Don't you love the name Flin Flon? Those crazy Canucks.
Frankly, I thought we were half-crazy driving so far to go fishing. Don't we live right next to a river? And doesn't that river have fish in it? But last week we made the trek, my first trip to northern Manitoba, baby and fishing rods in tow. It's a little odd to go on an early summer vacation to a place where the birch trees still haven't leafed out, ice still blocks access to some of the lakes, and you are greeted in the morning to frost covering cabin windows.
What's the appeal? Well, it's the fishing, silly. The huge lakes are interconnected by rivers and creeks, giving you a sense of adventure and exploration as you portage from one to another. Surrounded by nothing but pine trees and loon calls, it's not uncommon to see bear or moose roaming around, which gets outdoorsmen more excited than seeing Angelina Jolie roaming naked on the lake shore.
Or like my father-in-law said, you feel like you're in the middle of a Hamm's beer commercial.
I couldn't have said it better.
I didn't go fishing myself this time, having a six-week old baby in tow, but I did get out for a cruise around the lake in the evening. It was breathtaking. You feel the wildness of the place with water so clean and clear that you can see the fish swimming deep below the surface. The lakes are peppered with forested islands, many with names and stories like Tombstone Island ("because people are buried there") or "That Place Where Jim and Sandy Got Stranded For The Night When Their Boat Motor Quit" Island.
If you are interested in taking a trip up to northern Manitoba, get more info here, here, and here. However, we're fortunate in the Bismarck area that you don't have to drive twelve hours to go fishing. The Missouri River is hoppin' right now, according to my walleye-expert dad; the waters of Lake Sakakawea haven't been this high in years; and many smaller local lakes like Fish Creek are underappreciated in our humble opinion.
So hitch up the boat and hook on a lindy rig or a hula popper. Once you've reeled in the big one, here's the family secret to holding a fish fry, tested and perfected over the past forty years.
1. Gather your nearest and dearest together and go fishing.
2. Clean and fillet the fish. Instructions here.
3. Get out the cast iron pan, Coleman stove, and Shore Lunch batter mix (Original Recipe, please) and set up a temporary kitchen on a picnic table outside. Batter the freshly-caught pieces of trout, northern pike, and walleye in a big Ziploc bag and fry in hot oil.
4. Take fish out of pan when golden-brown and crispy, and serve hot with lemon. Tastes best when eaten outside with a cold beer or brandy Coke in a mason jar while sharing fishing stories from past and present.