Tiny But Tasty by David Horvath

Going into the bush for a few days with just a frying pan, butter, tea, and a salt and pepper shaker really puts the pressure on to find something to eat.

Every so often a group of friends and I head out to some distant lake or secluded area, to, as they say, \”live off the land\”. Sometimes an acquaintance or two want to savor the experience with us, so off we go, with the new guys expecting venison or sauteed grouse as a main course. Sometimes the picking gets pretty slim, which is always hilarious and has the more experienced guys rolling on the ground laughing so hard they can\’t catch their breath. Here is a tale of a lesson learned the hard way.

Three of us seasoned \”food finders\” headed out in the old 4×4 for a few days of \”roughing it\” and bumped into a few of the local boys. Looking at the old canoe on top of the truck they inquired as to what we were up to and where we were going. After a lengthy discussion they said they wanted to tag along. I looked over at the other guys in the truck and they nodded their approval. The other crew said they would meet us at the designated spot and that not a morsel of food would be with them. (I won\’t mention any names, as there might be hard feelings…) We looked at each other and said, \”Done deal.\”

After we all arrived at the secluded lake we immediately went on the prowl for food. The greenhorns got their huge boat in the water and proceeded to wash off the mud that covered the beautiful craft\’s paint job. It was fairly early in the day, and the sun was shining brightly. We waded in up to our waists hoping to nab a pike for supper while the other guys raced back and forth across the lake in the gleaming powerboat chasing greebs and seagulls. After a while, and after having no luck at all with the larger fish, we turned our sights on the numerous perch that were sunning themselves in the shallows all around us. Soon each of us had a willow stringer of perch on our belts.

All of a sudden the other fellows roared around the point and cut their engine as they hit the shallows we were fishing in. The boat wash almost knocked us over! \”Whatcha doin\’?\” asked the captain. We pointed to the stringers of small perch on our belts and were met with howls of laughter from all three of them. After they caught their breath they announced that they were going to the far end of the lake to get some \”real meat\”. The engine roared to life and we were again blasted by water and sand from the prop. After regaining our composure we tried fishing for the perch again, but they had apparently been spooked by all the action. It was getting late so we decided to go back to camp.

A roaring fire warmed our bones as we cleaned our small fish. We soon had heaps of delicious pan-fried perch steaming in front of us. An hour later, with our bellies full, we relaxed in front of the fire and watched the sun set. We were starting to worry about the other crew when they suddenly roared into sight. As they walked up the beach we noticed that none were carrying fish. \”What happened to your ‘real meat\’?\” asked my partners at the same time. They explained that they had tried every lure and different areas of the lake but never even had a bite. \”Where\’s all the fish you guys had?\” they inquired. As I pointed to the piles of bones beside each of us their eyes widened in surprise. \”What a bunch of pigs!\” they exclaimed.

We told them that we had passed a huge grove of saskatoon bushes about a mile back down the trail we had come in on. Hastily, they grabbed their flashlights and headed down the trail to the saskatoons. As the three of us fell over laughing, someone said, \”Hey! Shouldn\’t we tell them that they are still flowering?\” Then we really cracked up! After a cup of tea, we rolled into our sleeping bags and pretended to snore as we heard them return from their foraging trip. We could hear some grumbling but couldn\’t make out what they were saying. After giggling a bit more, we fell asleep.

Waking up early the next morning, I looked out and saw them out in the lake with water up to their chests jigging for perch with huge red and white spoons. Feeling sorry for them, I waded out with a few tiny jigs and rigged them up to catch some ‘real meat
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