Where is Waldo? – A Gerrard Rainbow Trout Story
Now every so often a legend in hunting or fishing is born. In this particular story his name was Waldo. Notice how I put, was…I also took a lot of heat from my youngest brother for…well, we will get to that.
We were invited to go to the interior of BC to camp with my brother-in law, August of 2014. I had no idea of what fishing was like or of any of the surrounding territory. But as a master of the bush, I studied the area before we got there and loaded up two tackle boxes with enough lures, to catch the entire lake full of fish. Hmm well I had hoped. Upon arriving at the campground, we were greeted by a jolly old chap, an Englishman. Yes, from jolly old England. I asked him how the fishing was and he said slow.
Sure Shot and I winked at each other. We said to him don’t worry, we are here, your luck is about to change. He laughed. Now this fellow was smart he had the best campsite at the entrance to this campground overlooking a very deep, picturesque, pool. A trout fisherman’s paradise. He was very possessive of this little piece of real estate.
So we decided to have some fun with him, and well, to this day he does not know, but hey, this is what fishing is all about, pulling someone’s chain. Sure Shot and I could hardly wait to unleash some of my secret weapons. These were from many years of fishing and presentations. I have fished from coast to coast and well, not bragging, but have figured most of these critters out. Present a menu from a fine restaurant and voila, a recipe for success. We were after, Gerrard Rainbow trout, wild cutthroat trout, Rainbows, Dolly Varden (Bull trout)..Now Sure Shot Gail practiced her casting for hours on end to catch the big one. Damn accurate, as we set out to scour the vast area, two kids in a candy shop.
Turns out that Sure Shot Gail’s family had been coming to this secret hideaway for close to 20 years, and well members of the family did not present many fish frys. Not that they didn’t try. So we jumped in the four wheeler from Bass Pro, a recent edition and headed to a little creek that I had spotted coming in. I was noticing an infestation of live bait, so to an artificial replica of the almighty Grasshopper we went. Gail cast out into this little pool and bam thirty seconds later, she had a beautiful cutthroat, and one after another she would pull them in. We let them all go, as they are the last of a very rare species. She did manage to land some nice Kokanees as well.
Now it just so happened that a very aggressive predator was robbing me silly in the fast water by this giant deadhead.I said to Gail, “Just a couple of minutes I am going to catch this fish, he is a biggie. So I put a bobber on and drifted a big fat artificial Grasshopper past his hideout…Bam and boy did he hit. He took off, what a fight, when it was said and done a beautiful five pound Dolly Varden was on the stringer and headed back to camp.
Now, it just so happened that the jolly old English chap came by and saw us cleaning this fish. Wow, he said, where did you get that? I looked at Gail and winked , right down in that big hole in behind your trailer. Really, he said really. Yes, I said…he said, I have had something breaking my line down there day after day. I said there is a real big one down there. So every time I would go get wood he was fishing hour after hour catching nothing. My brother in-law was very impressed. We had fresh fish to eat, what a treat. Others year after year had tried and failed as they had come to visit.
The next day we headed out again, and once again we were catching all kinds of small stuff, and letting it go.Then we got into another nice Dolly Varden, not as big as the day before but a respectful four pounder. Once again he came by and saw us cleaning this fish. His eyes were staring, where did you get that? Man, I said, your hole is a hot spot! Not again, he said..Oh ya and there is even a bigger one, that got away. So once again he went down to this beautiful hole and was seen hour after hour not catching anything. By this time the brother-in law was totally impressed, as we were having another fish fry.
So as all good things have to come to an end, we were getting down to the final days of our visit. Gail and I set out on the four wheeler to a beautiful quiet part of the lake..I saw this log going out and a beaver dam. I said when I was a kid you just dreamed of these holes. Has to be something big in there. She curled up on the bank, with a book and the net. Not too sure what we were thinking, but that is how it went. I had put on this blue and silver lure…and had tipped it with an artificial grasshopper. I sent it out to the hole and bam, what a strike.I went quiet.
Gail, we have a really big fish on! It ran and ran, tried to take me to the deadhead..oh no you don’t…Now it just so happened that my brother-in law and his son came along at that exact moment. I was up to my waist in water, and the fishing net was way the hell over with Gail…Hurry up, I said to Johnny as I brought the lunker up from the depths..oh my oh my it was Waldo…the fish that had broken so many lines year after year. The legend of the lake…the Gerrard Rainbow Trout. But this one, well let me finish the story…Johnny ran like a man that had been swarmed by bees..grabbed that net and came sliding on his back down the side of the hill. By that time my knees were bloody as Waldo had thrown the hook…I had him pinned with a WWE body slam..Oh no you don’t again, I muttered. I had my hand in his gill and then Johnny reached down and in one swoop Waldo was history. Okay, now by that time, Martin, my brother in law’s mouth was wide open. Where did you get this guy? he said to Gail. Year after year his other brother-in law had come to this lake with many friends and all they caught were the small ones.
So we were on the way back to camp and stopped in to the little native store. The guy looked at the fish and said, My oh my, you caught Waldo, What were you using? I laughed and said a hook. He laughed and said, Let me guess and a fishing pole? My boy, that fish is a legend, don’t tell anyone you caught him it could hurt my business. I laughed and said, between us.
Now as we got back to the camp, I pulled out a drink and lay out the beauty on the table. Waldo was the width of the picnic table. Just at that moment, along came our English camp caretaker again, he was driving along and then he hit the brakes. You are kidding right? Where did you get that brute? I said, Man, I think that is the one that kept breaking your line in your hole.
Wow, so then it got out, people came from all around to take a look. As a matter of fact, my brother in-law called back to Calgary to his other brother-in-law, a very competitive Scotsman that had fished this area with many buddies for close to thirty years and low and behold he shows up (I suspect he had maybe had a run in or two with Waldo, just guessing as had many others).
The Scotsman promptly loads his boat, not to be out done, and then takes off. Out on the lake he goes with his dogs…almost possessed about catching one bigger. After five hours he comes in and I said, How did you do? He looks at me and says “There is more to fishing than catching fish you know”.
Also at that time our big beautiful pan of Waldo fish was sizzling in the coconut oil, golden brown. Would you like some? I said, sheepishly he said, Sure you would share that? Just then his wife, Gail’s little sister says, You are the king fisherman, Bear. I just laughed and said, Thank god for this blessing.
As he ate I said to him, How are you enjoying the fish?…Amazing, he said. And then I looked him in the eyes and said, ”You can’t eat them if you can’t catch them!” and started to laugh. He turned red.
The English chap came along again, still shaking his head, and asked me once again where I caught the monster and I said, In your hole! I proceeded to go to my tackle box to give him a few lures that I had tried and failed with…and then said to him, Where there is one big one, there could be another.
When we left he was fishing away in that precious piece of real estate and Waldo was just a picture in his mind for him to catch. When I got home my young brother said, You should have let him go. I said, Right, Waldo needed a lesson..and he messed with the Bear..lesson learned.
One thing to this day that I wonder about was whether that English chap caught anything on those lures I gave him in his hole. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that his hole, well, it was a lure sucking hole, of sticks and bottom..I fished it lol….With the luck we had, one never knows do they?
Another story from the Squirrell’s Nest with Brian Bear Squirrell your hunting and fishing guide in Nova Scotia, Canada. Visit our site at www.bigbearoutfitters.co