The Jigging Gnome of Shekak Lake
Its been a few months since I created this website and so far, I have written a little over 20 posts. I do some basic tracking and what stands out is that posts that are more conversational have the highest amount of views and likes.
Using that as a guideline I am going to try to include a personal story of either myself or if possible, some guest editors. Could be a funny story, could be poignant (not sure that’s in my wheel house though) or maybe I will borrow the “This Happened to Me” format from Outdoor Life (suitably updated to avoid any lawsuits)
The Jigging Gnome of Shekak Lake
I have spent a lot of hours with my fishing group over the years. In cars, tents, canoes, planes, boats, cabins and even at McDonalds at 2:00 AM in Hearst, Ontario. It provides great breadth and depth of knowledge of one’s personality.
In 2016 our group embarked on our 2nd fly in trip to Shekak Lake. After the success of our 2014 trip we were pumped and if honest probably a little over confident in our fishing abilities. There were 6 of us on this trip, 4 regulars and two newbies. Per previous trips we partnered up for the fishing and the plan was to fish together all week unless anyone cried uncle.
Day 2 Chad cried Uncle. While he was loving the trip, he probably didn’t have the same passion for fishing the rest of us did and 8 hours a day in the boat was a bit too much. This meant that Whitey, his boat partner would be fishing solo for parts of each day. If the fishing on Shekak was as was as past trips had been, I am not sure this would even be a story. But it was not easy.
Sometime near the end of the week I joined Whitey for a morning fish. I honestly can’t remember why or how we ended up in this formation, but we did. Entering his boat, it was apparent that he had really settled in. The amount of refuse would have filled 1 maybe 2 industrial sized garbage bags. The was a foul smell that seemed to be coming from the area between us. On further inspection I believe it was emanating from the bench in front of him, the top of which was covered in an industrial strength slime. Parts pike ooze, parts walleye guts, part fish scent and parts earthworm entrails it was a site to behold (and smell).
Since Whitey was the Captain I asked where we were going to fish that day. With a mischievous smile he pointed to the far end of the lake and said “Jigging, we are going jigging”. Pulling into the spot I grabbed my rod, fiddled about picking a jig head, chose a plastic grub and turned to ask Whitey for a worm. He didn’t acknowledge me as he was already into a fish, a smaller walleye that he quickly flipped into the boat, unhooked it, flipped it back over the side, put on a new worm and dropped his bait down again all in under a minute! I persistently asked again for a worm. With a grunt a single worm came flying at my head followed by “use half, that jigs too big”.
For the next 30 minutes I caught a total of 1 walleye to Whiteys 10. I got lots of bites (I think) but it was such a soft bite I missed more than I hooked. Not Whitey. He was a machine. Conversation was limited to grunts and the occasional request for help netting his fish. Finally, I gave in and implored him to tell me what he was using. He quickly reeled in a showed me his setup: A 1/32-ounce jig, no plastic, tipped with a quarter inch of worm. He also pointed out that he was using his ultra light set up “6 lb test” he said.
After about an hour of kicking my ass the bite started to die down (for him, never got going for me) and we pulled out a bit deeper. At this point Dave and Willy pulled into our little corner. “How you guys doing” they asked. I started to explain in my typical way (lengthy, loud) when my Captain reminded me with a grunt to quit down and not disturb the fish. Just then Whitey set the hook on a big fish. I honestly thought he hooked a 40-inch pike! His rod was so bent over I swear the tip was visible on the other side of the boat. His drag was screaming like George Poveromo bone fishing in Bermuda. As I stood up to grab the net, I saw the telltale flash of a nice walleye. Excited and nervous to get the fish in I was trying to coach (yell) at him. Finally, after the fish took another screaming run under the boat, around our anchor line and danced past the prop I yelled” For F@%* sake Whitey – tighten the drag and get that fish in”. With a mischievous grin he tightened the drag and rolled in a 25.5-inch walleye. An absolute beauty.
Sitting around the fire that night we were reliving the day as usual. At one point it just came out of me “Whitey, he was just a machine back there, a sort of genius Gnome, a Jigging Gnome”. Now when we get together and especially if we are fishing Whitey is no longer Whitey, he's the Jigging Gnome