By Brandon Butler
Grandpa’s tackle box was covered with dust. Just over 14 years had passed since he last rummaged through his life collection of lures.
Wanting to preserve his memory by not pillaging his tackle, I had placed the vintage Plano 777 on a shelf in my barn and let it be for nearly a decade. The other night I finally broke it out, as I decided to take a little bit of him with on my upcoming wilderness adventure to Northern Ontario.
When I was a kid, my grandparents took me on numerous fishing trips to the North Country. Lake Osakis in Minnesota. Nelson Lake, the Chippewa Flowage, Yellow Lake and others in Wisconsin. Little Bay de Noc in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
When you’re 10, 11 and 12 years old, these places might as well be the Amazon, Sahara or Patagonia. These trips north took me to wild lands beyond imagination, magnitude multiplied by youthful mentality.
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My father isn’t a sportsman. He was cursed in life by a lack of a love for fishing. As much as I love and admire my dad, we’re quite different. So after watching his lifelong friend post pictures to Facebook year after year from the trip he and his son take each summer, I finally reached out to him and asked him to invite my dad to join him on the trip.
Figured it would have weight coming from his old Army buddy — and you know what? It did.
Dad asked if I wanted to go. A funny question, I’m sure, for those of you who regularly read this column: “Does Brandon want to floatplane into an extremely remote lake surrounded by endless wilderness to catch walleye and northern pike for a week?”
Uh, yeah, I want to go.
So we’re going, and I’m taking a few tokens of Grandpa’s with me. The man who lit this fire that fuels my being bought some lures back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that are being called off the bench and put back into rotation.
I figure there is no purpose in keeping so much tackle as keepsakes any longer. If I lose a few lures pursing our mutual passion, then so be it. As I grow older, I see less and less value in stuff, learning through the hard lessons of life and time that memories cannot be bought, only made.
We are driving to Red Lake, Ontario. This is where the highway ends, then we’re taking a floatplane another 150 miles north to a remote series of lakes in a provincial park.
We won’t be too far south of Hudson Bay. Truly, I am about as excited for the opportunity to shoot photography in the area as I am for the fishing, but I’m sure that will change the minute a double-digit northern stretches my line.
I can’t wait for the first bite of fresh walleye, caught, filleted and fried all within an hour. If we catch a few lunkers, great, but I what I am after more than anything is solitude. An entire week with out a single text message or email. By the time the following Saturday rolls around, I won’t have heard a single phone ring.
It’s been a long time since I have been so excited about a trip. Maybe I have become a little jaded by all the incredible opportunities I have to fish and hunt around the country. I am always thankful and cognizant of my good fortune, but right now, for the next couple of weeks, I’m just a kid going fishing with his dad. A trip I have waited 38 years for has finally arrived.
I’m excited to share the experience with you when I return.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.