Snagging Uugaq

About a month ago, when the channel had closed completely (see: Land Bridge, Sand Bridge), I was taking George for a walk as the barge unloaded stove oil (and other fuel?) for the winter.

As we got down to the beach, children of all ages were lined up with their fishing gear in hand. As we neared them, piles of fish were everywhere.

“What are you catching?” I asked.

“Uugaq.” They would reply.

“Tomcod,” someone translated.

They’d cast out their line and slowly reel it in while setting the hook every once in a while (or when they felt a fish). I had never snagged fish before and I didn’t even know what it consisted of. Fishing for me had involved bait and a lot of patience, sometimes a trolling motor.

One of the students was eager to share his fishing pole and help me learn and with the help of him and a coworker, I was taught how to snag tomcod.

Here were their instructions:

  • Cast as far as you can into the deeper part of the channel
  • Let it sink
  • Reel in slowly while setting the hook if you feel a tug
  • Repeat until you have a fish
  • Once you have a fish on the line walk backwards while reeling in quickly

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I almost snagged one on my first try. It was on the hook and I was reeling it in…and then it got away as we could see it nearing shore.

That night, after returning George home, I stood out there and took turns casting and trying my best to snag a fish as I watched people around me reel in more and more tomcod.

I was gifted a few fish that were laying unclaimed on the beach, we rinsed them off in the channel water and put them in a garbage bag, and I didn’t go home empty handed.

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The next afternoon, the day was beautiful and people were once again lining the banks of the channel. I heard a knock on my door and the same student was there asking if I wanted to go fishing.

I joined him shortly after and we took turns; catch one switch, catch one switch.

It was one of the best weekends, spending time outside and fishing. Something I don’t do nearly enough at home or here. It is always a treat to spend time letting someone else be the teacher and seeing students in an element where they feel successful and excited.

 

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