Fishing trip included missing soap and big catch


Mysteries challenged this year’s Canadian fishing crew. All five of us, collectively scratched our heads in wonderment, some pointing to a couple gulls soaring overhead, the others tossing out ideas and babble, all of which seemed rather unlikely.

A true Temagami, Ontario, mystery. Who or what made off with the soap? On day one of our annual week-long, male only, north woods foray, I had placed a new bar of soap on the dock, a community bar and obvious encouragement to wash one’s hands after handling worms and fish.

Vanishing soap

A day later the soap had vanished. Thus began an investigation that included all of the who, what, and where questions deserving of top-shelf investigations of significant crimes.

Nothing. A real live who-done-it. So I placed another bar of hand soap on the dock. A few hours later it too was missing.

More finger pointing, unlikely theories and dirty hands. It was then determined to be time for a sting operation. Yet another bar of soap was placed on the dock. As we walked away two sets of eyes hid in the nearby boathouse and settled in to gather evidence.

Their wait was short. As soon as the cabin door slammed as the rest of us retreated, Mia, a six-year-old black Labrador belonging to a member of the gang that typically requires a prompt to retrieve a thrown dummy, strolled out on the dock, picked up the soap and proceeded to bury it under nearby pine needles.

Crime solved and even led us to find one of the other soap bars nearby.

Other interesting happenings also made this year’s outing special. I had decided to make this trip and ultra-lite experience, with gear downsized to make landing each hard-fighting cold water walleye a real battle.

Northern pikeMike Tontimonia Northern Pike

While trolling worms, I hooked into what I thought was a real trophy walleye but turned out to be the largest northern pike I have ever caught in well over a half-century of drowning nightcrawlers. This one on a spindly spinning rod and equally light line.

The big alpha predator finally tired itself and allowed us to stuff its head into a landing net and wrestle its body into the boat by hand.

A couple pictures later, the fish was revived and released. Of course, we had our regular hassle with the U.S. Border Guards when we attempted to re-enter the states.

My son-in-law’s last name is Miller, the name, according to officers, that is the most popular alias used by criminals on the run. We were instructed to keep our hands on the dash and in sight at all times while we were approached by a second watchful border guard and then began the annual game of interrogation and fingerprinting which in this world of technology, ought to be a one-and-done hassle.

Each year, fingerprints and photos are taken, promises made that it would surely be the last time, and then it all happens the next time. We laugh about it every time, fully expecting to waste an hour or more to simply re-enter our country.

But it does cause me to question the efficiency of our system.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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