Eectations vs reality
Edward sorted his front forks problem
Dogs eating bones
50 mins journey each way
Delighted landlady with fish present.
Geoff humanitarian /Devine intervention
Our day started early. Alex our captain for our planned fishing adventure was picking us up at 8.00 am. Frank and David were first to rise at about 7.15 and promptly filled cups of boiling water from the kitchen for coffee and tea for the team.
Our car arrived a little early at 7.50 and Alex drove us the short but bumpy journey down to a boat house where the launch was waiting. It was a crude affair, only just enough room for the four of us, pilot and our baggage which consisted of hats sun glasses, food and water. We donned our life jackets for the short journey to the expected fishing boat.
The weather was good. It was dry and the sun promised to be warm as it was breaking through the early morning mist which was clearing over the still water revealing the high mountains. The snow still visible on some of the higher peaks.
Alex manoeuvred his craft a short distance before he opened up the Yamaha 40hp engine pointing it towards the open water of the northern end of Lake Baikal. Paul and David almost immediately regretted not wearing a second layer over their thin tee shirts but felt sure they would survive the 5 mins. Frank had a fleece and Geoff was almost invisible in his newly acquired combat hoody.
Unfortunately 5 minutes turned into 55 minutes and it was clear that this was the fishing vessel for the day.
We had expected something larger. Room to cast, shelter from the sun, a bar and toilet. It had also been rumoured that it may have been crewed by several females in crisp white cotton uniforms.
Our assumption that the rowing boat with an outboard was too small was however correct! David an Geoff were deposited on a uninhibited marshy coastline approx 1 mile from a series of wooden buildings which was Alex's base in this region of the lake.
The water at the north west corner is very shallow with much plant life to support a variety of fish. Geoff almost immediately decided that the best course of action was to paddle in the shallows fully clothed in order to get his spinner into some of the clearer water beyond the weeds. David remained on the shoreline but after catching nothing but weeds and being bitten by numerous insects decided to follow his fishing mentor for the day. Removed his boots and socks and waded out to waist depth.
The two of them remained there for approx. 3 hours unaware as to what had happened to Frank and Paul. Geoff only returned to the shore to remove his sodden pants, returning to the water in his underpants. David didn't even have a bite, Geoff hooked a small fish similar to the ones we had tried, smoked or salted. As he was about to deliver the killer blow the fish saw his brightly coloured underpants, giving it an adrenalin boost thus allowing to struggle from his uncertain grip back into the water.
Midday arrived and Frank and Paul (and the boat) arrived back to pick up Geoff and Dave. Much to Geoff and Dave's pleasure Paul had caught three fishes and Frank one!! We all set off in the boat for a different location. This time Frank and Paul were abandoned on a mosquito inhabited shore and Dave and Geoff with Alexander our captain set a course for " the Dogger Bank of Lake Baikal"in the boat.
Fish apparently are like buses, first none come, then three come together. Dave announces that he thinks he may have accidentally hooked a fish by mistake, Alex has hooked a 5 lbs Pike, and Geoff just gets a tug that unfortunately disappears. Alex deftly puts his hand into the water and carefully grasps his pike behind the gills. Into the boat and he quickly breaks the fishes neck and unhooked his fish.
Dave by now has reeled in his fish and can hardly contain his excitement when he sees a bigger pike on his line. There are a few varying estimates of how big this fish was in reality, but we are prepared to acknowledge it must have been about 8-10lbs and certainly was the largest catch of the day. Unfortunately in all the excitement Geoff somehow managed to only rake a photograph that contains about 30% of the fish.
It is possible however to just make out that it has a big grin and an ugly smile!!
When Alex eventually got the fish into the boat he had a hell of a time unhooking it, and had to kill it first before opening it's mouth with a large knife.
After a further hour or so with no more buses coming we went back to pick up Paul and Frank and discovered that Frank had caught a somewhat smaller pike, and Paul had hooked and lost two further fish.
The general consensus is however that Geoff performed the worst of any of the Rooski Riders in the fishing stakes.
We all returned to the wooden cabins with our catch and fishing tales. Alex started cutting potatoes and,de-scaling the smaller pike which he had caught. He gutted it, chopped into about six pieces and placed all including the head and tail into a large cauldron which was hung over an open wooden fire. Onion seasoning and 1/3 of a bottle of vodka were added.
A short time later it was served and the remains of the vodka bottle offered round. David and Frank felt that it would be impolite to refuse the liquid refreshment and duly finished the bottle. The fish chowder was obviously very good, we all ate it even after demolishing cheese, salami tomato and bread whilst this dish was being prepared. The fish was very fleshy, tasty if a little bony. Apparently it is a delicacy in Poland.
Once we had finished we waited for approximately 2 hours whilst Alex mended fishing nets. It gave us time to discuss the days events. David spent about an hour describing his heroic struggle with the enormous pike. We all agreed that the day had been enjoyable if perhaps over priced and that indeed David should be extremely proud of his titanic battle.
We eventually left our outdoor dining table, crammed into the boat and returned to Alex's boat house. He drove us back to our accommodation and we gave our land lady our catch. We cannot be sure if she is genuinely pleased.
Edward our fellow traveller had been busy. He had stripped and re-assembled his front fork leg, changed his tyres, brake pads and oil. Again he had been assisted by a local bike enthusiast who had helped but wanted no payment.
We had stated the previous evening that the tyres we had removed earlier in the week needed disposing of. Edward offered all but one tyre ( which we are going to carry as a spare) to the very generous mechanic. Hopefully he will make use of them.
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