DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
KINGSLAND — What started seven years ago as a get-away trip for Bob Garst and his wife, Lily, has grown into a tradition for the couple and several other Highland Lakes folks.
But it’s also become a bit of a competition when the group fishes the Upper French River and Lake Nippising in Ontario, Canada.
At least for Garst and friend and fellow angler Tyrone Powers.
And at stake this year? The coveted Golden Hook Award.
“We’ve been going up there for about eight years now,” Garst said. “Of course, Tyrone and I just got a little competition going.”
The group, which has swelled in numbers the past couple of years, stays at the Chaudiere Lodge on the Upper French River. While the accommodations are nice, the fishing (and the cooler weather) is what really reels them in.
“It’s just a great time because we’ll all go fishing during the day and that evening, we’ll build a fire and cook what we catch,” Garst said. Then added with a laugh: “I guess if we don’t catch anything, then we don’t eat.”
But not catching fish hasn’t been a problem. This year, the group caught 365 fish over an eight-day period. Mostly, they landed walleyes with some bass and Northern pike sprinkled in.
While it’s a great vacation, Garst and Powers fell into a bit of a competitive stripe about the time Powers and his wife began joining the Garsts on the annual pilgrimage. Each year, Garst and Powers added a little fun by entering a competition — just between the two of them.
“Who could catch the most fish,” Garst said.
Last year, Powers edged Garst by four fish. But this year, with the newly created Golden Hook Award on the line, Garst bounced back by landing 88 fish compared to Powers’ 74.
As for the Golden Hook Award itself, well, it’s just a regular fishing hook the winner gets to wear in his ball cap.
“Yeah, it’s just for bragging rights,” Garst added.
While the two husbands landed the most fish, the big fish honors, however, went to Lily Garst. She snagged a 28-inch walleye that weighed in at just over eight pounds.
“She’s definitely the champ in the big fish category,” Garst said of his wife.