After six weeks of self-isolation, it never felt better to cast a spinnerbait from the breakwall that lines our family cottage property, hoping to get the attention of a hungry, post-spawn northern pike.
My late-evening position, in a FMZ where I’m fortunate to be able to target the apex predator, offers a panoramic view to a cacophony of spring sights and sounds.
The calming chorus of songbirds and spring peepers is occasionally interrupted by the loud honks of settling geese, or gobble of a distant turkey. Diving ducks – buffleheads, I think – occasionally speed by, wingtips nearly grazing the water.
Social-isolating humans are in on it, too. Someone is cranking out “Walking in Memphis” downriver. Maybe it really is Saturday night, after all.
I would not hook into a pike before the last light emptied from the sky. But that really doesn’t matter. This stress and anxiety-busting connection with nature certainly does, however, during this all-important time.
I relished the fact that so many others were sharing in this special bond today, as turkey and trout seasons opened. I enjoyed reading on social media that a colleague’s son and a former co-worker both harvested their first turkeys.
My family made memories today, too. My son learned how to catch crayfish, while my daughter learned how to change baits on her own.
After a visit to the Talbot River Dam sanctuary, where hordes of suckers were beginning their spring run, our daughter blurted how it was the “coolest thing ever.” My wife and I turned to each other and smiled.
Let’s go outside
This pandemic has me, and certainly others, thinking more about how important time outdoors is to our mental health. Officials have made it clear that staying at home doesn’t mean staying indoors.
We’ve been spending our lunches walking along the trails next to our hometown river seconds from our back door, while respecting social distancing.
In fact, with bass season and many more days of working from home ahead, I’m looking forward to wrapping up many evenings casting my rod here – the same as I have done for the decade we’ve lived in our house.
We called our cottage weekend a guilt-free escape. As we packed up the truck for the weekend, we explained to a neighbour that it’s in the same municipality, merely 35 minutes away. It’s even in the same catchment area as our hospital.
The impact of this visit was immeasurable. We expect the kids to be beaming for several days. They needed it – learn at home, while mom and dad are working from home, has been difficult. The cottage was a beacon of hope during trying times.
We continue to be responsible, strictly following provincial orders and guidelines. I hope that others can continue to be responsible so that all outdoors enthusiasts continue to enjoy this tremendous opportunity in the challenging weeks ahead.
Jason Bain is the managing editor of Ontario OUT of DOORS. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org