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Published: July 26th 2016
The Girl Who Eats Hearts…
We flew for 40 minutes to a small gravel beach near the mouth of the Union River that spills into an unnamed inlet of Cresswell Bay at the southern end of the upper part of Somerset Island. A few small and somewhat abandoned cabins were scattered along the otherwise untouched shore, and sea-ice reached to the horizon.
Aleeshek is an Inuit lady who married Ozzie (the Arctic Guru from Resolute), she came along to fish with us at this ultra-remote location. Aleeshek was born here in the fifties and grew up on the land hunting and gathering in what must have been amongst the harshest and inhospitable areas to live in. In her early childhood, the Canadian government of the time forced thousands of people into prefabricated communities in strategic geographic locations throughout the Canadian Arctic due to sovereignty concerns. Most of these forced-moves were not well received and the promise of a better life for many was not fulfilled.
I had the pleasure to fish for Arctic Char with her. She sat there with her smokes and caught fish after fish through a little hole in the ice – it was wonderful
to see her fillet the fish as she hauled them out of the water. She is an expert fisher.
I caught my quota of char and had a great time reeling them in on light fishing tackle – they put up quite the fight! I fished on the ice-edge by the estuary and within minutes, had my first bite.
Niki caught the largest fish, which was probably 15lbs (7Kg) or so - quite the monster, although, most of the fish were in the region of 10lbs (4.5 Kg) - quite large anyway! An amazing day of fishing!
We loaded our catch onto a Komatik (sled) and hauled it across the ice back to the beach, loaded the plane and flew back to camp.
Flying back over the island allowed us to see some of the rugged terrain of the interior – deep canyons and waterfalls scarred the bleak landscape. The views of the Cunningham River Valley were spectacular! Back at Camp.
We cleaned and filleted all of our catch and that gave us the chance to encourage Pipes (Pyper) to eat a raw char heart (with a bit of financial encouragement). She tore the
heart out and chewed it down and claimed to have enjoyed it. Her face said otherwise – but who knows. I ate some of the raw fish meat, so what’s the difference?
We had a surplus of fish heads after cleaning (and guts and tails for that matter)…
What to do?
We do live and work in polar bear country and carrying a firearm is mandatory on any field trip. We all need to keep up our shooting skills, so our targets were fish heads!
So much fun blasting char heads with a 12 gauge…
Bang! Boom! Splat!
After all the commotion at the makeshift firing range, a few of us decided that a nice run would be a fine way to end the day… We chose to run on part of the frozen Northwest Passage…
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