the lodge we were met at the dock by several of the guys who had watched us being towed around the bay for a good part of the afternoon. As I was telling the story, when I got to the part about what the fish had dangling out of it’s mouth, one of the group stepped forward, who, as it turned out happened to be the lodge motor mechanic, and said,

“You may not believe this, but I was fishing off Windsock last night using a small bucktail jig and swivel on four pound test line and lost a pretty big fish. So assuming that it was my fish you caught, I guess I’m entitled to an assist!”

It was hard to argue with his logic, so he was awarded an assist on the official score sheet, and for that matter so was my guide in recognition of his line splicing skills.

By the way, I kept the jig and swivel as a reminder of what is likely one of the better fish stories to ever come out of Cameron Bay.

Last modified onMonday, 09 November 2015 05:37
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