Hook, line and sinker

MLAs get out on the land to meet fishing challenge



BAKER LAKE – It was March 28, the last day of sitting before the start of the spring session in Baker Lake, that Glenn McLean issued his challenge to MLAs.

“It is no secret that Baker Lake has some of the best sports fishing and hunting grounds. No one will be disappointed by their outdoors experience, regardless of how many fish they catch,” said McLean, the MLA for Baker Lake.

“I have heard a lot about the lack of fish in Baker Lake, and I challenge all the members of this assembly that I will catch the biggest fish, and whoever catches a bigger fish, I will pay them $100.”

And it was June 2, the first day of sitting in the gymnasium of Baker Lake’s Rachel Arngnammaktiq Elementary School, that McLean held up two crisp $100 bills to pay the winners, Iqaluit MLAs Ed Picco and Hunter Tootoo.

“Mr. McLean said if my fishing skills were hockey skills I would be playing hockey in the NHL with Jordin Tootoo,” Picco said in accepting his prize.

“I would like to thank my colleagues for allowing me to out-fish them again, and better luck next time.”

Though Picco and Tootoo could have used the cash to plan for their retirement (they both opted out of a controversial enriched MLA pension plan last year), they instead chose to give the money to volunteers who helped out during the fishing trip on June 1.

Tootoo was the first to get a bite, pulling in two successive Arctic char. But he threw the puny fish back, not knowing that was as lucky as he was going to get.

After Tootoo moved on, Premier Paul Okalik tried the hole and succeeded only in getting his hook caught on a rock.

The group, including members of the community and government staff, as well as hockey player Jordin Tootoo and his family, later tried their luck at the Twin Rivers site about an hour outside town.

Picco, the transplanted Newfoundlander, quickly found the fish, lining them up as he pulled them out of the water. By the end of the day, he had six, a mixture of char and trout.

But it was Jordin Tootoo’s sister Corrine, who pulled in the prize fish, a giant char that made Picco’s and Tootoo’s look scrawny by comparison.

And McLean, who spent much of the day in a secret fishing spot in the Twin Rivers area, didn’t even bother to show off his catch.

Perhaps he thought it better to simply shut up and pay up.

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