This past year was full of blessings, with a new granddaughter topping the list. Nevaeh was born on January 13th to my daughter Nicolette. Her husband Joe is the son of my friend Tom Mikulinski, an avid outdoorsman and one of the best steelhead fly fisherman on the planet – if not the galaxy. No doubt Nevaeh has the fishing gene.
I met some wonderful grown-up people as well. Through my involvement as a fishing and hunting guide and promotor I am getting to meet more and more of Wilderness North’s staff each year. They are a fun-loving group of good people. It’s great to be connected to an organization with such wealth in human resources.
Naturally I met some wonderful guests as well. Chronologically I’ll start the list off with Steve and Ed Ford. These brothers make a yearly bucket-list sojourn to some far off place and do something exciting. The brothers alternate on who chooses what adventure. This past year Steve chose learning how to fly fish and catching a Canadian brook trout on a fly rod. They achieved both goals with style. And the three of us enjoyed many good laughs on Makokibatan Lake and the Albany River. I also met some great First Nations guides on that trip. Guys that are amazing boat handlers. I am always blown away by how well they know the water.
There were also many other guests at Makokibatan. Tom Ferris and his pals put on a master walleye “clinic” and showed me some advanced jigging techniques that I tucked away in my back pocket for future trips. What was especially encouraging was that these fellows were very generous about sharing their knowledge with other guests (and guides).
Throughout the summer I did some guiding of my own on the Nipigon River, where some of the world’s biggest brook trout are caught each year. I met a number of great people on this trip. It’s always so interesting to hear about other peoples’ lives, families and occupations. My final guiding experience took place on the Ogoki River system where I guided two groups of moose hunters. The first was a group of four: Rich, Pete, Bob and Seth. These gentlemen hunted with me and another WN guide, Brian. We covered a lot of territory on Whitewater Lake and enjoyed lots of good memories. On the following week I guided Curt Dannen, a repeat customer from 2011 who wanted a second chance to harvest a moose. His two friends, Jack and Russ, were both successful on that hunt. It’s always such a rich experience to celebrate the outdoors and enjoy good camaraderie.
Laughter always seems to be a common denominator. When it comes to making friends and creating bonds, laughter is good medicine. On one of my trips I was asked by a guest, “Have you ever guided a couple of real morons?” My quick-witted reply was, “You mean prior to you guys?” We shared a good belly laugh over that one. But truth be told, I’ve never guided anyone that I wanted to leave on the other shore. I’ve found that outdoors people are a good lot.
So this Christmas I’m particularly thankful for new people in my life. From the many folks I’ve gotten to know over a few days of fishing or hunting, to that little girl that is now the apple of Papa’s eye.
I hope you’ll join us on an adventure next year. We’d love to have you.
Merry Christmas to all!
Scott Earl Smith