Well, I was howling in agony and I couldn’t help but cry out for a doctor.
“I need a doctor, pulleassse!!” I screamed, with only my fishing buddies and a pair of rather funereal-looking ravens sitting high on a tree branch to hear my pleas.
A 45-inch pike had pummelled me in the clavicle with its snout and, before I could attend to that injury, went into a death roll that ended with my exposed hand in its mouth. And now my bloody fingers were decorating my friend Gordie Greening’s boat like Jackson Pollack with a can of red paint.
I was trying to stage a photo for a contest I’m in, which required me to point a time-stamped picture on my phone toward Gordie’s camera while wrestling with 25-pounds of angry, writhing pike. The scheme obviously did not go well and now I needed medical assistance, stat!
Alas, there was no doctor in sight. We did have one dentist on board and a pretty darn good one too, Dr. Kosta Aloimonos from Adam Dental Clinic. But the only dentistry he was practising Sunday was removing hooks from the jaws of the endless parade of pickerel he was hauling into the boat. He was putting on a clinic and leaving me in the dust.
“Get your hook down deeper Mike, to the bottom,” the walleye whisperer advised, as I jabbed myself in the thumb with the business end of a jighead I was trying to tie to my line.
Needless to say, there was trouble in paradise.
I first met Kosta in the winter of 2001/2002 when we went ice fishing with his boss, Dr. Hassan Adam. I was relatively new at being a fishin’ technician, Kosta was the new dentist in town and he was tagging along on a brutally cold outing to Walsh Lake.
The two dentists stared in disbelief as I produced a hand auger and began churning the blade through four-foot thick ice as snow swirled around our ankles. I’m sure it took me at least 20 minutes to get through that ice, and that was for just one hole.
I can’t remember if we caught anything but a day or two later, Kosta and Dr. Adam showed up at the Yellowknifer office with a brand new gas-powered auger.
“We just don’t want to watch you have to drill your holes by hand anymore,” they told me as I stood stunned in the doorway.
It was an extremely generous gift but an admittedly inappropriate one to accept for a cub journalist such as myself. But by and by, the company honchos at the time, Jack Sigvaldason and Mike Scott made a deal with them. THEY would buy the power auger and Kosta and Dr. Adam could donate an equivalent amount to a charity of their choice.
And that’s how Northern News Services became one of few newspaper companies anywhere to possess its own power ice auger, which I suppose is kind of fitting for a newsroom that had a fishin’ technician on its payroll.
Of course, few other staffers used the auger other than myself, and the device was a trusty Fishin’ Technician companion for many years.
Anyway, I’ve been looking for a way to show some gratitude ever since, even more so after Kosta became my regular dentist. Every time I’m in his office we talk about two things: how much he’d like to go fishing and how little time he has to do it.
So I was a little surprised – but delighted – when he told me last week that he was game for a little Father’s Day fishing action north of Great Slave Lake, as was Gordie who took us out there.
Three fathers, mid-40s, two kids a piece. What could possibly be better.
Well, I snake-bitten for some reason. When I wasn’t busy getting injured, I spent a lot of time catching nothing.
Kosta, though, was on fire.
“I can’t keep them away from me,” he beamed as yet another pickerel came to hand.
He also caught a dandy 45-inch pike to start off the day but unlike mine (one of the few fish I actually did land), his didn’t leave him a bloody mess.
“That’s my biggest pike ever, by far,” Kosta said, holding aloft the spectacular fish.
Well, I’m glad if anybody had a big day on the water Kosta, it was you. Cheers, please go easy on me with that next filling, alright?