“Go fish in Ontario.”
A common tag line, albeit unoriginal, that I have heard on TV a number of times. Desensitized to such commercials, the one for traveling to No. Dak. is just white noise, it took me a while before I actually listened to the Ontario fishing commercial.
When I finally heard it, I realized that I had fallen for the commercial. Hook, line, and sinker.
You see, it’s not so much that I want to fish in Ontario; I just want to fish.
On open water. In the cool of morning, at the beginning of June. With nothing but a boat and a buddy, a rod and a reel, a tackle box and a tan (that comes in around mid July).
Whether in Canada or Minnesota, I just want to fish.
I want to feel the cool of morning. To dip my hand into the water just a few short days after the ice goes out. The breeze in my face, biting and bold, causing my eyes to water and my nose to feel cool to the touch on the tip. Rocked by the boat as it finds its rhythm in the waves. The weight of a light-weight pole in my hand, the line tugged by fish and aquatic vegetation. That rush of adrenaline when a fish bites my line, trying to escape the sharp hook I craftily baited with worms or leeches (real, not fake). The pride of a catch big enough to brag about. Satisfied with my patience. Thrilled with my skills, the skills I’ve learned and studied, practiced and perfected. The smell of fish clinging to my hands, reminding me of my hard work and success on the water; begging me to rinse and repeat the next day. Tying off a boat in the slip or driving it into a covered lift, killing the engine and wishing it didn’t have to end. I want to step off a boat at the end of a long, fish-filled day and feel like I’m still moving, as if the water were more natural than land.
More than that I want those minutes, hours, days of time to think and talk, listen and learn. Those quiet moments when all you hear is the water kissing the side of the boat, lines being cast, reels reeling, and fish tails slapping the water in a final attempt to break free. The view of water all around you. Tree lined shores with occasional beaches and lake properties, dotted with identifying docks and lifts. Tiny images of boats in the distance, carrying anglers or pulling playful kids and adults willing to get wet and daring to be wild.
Unless you’ve been in a fishing boat, a beat up Lund or a fancy Ranger, you might be confused.
And you might be wondering, why would anyone want to go out on a boat-in the rain or sun-just to catch bass or walleye? Well, for me, it’s more than just the actual sport of fishing.
It’s the therapy of the lake and the way in which a day out fishing can melt away whatever worries you’re worrying over. It’s the way in which time in a boat can sort out your confused thoughts and answer your deepest life questions. It’s the way in which your secrets stay safe and secure. It’s the way in which you discover who you are and who you want to be.
Can you see why? Why I want to “Go fish in Ontario“?
The first chance I get I’m jumping in a boat, hooded sweatshirt and all, possibly in Ontario, most likely not, and I’m going to fish for what it is I fish for. Not the actual fish. But the peace and clarity that a day out fishing, a full limit or empty-handed, is sure to bring me every single time I prep a tackle box and tie a fish knot.
“Go fish in Ontario.”