The Lure of the North

By Brian Okeefe

Be Careful. Each Spring It Gets Stronger

Do you like fishing? Have you ever thought about spending a summer at a fishing camp and getting paid for it? There are lots of summer jobs available at the many fishing camps in Saskatchewan. For the past seven summers I have worked at fishing camps in Northern Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories as a guide, manager, cook and fishing pro. I would like to tell you of some of the experiences during my first trip, some good and some bad, but somehow they all combined to create an irresistible attraction that keeps me coming back.

In the spring of 1981 I decided to look for a summer job. One day I noticed an ad in the newspaper for some workers at a fish camp. Since I liked fishing, I sent in a resume and applied for a job. A short time later, I received a phone call from Lincoln, Nebraska, offering a job as a guide at a camp at Henik Lake in the Northwest Territories. I accepted and as soon as I hung up the phone I found an atlas and looked up the location of Henik Lake. Naturally I was anxious to find out where Henik Lake was since I had committed myself to spend the summer there. They had told me the fishing season ran from early July, when the ice cleared the lake, until the end of August. That suited me fine since I am a schoolteacher and was available for those two months.

About a week before the end of June I received a phone call from Winnipeg. It was the manager from Henik Lake camp. He informed me that the company had decided I would 90 to Morberg’s as the “fishing pro” instead of guiding at Henik Lake. Again, after the phone call, I scrambled to find a map to see where Black Lake, Sask. was located. I found it on the top of the map about 50 miles (80km) south of the Northwest Territories boundary.

A week later I boarded Norcan Air’s F-27 for the flight to Stony Rapids. After a 5 hour flight which included stops at P.A., La Ronge and Uranium City, I finally arrived at Stony Rapids.

Looking out the window as we taxied up to the terminal, I could see some small buildings, a few small planes, and a few vehicles, with people standing around waving their hands. As I left the plane I was greeted by hordes of black flies and mosquitoes. The people weren’t waving at me after all, but were trying to ward off some insects. I later came to know that wave as the “Black Lake Salute.” Three of the people were staff from Morberg’s and after introductions, we loaded my luggage and headed into town to pick up the mail. Since it had arrived on the same plane as I had, we had to wait until it was delivered to the post office and sorted, a process that took about an hour.

The people weren’t waving at me after all, but were trying to ward off some insects.

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