At the top of his list

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 1, 2006

For most sportsmen, taking that fishing trip of a lifetime is one of those lifelong aspirations that never gets to be lived out.

Jerry Lyles is one of the lucky few who had that dream fulfilled this summer when he and a group of four coworkers took a fishing trip to Manitoba, Canada, for a few days of Pike and Walleye fishing.

“I have done plenty of fishing around here for bass and crappie, but never did anything like this,” Lyles said. “You know you watch the fishing shows and see these guys fishing in places like Alaska and Canada and wonder what that is like. That’s why when the opportunity came along I jumped on it.”

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It wasn’t long thereafter that Lyles and his coworkers found themselves jumping onto a plane headed for the appropriately named Fishing Lake, located 175 miles northeast of Winnipeg near the Manitoba-Ontario border.

Lyles said the flight into Fishing Lake was terrifying because the group rode a plane barely big enough for themselves and their luggage and had to land onto a rough airstrip, near their lodge. But once he stepped off the plane, it all seemed very well worth it.

“The first thing I noticed was the air which was really, really fresh with this pine scent,” Lyles said. “There were nothing but pine trees all around, and big blue skies and lots of beautiful blue water. It was real scenic and something that you just don’t see here in the states. You just had to be there.”

At night the group exchanged stories and fellowshipped by campfire underneath one of nature’s grandest spectacles — the Northern Lights.

Lyles said the quality of the fishing was almost as impressive as the scenery.

“I caught my first fish practically as soon as I dropped my hook in the water. The fishing was phenomenal,” Lyles said. “We fished for four days and each person caught between 100-150 fish each day. You almost got tired of reeling them in.”

Lyle says the group released all but a couple of fish, which the guides kept and prepared for them each day for lunch on the shore.

As for tasting his own catch, Lyles said it was delicious, but that wasn’t the best part of the trip.

“The best part was that I caught the two biggest fish — the master walleye and the biggest pike,” Lyles said.

For his walleye, Lyles received a master angler certificate and letter from Eric Robinson, the Manitoba Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism. Along with the letter and certificate came a badge and a medal. Lyles said that the pike he caught missed qualifying for the same award by less than half of an inch in length.

“Looking back, it was probably one of the most interesting trips of my life,” Lyles said. “I’ve traveled to a lot of different places, but scenery wise and the with the fresh air and the fishing — this trip ranks way up there at the top of my list of things I’ve done.”