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  • Wednesday August 4, 1999

    Peter Brewster writes:

    Below seashell rapids

BREWSTER I'm writing tonight on a full stomach.
     You may not notice the difference, but I do.
     Typically, we set up camp and I write.
     Tonight, I have two large, steaming bowls of the official Hide-Away Canoe Club chowder under my belt, and on a cool night after a great day on the river there is no better way to be.
     Okay, a bottle of cold Chardonnay would have been icing.
     The fishing on the Winisk has been good all along, but today it excelled.
     We had started the morning in PR mode with Mike talking to the CBC on the satellite phone.
     This, and some technical difficulties with the computer equipment, made for a late launch, but things quickly picked up speed.

    Peter Scott and Peter Brewster run the lower set of Rough Rapids on the Winisk River. -- Michael Peake photo --> to photo gallery

     The river the last two days has been spectacular, with large named rapids and gorgeous unnamed swifts to keep us cooking along.
     Around noon today we pulled the boats over the rocks at Rough Rapids, and I got out the light spinning rod for a few casts.
     As the lone angler of the group, I rarely devote a lot of time to fishing while we are river-running, and will have a try at lunch, or after supper.
     At Rough Rapids we hit the jackpot. There were pickerel and pike everywhere on the edge of the fast water, and two fat specimens of each hit the Mepps Aglia Long (fire red) at once.
     The next hit was different: the fish just moved off steadily, taking 8lb. line easily off the reel. Long runs followed deep headshaking dives, and eventually a big pike surfaced where we could see it.
     I'd like to say we landed him and that he was the main item in that chowder, but in spite of heroics by Dave with the net the fish threw the Mepps back at me from close range.
     But so far we had seen no brook trout. That changed at lunch.
     We had stopped to eat about halfway down Seashell Rapid, and in fast, rocky water I nailed a three and half pound male brookie on the first cast. A beautiful fish, brightly coloured and with a rim of white on the fins.
     And so back to that chowder. It contained brook trout, pike and pickerel, a river reflection of, say, pizza with three cheeses, but so much more satisfying. Ask Mike about the recipe is your E-mails and he MIGHT just divulge.
     We have enjoyed this meal over the past 16 years on rivers in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Ungava, north-eastern Quebec and more, and although the pinnacle was one made with fresh Arctic char on the Coppermine River in the Territories, with enough left over for lunch next day in sub-freezing weather, wherever we have it it's a trip highlight, All of which brings me back to Michael's CBC stint with Mary Ambrose on This Morning.
     Ambrose had wondered aloud - and somewhat testily - how we could bring all this technology along on a wilderness canoe tip and still say we are "getting away from it all" (whatever it is that people get away FROM).
     Your missing the point, Mary. If you were reading the E-mails we have been getting, and they are there on the website for any diligent journalist or interested onlooker to look at, you'd see there are a lot from folks who would love to do this trip if they could, But can't, for whatever reason.
     Our group has done some major expeditions since the early 80's, canoe trips that established new routes, with a number of 28-day jaunts capped by two 55-day, l,000-mile marathons.
     Much of that work, via slide shows and speeches given by the Peake brothers, has encouraged others to take up this exquisite form of physical torture; and we hope, has in some small manner helped to lead the way as earlier canoeists inspired us.
     By doing an on-line trip, we are sharing the experience on an immediate level with thousands of people.
     We are away from it all, if you will, but they are along for the ride.

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