I’ve come to believe that the best fishing adventures are more about the people you meet along the way, and the beautiful natural places you share with them, than they are about the fish themselves. Case in point happened last week, as I was pike fishing on Lake Athabasca in Northern Saskatchewan, where I was lucky enough to learn a little about an avid outdoorsman from Wisconsin named Paul Eckardt.
Paul was a carpenter, machinist, and dairy farmer by trade who had a genuine passion for fishing and hunting in wild places. I didn’t have the opportunity to see that myself, but I could just tell by talking with Paul’s son, John, and his brother, Bob.
You see, Paul passed away a couple years ago. And it was at least partly in his honor that his son (from Wisconsin), and his brother (from California), who hadn’t really seen much of each other for a few years, decided to converge on a watery wonderland north of the 58th Parallel in the Canadian wilderness.
And Paul came along too–not only in spirit–but some of his ashes also made the trip. John explained to me that his father had once semi-joked that he’d like to be sent off with a Viking funeral. So John and Bob did the next best thing.
As the week went on, with every large northern pike the duo landed (and they landed many, believe me… these guys were full-tilt anglers), a little smattering of Paul’s ashes came out of a special pouch, and went back into the lake with the pike. I’d say that’s an even higher honor than a Viking funeral.
These days, you can get sent up in a rocket… even packed into live ammunition. But what greater homage for an angler than to be placed back among the waters and fish that excited the living soul? And to have fishing be the impulse, the mission, that connects and reinforces the spirit between brothers–father and son–after one is gone… indeed, I think that’s a very rich legacy worth recognizing.