Fishing With "Red"

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"Red" at Lake "X" "Red" at Lake "X" David Bouck

I’m pleased to present our newest contributor to Great Bear Lake Outdoors - David Bouck.


David was a guide at Branson’s Lodge for two years in the early ‘80’s, and has a number of what we will be referring to as “The “D” Tales” to share with our readers.

The first of The “D” Tales is “Fishing With Red,” the “Red” in this case being none other than the legendary Bernard Herbert "Red" Fisher of Scuttlebutt Lodge fame.

Regardless of what those of you who remember him might of thought about “Red” and his show which by today’s standards would likely have be considered by many as being somewhat hokey, it was nevertheless ground breaking, and really the first of its kind.

The fact is his fans – I among them - enjoyed our weekly visit to “Scuttlebutt Lodge,” and secretly wished we were headed off to some exotic anglers paradise with “Red”, and when the show aired, would be presented with a book of his poems.

"D" Tale #1

Fishing With "Red"

For two seasons in the early ‘80s I was a guide at Branson’s Lodge, Cameron Bay, Great Bear Lake. NWT, which were two of the best summers of my life.

I have dozens of tales to tell if you want to hear them, and here’s the first one.

During my second season Ernie (he and his wife Mavis owned the place) stepped into the guide dining room and asked for everyone’s attention. Red Fisher he announced would be coming to Branson’s to film an episode of his outdoors TV show, The Red Fisher Show.

He’d be bringing three guests: Fergie Jenkins, the baseball player, and two astronauts, Donn Eisele (Apollo 7) and Jim Lovell (Apollo 13).

Signed 8x10 from Jim Lovell! Not sure where the moustache and goatee came from. Sorry, Jim.

Hopping about (a bit too much, I thought), clapping and rubbing his hands together he asked, “who wants to be the lucky guides to take Red and his group out next week?”


Guides pushed overcooked frozen peas around on their plates, downed the last swig of their $3 beers, or checked their fingernails to see if there was enough dirt there. “Anyone? It’s a great opportunity. You’ll be on TV!”

The back door suddenly slammed shut as two of the senior guides went to check if the lake was still full of water. Ernie pulled up his belt and fiddled with his fish knife while he scanned the room. Then he suggested we think it over, and if no one wanted the job, he’d choose a couple of volunteers in the morning.

Back in the guide shack my friend Murray and I asked around, and discovered that Red had been to Branson's before, and he wasn’t much of a tipper. Tipping was at least half a guide's take-home pay. Yikes.

But Murray and I decided fame was better than fortune this time around, and told Ernie we were his guys.

The first thing we had to deal with was mounting the two Johnsons. Red was sponsored by Johnson, so you had to see their motors on the boat. But Johnson would only pay to ship one set, so they went on one of Ernie’s new, custom built boats (more about them in another tale).

Murray and I took the engines out for a spin, and found the 40hp to be a tad slow - slower than the 35hp Yamahas.

Whenever we travelled long distances we’d have the Johnson’s lying in the boat. We’d only put them on for the camera. Even carrying that weight the Yamahas were faster.

Murray got Red and Fergie, I had Donn and Jim, and off we went on our first day to Action Alley. It was a typical day down there, and both boats were pulling them in one after the other.

When the cameraman wanted a certain angle he couldn’t get with real fish one of us -I won’t say who - obliged by pulling on Red’s line like a sprightly lunker. Red sure looked like he was enjoying the fight. I think the guests had a good time. I was only 23, and all that mattered to me was catching fish, so I can’t tell you much more about their personalities.

I don’t think Red (died 2006) would mind me mentioning his other sponsor, CN Tower Whiskey. The only time I think I’ve ever seen a bottle of the stuff outside a liquor store, it’s shaped like the CN Tower of course, was watching Red pouring from it from the bottle into his flask.

The picture of Red at the beginning was from the famous Lake X, that Ernie flew us down to for a day of pickerel fishing.

If you ever stumble across the episode I’m the guy Red keeps calling Slim, after all it was over 30 years ago! In the end I think Red gave Murray and I $50, which was quite a bit less than normal, but worth it in the end.

Hey, we were on TV!

Last modified onThursday, 17 January 2019 08:29
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