After last year’s unbelievably successful father-son Canadian fishing trip, my son Jake and I decided to make this a tradition. As soon as school ends and the ice is out, we’re heading north. Monster pike, fierce smallmouths, and tasty walleyes…not to mention the beautiful scenery and the chance to see a bear or moose. The bonus this year was that my wife, Carole, was also coming along.
It seems as though we began planning this year’s trip the day we got home from last year’s adventure. In reality, we actually booked our cabin after Christmas.
This year I made it my goal to talk my mom and dad into coming with us. My dad’s first answer to most things is “No.” He’ll admit that he requires a little coaxing…and a coaxer I am if nothing else. We invited my mom and dad to our house for Thanksgiving. I planned to use this as my in-person opportunity to get my mom and dad to come to Canada with us. For the record, Mom doesn’t fish, but Dad sure does. I tried and tried that Thanksgiving to get my parents to come with us but failed miserably. Not to worry though, opportunity #2 was right around the corner. Christmas in Chicago with my family and the entire Soehn clan.
Long story short, I failed once again. Mom and Dad would be staying home. Jake, Carole, and I still looked forward to our fishing trip though.
Then life changed for us all. Right after Christmas my mom went to the doctor to get blood tests done and to look into some stomach pains she was having. A short time later, the test results revealed cancer. Pancreatic cancer. The two words you never want to hear. After many more tests, my mom had surgery on February 25th. Literally minutes into the procedure the surgeon came out to tell us the cancer had spread. Surgery would just make things worse. My dad asked the dreaded question, “How long do we have with her?” The answer floored us. Two months to two years, with an average of eleven months. I wish we had gotten that average. We lost her just 2 weeks and 3 days later. I still can’t believe it happened. I can’t believe she’s gone. She left her husband and three boys too soon.
A month or so later, I looked into cancelling our June trip. Fishing just wasn’t important anymore. Then I thought, maybe this would help Dad. After some more coaxing, I actually talked him into going with us. The trip was on. There was a very dark cloud over us, but I think it was something we all needed. So on June 13th, we jumped in my truck and headed north.
My dad had been to Canada a few times in the past, mostly with his four brothers, so the pressure was on. I wanted this to be the best Canadian trip he was ever on.
Day one we just fished the lake we stayed on. We caught some nice pike and smallies, including a couple 3 pound bass and a 9 pound pike. It was our ice breaker day. Day two we killed it! In our boat alone, my dad and I caught about 100 pike. We couldn’t keep them off our lines. Of course most were small, but we did manage to catch a few decent ones with an 11 pounder topping the day…plus a short stringer of walleyes. And to top it off, day two ended with us watching the Hawks win the Stanley Cup. No phone service, but we did get the Hawks on TV in our cabin. I still can’t figure that one out. Canada does love its hockey.
In the seven days we were there, we fished six different lakes. Each one had something good to offer. We even used a guide one day and Dad enjoyed his first shore lunch…on his birthday no less. We all caught lots of fish including some good ones. But most of all, we all had a great time. We fished a lot but we laughed even more. It’s been quite a while since Dad and I laughed. I think Mom watched over us to keep us safe and to make sure we laughed…and to keep the fish biting. I guess Mom’s a fisherman afterall. I think she’d be proud of how we handled this trip.
On our long drive home Dad was already talking about next year. I guess he found his new favorite place to fish. It’s funny how fishing isn’t just about fishing.
We miss you like crazy, Mom. Thanks for all the bites.