Excerpts from 1,250-word article

YELLOWKNIFE: ANGLING IN THE TERRITORIES

by Pam Hobbs

Our first day in the Northwest Territories unfolded as one to remember. Arriving from Vancouver around midday we wasted no time in setting off on foot to explore Yellowknife's old sector born of rich legends. And by late afternoon, a time we would ordinarily be taking a break before dinner, we reported to the visitor centre to embark on a seven-hour fishing expedition.

If compared to his polar-bear hunts and dog-sledding adventures, our fishing excursion seems pretty ho-hum, guide Carlos doesn't let on. His enthusiasm is such, we could have been heading off to the North Pole. He has come prepared for everything, with his friend Richard (also from Quebec), bug jackets, sun protection, fishing gear, food, Polaroid camera to shoot the "big one" and whatever else we could reasonably need or want. He speaks four languages. We opt for English with a French accent.

Unquestionably, we are in God's country, where noise is a bird's cry and the air so pure it is brittle. The rocky terrain - the trees, the overpowering sense of nature - is not so different from Northern Ontario. And yet it feels different. Maybe it is because the sun is still high well into the night. It could be the talk about Inuit legends, and age-old customs that continue here still. Or the knowledge that everyone, regardless of what first brought them here, lives so very close to the land....

The big fish aren't biting on our first night out, and I really don't mind. I am content to drift in silence, or listen to Carlos as he describes life in the North. (I do believe I could become hooked.)....

I could see plenty of large pike in the water swimming slowly past. Carlos says they are lethargic because the lake is barely thawed. Within a week they will be biting at anything coming their way......

Knowing that my catch would be returned to the lake with a gaping wound, I suddenly become a reluctant angler. So instead, we relax and enjoy simply being here. At one point, two black bears ambled along the lakeshore. Several very fat beavers swam by. Carlos imitates bird calls, often answered by winged creatures. A loon's sorrowful cry echoes across the lake.

About 8 o'clock we stop for supper on huge, flat rocks selected by Carlos, who has hidden a picnic table in nearby bushes. We gather twigs and he soon has a fire going. Real coffee is brewed. The silence is companionable as we stare out at the lake while Carlos cooks. Once in a while a native family paddles by and we exchange waves. To me, it seems slightly unreal that earlier in the day I had been in Vancouver.....