Column: Curly and Red’s quest for Christmas dinner hits a snag

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

With Christmas fast approaching, Curly and Red Swenson, of Swedish descent, contemplated what would they prepare for a jolly old Christmas dinner.

Speaking to Bones McGee at the drug store and Doc Barlow, it was their tradition to have family over for a turkey dinner. Shorty Sherlock’s family always had Cornish game hens with wild rice.

Getting ready to fire up the old Chev truck and head out to Zipper Lip Lake to ice fish, Curly and Red called Ole Johanson, another Swede. He suggested they catch a large lake white fish, and they would have a lutefisk dinner at his house. Lutefisk is a traditional dinner in Sweden. Not lily white about fishing regulations and known to bend the law a few times, they weren’t worried about limits when they arrived at the lake. Seemed not many anglers around those parts sat down to read the regulations anyways. Long and lanky ol’ game warden GG Lawson had scheduled a patrol there that morning. On Zipper Lip you could catch kokanee, trout, burbot, but not retain lake whitefish. A large white fish was perfect for luda fish.

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As Curly remembered, in his childhood his mom would place the large fish in the bathtub. It was sprinkled with salt and lye. Next morning it was washed, dried, then placed in the oven to bake. Christmas dinner comprised of the lutefisk and mashed potatoes with creamed sauce. Setting up their ice holes close to one another, they began to fish with good results. Their spoons jigged a couple trout and a burbot, then Ole explained with a shout he had a really big white fish, as it plopped onto the ice. The guys laughed but said it’s full of eggs so put it back. Said it stuck to his hand! Ole was still determined to have his lutefisk for dinner.

Just then, in a swirl of snow dust, who should appear but ol’ GG himself: “Howdy boys, see ya had some luck.” Just then, Ole began to shriek, then buckle over in laughter. A fluttering motion began moving down his snow suit to his lower parts. “What you got there?” said G G. “A big banana!” yelled Ole as the thrashing and fluttering object in his suit now slowly slid out onto the ice.

“Praise be, it’s a miracle! Banana turned into a fish!” GG was already writing out a ticket, using Curly’s back to write on. The boys just stood looking at one another, all thinking the same.Truth, honour, duty and GG Lawson, as the white fish was place in the dry box and tagged. No lutefisk dinner for Ole but a $109 fine.

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