October 15, 1926
Ingstad preps for the winter by catching 1500 fish in Moose Lake, 200 a day using 10 nets, for 8 dogs and 2 trappers to survive until the caribou arrived in the winter.
The Land of Feast and Famine - Log Cabin
Topics: (click to open)
There was good fishing right outside our door, but we needed a cache, or scaffold, from which we could hang what we caught so that it would be safe from thieving animals. Bears, wolves, wolverines, minks, and martens were constantly prowling about and they would make short work of any food left within reach of their claws.
We selected four trees and cut them off about ten feet from the ground. On top of these stumps we placed a framework of heavy timbers, across which, in turn, we put down a platform of logs with room enough between each to hang our fish in strings of ten. In one corner of the cache we built a little gabled storehouse covered with the canvas which we had ripped from one of the canoes. In it, as a measure of precaution, lest an accident should happen and our cabin burn down, we stored a part of our provisions. In it, too, we would store our supply of meat later on with the arrival of the caribou. The stumps which supported our cache were stripped of bark and carefully covered with tin. Now let the bear try his claws on that!
This done, we set to work fishing in earnest. Now was the proper time for it, these last few weeks before the waters should freeze. When fish are hung up to dry without first being cleaned, they have a pretty strong taste, but these do well enough for the dogs, who even seem to prefer their fish when they are slightly odoriferous. We needed several thousand fish, for we had eight dogs to keep over the winter, and it was uncertain when the caribou would come. Each dog was to be rationed two whitefish a day.
It was astonishing that in the course of a good day's fishing, even in such a shallow little pond as Moose Lake, our ten small nets would yield us as many as two hundred fish. Most of these were whitefish of maximum size, but occasionally there was a giant pike among them. It required time to fish, and the work was not always pleasant, especially when, on cold raw days, snowflakes floated in the air, and, out on the lake, we had to sit hauling in our catch with bare hands. But gradually our cache began to fill up with fish, and, with that, a sense of security began to take root in our minds. Before we were finished, we would have upwards of fifteen hundred fish, to say nothing of the several hundred we had cleaned and smoked for ourselves, so that we would have enough to keep the wolf from the door up until Christmas, at least, even were all else to fail.