Take my longtime amigo Matt: We could tell he was down in the dumps over the recent sale of his beloved Muskoka cottage. And for good reason: His family built the gorgeous lakefront property and enjoyed it for decades. My own family and our mutual friends, meanwhile, were invited up frequently.
My buds and I wanted to cheer Matt up and thank him for all the good times. But how? The best approach, we reasoned, was to do something he loved doing at the cottage, but that blew the cottage experience away. “You don’t need the cottage to have a wicked time doing (blank),” was how we saw it. Trouble was, cliff-jumping, waterfall-sliding, poker-playing and dockside cigadoobs really don’t get any better than they do at the cottage.
We couldn’t go for something mediocre. That might make Matt’s blues even worse. Whatever we did, it had to be off the hook.
Off the hook...that’s when it hit us: Matt loves to fish at the cottage, and the salmon fishing in Lake Ontario, we had heard, is epic.
These segues write themselves: After making a few enquiries, we settled on an afternoon with Epic Sportfishing. Based in Scarborough’s picturesque Bluffer’s Park Marina, captain Aaron Flavell and his 30-foot SeaRay power cruiser seemed like the perfect fit for our group of four.
A perfect fit for three of us at least. While my companions were experienced anglers, I hadn’t fished seriously for years. That’s why it came as such a relief that WE DIDN’T HAVE TO DO A DAMN THING OTHER THAN HAUL IN MASSIVE FISH.
With six lines in the water, blue skies overhead and first mate Bill manning both the wheel and the sonar-powered fish-finder, our spirits were high as we motored away from shore. And they got even higher when a spinning reel interrupted Aaron’s introductory remarks.
“You guys lucked out. For October, the fishing is amazing,” he said, adding that the unseasonably warm fall weather and lake temperatures have extended the salmon season like never before. “So, over here you’ve got your...Whoa! There's one on! Who’s up?”
Naturally, the first bobbing rod was handed to Matt, who promptly reeled in a gleaming eight-pound Chinook. And so it went: For the next three hours, we took turns pulling in salmon after salmon, with yours truly winning a battle with an enormous rainbow trout that’s in the smoker as I type.
Lulls in the action were few and far between — we threw back more than we kept — and just as the sun was setting spectacularly behind the distant CN Tower we reached our 15-fish limit.
“Cottage? What cottage!?!” someone hollered as our cans of (completely non-alcoholic!) beer collided overhead and Aaron displayed his on-board filleting mastery.
Did all this make Matt forget about his cottage? Certainly not. But at least, I think we reminded him that there are other, much bigger fish in another, much bigger lake.