Lucky father, lucky son, lucky man

2021 06 Fathers Day Wknd Sunset
The St. Mary’s River from the boat ramp across the street from Pink’s house on a recent weekend. (Photo by Tom Pink)

In my little town of Sault Ste. Marie, one is never far from the St. Mary’s River.

For 30 years, we lived in a house about a mile from the river, and on quiet mornings before the traffic ramped up, we could hear the lake freighters churning up to the Soo Locks. If it was really still, we could hear the warning buzzer that sounded as the gates of the locks were opening and closing.

In spite of feeling as if we lived on the riverfront all this time, when my wife and I had the opportunity four years ago to buy a house across the street from a boat ramp that we’d been using for 30 years, we jumped on it. Now, from our new digs, it’s even easier to get on the water.

One would think our proximity to the boat ramp would have greatly increased the amount of time we spend on the river. In some months, it has – especially winter – but for too long that hasn’t been the case. Life still gets in the way, sometimes, no matter where you live.

Recently, I was reminded again of how lucky we are to live where we do, and how we shouldn’t let too much get in the way of enjoying this spot. Over a recent weekend, after a particularly long dry spell with no fishing rod in hand, I was able to get out on the river for three days in a row.

On Friday, I had some work to do in the morning, but I woke early, finished what I needed to do, and by 7:30 a.m. I had the anchor down and was enjoying the sun, stillness, and solitude. I could see a couple other boats a mile or more away on the Canadian side, but I had no competition where I was fishing. By 10 a.m., aided by the calm that made it easier to feel the light bites in the 54-degree water, I was headed home with a limit of whitefish. I had time to clean them and clean the house in time to receive our dinner guests.

On Saturday, three of us went out in a friend’s boat, and while the action wasn’t quite as fast in a building northwest wind, we still went home before noon with enough fish for a fish fry.

On Sunday, after working eight hours, then having dinner with my mother-in-law, I still had enough daylight to get out for a little more fishing on another beautiful, calm evening. I launched at 6 p.m., picked up a friend on the beach downstream, and we fished for almost an hour-and-a-half. The fish were still biting lightly and stealing a lot of bait. I finally hooked one to add to the bunch we caught on Saturday.

By 7:15 p.m., the wind was freshening ahead of an advancing storm. We pulled the anchor at 7:20, I dropped by partner on the beach, then sped home as quickly as my 25-horse would take me. At 7:45, I was pushing the little boat into the garage, and by 8 p.m., as the rain started, the whitefish had been “reduced to possession,” as my Old Man would say, and I was getting ready for bed. (Hey – I get up at 4 a.m. for work.)

Never mind the good fortune I had while fishing, the entire weekend reminded me of how lucky I am that it’s so easy for us to get on the water. We need to take advantage of it more often.

I’ve also been lucky as a father, and as a son. I was so fortunate to have a father who passed on his love of the outdoors to his children, who in turn passed it on to their children.

Here’s to more time on the water, no matter where you live, and bringing your loved ones along.

Categories: Michigan – Tom Pink

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