The Call of the Wild Page 3
The Call of the Wild
Part 3: “I’ve worked in -70º weather, but I love fishing where I live and being close to my family.”
By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — March 2005
Equally fascinating was my fishing guide for the day, Flip (Capt. Alan Phillippe), who I met the next morning and who, at 57, has been fishing for nearly 40 years. He told me that at age 50 he decided “life was too short,” quit his day job in computers, and moved from the suburbs of New York City back to his hometown of Baudette in search of a quieter life. A recovering alcoholic, retired-U.S. Air Force pilot, and twice divorced, he “got tired of it all, and left. I’ve worked in -70º weather, but I love fishing where I live and being close to my family. I bought a four-bedroom house in the middle of town for $67,000. I’m happy, and I wouldn’t trade this for the world.” Looking out at an endless white-ice-meets-blue sky horizon, with no pollution, cars, or civilization as far as my eyes could see, this way of life that was totally foreign to me finally made sense.
Flip drove me out five miles on the ice to my six-person, heated shack and showed me the ropes of ice fishing in 30 minutes flat. Using minnows as bait (which, combined with the heat, make the 10'x5' shack stink towards the end of the day; I had to move the little buggers outside after a few hours), I dropped the line of my two-foot long jig down the predrilled hole about 12 feet and waited five minutes before my first bite. Using my bare hands—no reel—I simply pulled the line out of the water, and there was my fish. Although the walleye and sauger were small by big-game standards (the largest was 14 inches), I caught nearly two dozen fish in six hours—not bad.
The next morning it was time to head back to New York, which meant another fun-filled drive back to Warroad. Flip filled up the Oldsmobile with antifreeze (turns out, the car had none), and again, in total darkness (it doesn’t get light until about 8:00 a.m. that far north in mid-December), I drove. I still had no cellphone reception, wasn’t confident in the tin can that was my car, and had never been more excited to get back home. But as I pulled into the airport and left the car for Thompson, I felt like I’d accomplished something—something more than just catching fish. I’d visited and learned about people living in a world that I couldn’t have imagined existed before.
And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Sportsman’s Lodge ( (800) 862-8602. www.sportsmanslodgelow.com.
This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.