By Amanda Keszler
I’ve heard a few people say; “You should never forget where you came from.” When I hear this I can’t help but think about my Dad. He still tells us stories from “back in the day” when he started fishing and all the hard work and trying times that have come with his success today. Our family would not be so passionate and dedicated to fishing, hunting and the outdoors if it wasn’t for him and the one man who really started it all… my Grandpa.
It is with great sadness that we had to say good-bye to my Grandpa this past year. I remember camping trips to the Whiteshell over the summer break with him. He taught us how to be true outdoorsmen (and women) and I will never forget the times we shared together. There were never store-bought hotdog roasting sticks, you were taught how to find a good stick and use a knife to carve your own. Its things like that I still do today and will never forget. We would like to dedicate this article to him, and my dad Alex would like to share a few special memories.
By Alex Keszler
I remember the time at a very young age when I was introduced to fishing and the outdoors… what an awesome experience it was. Dad would take me and my siblings fishing every chance that he could. There were sleepless nights waiting for Dad to wake us in the morning when the sun was rising.
Things were quite different 50+ years ago compared to how they are today. We started out with a notched piece of wood on both ends with green carpenter line wrapped on to it that was the old handling method. It was crude but it really worked when we were taught how to fling it out there. I remember Dad hauling in many giant Pike fishing it with a bobber and a Perch on a big treble hook for bait. He would coach us on how long to let the fish run and when to run the other way to set the hook. My first master angler Pike I caught was in the Whiteshell and it weighed 22 lbs using this method. I also remember catching the odd walleye that Dad told us to always throw back. He said the fish with the sharp back fins didn’t taste as good as the Pike with the nice smooth back. To this day I still chuckle about his ways.
One day, Dad entered all of us in a fishing derby held in the Seven Sisters area. We actually brought along a couple of our friends and away we went in Dad’s 1962 baby-blue Pontiac Strato Chief. He was focused on winning and in his mind Pike were the target because he felt he had them figured out. Well, he was right! We won 3 or 4 of the top prizes and the grand prize was a 12 ft Exel fiberglass fishing boat. What an amazing weekend of fishing and coming home with a bunch of prizes and a boat was a bonus. This probably single-handedly sparked my interest in fishing competitively. Thanks Dad! Now that fishing out of a boat was introduced in our family, boy did the action pick up. We could now travel around and hunt for fish and that is exactly what Dad taught us to do. I remember going through Sturgeon Falls with a 6hp Viking on that 12 ft boat. It was scary but we made it. When the current was fast Dad would drop us off on shore to walk to the top of the falls and he would drive the boat through himself and pick us up on the top side.
We had awesome fishing throughout the Whiteshell; Dad was magical with his fishing wisdom and knowledge. He was really grooming us to understand the nature and habits of the fish which in turn educated us to be able to catch fish consistently. He did not just take us fishing, he taught us fishing. He was a small man in stature, but had a big heart and miles of wisdom beyond his years. He was probably one of the true pioneers in fishing in the province of Manitoba. Many people looked up to Dad and respected him.
Once we became old enough to drive we started to venture out on our own with a couple of friends fishing on the weekend. Well I don’t have to tell you what happens when you borrow stuff, you usually bring some of it back broken. We borrowed Dad’s tent and boat which was now upgraded to a 10hp. Boy did that thing fly! Here we go to the Whiteshell for a weekend of fun. My dad was coming up later with his friend in another boat to meet us up by Slave Falls. We were so excited to get out there first and get camp set up and impress Dad and to show him that we could camp and fish on our own. We arrived at our favorite little creek and set up camp pretty fast which enabled us to have more fishing time. The tent was up, sleeping bags rolled out and the rest of the stuff was put in the tent. Away we go fishing, caught a few, and then it started. First thing to break was one of Dad’s rods, and then it snowballed. Hit a rock with the motor and broke the shear pin. Oh boy we had some explaining to do. We had to paddle back to the creek to our camp. When we got in the creek something didn’t look right. Our tent… where is it? Wind must have blown it down. Nope, wait a minute, it’s not windy! We pulled on to shore and the tent was ripped apart by a Bear. Yep we put the cooler of food in the tent and the rest is history. When Dad showed up he was mad at first and then started to laugh. At this point he doesn’t know about the rod or the rock we hit. After a few minutes we filled him in and same reaction, mad then laughter. He took the prop off and made a shear pin from the broken solid fiberglass rod and we trolled our way back slowly and made it back to the launch. This was truly a trip to remember!
We were exposed to fishing and the outdoors at a young age. It was never forgotten and all that experience and tradition is still carried on in my family to this day. I am so grateful to Dad for all that he has done for me, educating me and pointing me in the right direction. He leaves us with a lifetime of stories and great memories!
My dad Laszlo Keszler passed away on April 14 this year. He was 88 years of age. Rest in peace Dad, you will always be around us and you will never be forgotten.
Please introduce your families and kids to the outdoors, the experience will change their lives and you will provide them with lifetime memories and traditions to carry on. Thanks to Hooked Magazine for letting us share our story, it is really special. Alex, Amanda and family.