Written by Rosheen Tetzlaff for the Cautious Optimist: Danielle Moore Legacy Project

As a kid, my family frequented the lakes in northern Saskatchewan for the beautiful scenery and seemingly unlimited quantities of delicious fish. My dad knew how to do all of the hard parts of fishing, like picking the right lure, while my brothers and I sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the fun stuff. This summer I found myself back in Saskatchewan for a summer job in Prince Albert National Park. For my ‘Cautious Optimist’ blog, I wanted to reconnect with my roots and learn to fish again as an adult.

My coworkers/roommates/friends, Ash, Kelby, Ryan, and Amber and I made a grand plan to go out after work on a Friday. I bought some beef heart from the corner store because I remember my dad telling me that the fish loved it. We loaded up all of our gear and secured the canoes to the roof of the vehicles with enough ratchet straps until we were confident that we wouldn’t lose them on the highway. We kept our eye on the sky and hope in our hearts that the weather wouldn’t ruin our plans. All of the locals around here know that the Hanging Hearts Lakes are the best place in the park to catch walleye. My friend Daisy told me that the lake got its name because the Dene people hung the hearts of their victims after a war with the westward moving Cree.

It was windy and there were waves on the water but we were determined so we offloaded our canoes and set out. It took us thirty minutes to canoe to our destination and cast the first line. We paddled around the lake trying to find shelter from the wind. Ryan said that the best places to fish usually have “features” like rocks, reeds, or steep drop-offs because that’s where the fish like to hang out. I didn’t catch anything except weeds but one of the best things about fishing is the time that it gives you to chat with friends, think, and eat sunflower seeds.

Ash used a lure that looked like a small green fish and caught two walleye. One was too small so she threw it back, and the other was big enough for a meal. We kept the fish alive in a cooler filled with water in the boat. Back on shore Ryan took the hook out of the fish’s mouth and hit it in the head with a “wacker.” He said this was the most humane way for the fish to die, and less stress keeps a better flavour in the fish because it will release toxins when stressed out.

This past weekend Ash and her boyfriend filleted the fish, battered, and ate it for a delicious meal!

Thank you to Ash for her fishing skills, Kelby for her capable car, Ryan for his sweet canoe, and Amber for her sense of humour. This was a memorable trip in memory of our friend, Danielle Moore.

To learn more about The Cautious Optimist Legacy Project, visit: https://waterlution.org/the-cautious-optimist-danielle-moore-legacy-project/

Danielle Moore, The Cautious Optimist