Well, the flyfishing shows are mostly over for us now. There’s one more left, the Philadelphia Show at the Valley Forge Convention Center, March 5 and 6. This is a new venue and I hope to see a lot of our friends from seasons past. If you’re in the area, come by the booth and bring along a cup of hot, black decaf. We’ll shoot the bull about Labrador and big reds.
We’re back in the winter office making plans for the coming season in Labrador, our fourteenth. There are the various pre-season tasks to be completed. The 2011 Guest List has a few spots that need to be filled. (Wanna come fishing this summer?) We’re gritting our teeth an hoping the US dollar strengthens a bit before summer. It is now worth less than the Canadian dollar. Ugh! But hey, what’s a little adversity when you’re an outfitter!
From holiday phone conversations, sounds like most of the staff will be back again for this summer. Kev and Frances, manager and head cook respectively, will of course be returning. This will be their eleventh season with TRL. A couple of our guides have ‘signed on’ with the contractors on Newfoundland Island during the off-season. Full time employment is much in demand on the Island and in Labrador and steady jobs always seem to trump a summer of guiding. Certainly can’t blame the boys – they each have families to care for. By the end of March, we’ll have each guide’s decision about returning for another summer. Jordan and Anthony have already committed and Uncle Ned and Dot Whittle are now officially retired.
Over the next few days, I will be featuring our guides here on the Fishing Log and with each feature, I’ll try to tell some stories about ‘the boys’ and their experiences at camp.
A Newfie and his wife, while touring Yellowstone Park, were on a nature walk with a Park Ranger and several other visiting couples. In a thickly-forested area, the Ranger stopped and asked “Does anyone know how to find north just by looking at a tree?” After a pause with no responses, the Newfie replied “I couldn’t say much about finding north – or even south for that matter, but I know which is the front of the tree.”
The Ranger first looked perplexed, then incredulous, and asked “How’s that, sir?”
The Newfie waved the palm of his hand up and down the near side of the tree and said “My son, this is the front of her right here.”
Chuckling at the accent and the Newfie’s self-assuredness, the Ranger smiled and asked “And just how would you know that’s the front?”
The Newfie, very matter-of-fact, stepped around to the left of the tree and pointed to the ground. “Cause someone’s done taken a shit round back of her.” (as told by Ned Whittle)
If you want it sugar-coated, then don’t ask Ned Whittle. But if you enjoy a good Newfie joke, appreciate a true companion, feel a little unsteady in your wading boots, and/or enjoy where you’re fishing as much as the fishing, well then you’ll treasure a day on the water with “Uncle Ned”. Ned has been our guiding anchor for the past seven years. He has been a shoulder to lean on, both literally and figuratively. You may have to ask him to slow down if you’re following him down a caribou trail, but you’ll be comforted to know that even at 65 years young, Ned can pick you up, if need be, and haul you out of most anywhere in the bush. Never one to complain or seek the easy assignment, Ned’s example for the staff has been a force in camp since he first arrived.
Further still, Ned has been our manager, Kevin’s right-hand man during those times he’s ‘off the water’. Ned decided to retire after the 2010 season and he took his wife, Dot, with him. The coming summers will not be the same without the pair of them. All of us have come to depend on Ned and Dot for their candor, their level-headedness and for their willingness and knack for handling most any situation, especially those requiring patience, hard work and stamina.
And we’ll never again see the likes of a man who can tell a joke or spin a yarn on par with Uncle Ned.
Enjoy your retirement, both of you. We’ll miss you mightily.