On A Jig And A Prayer

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors


Jan. 19, 2005

On A Jig And A Prayer

Father Mariusz Zajak, a Roman Catholic Priest from Nipawin, Saskatchewan, says it’s not unusual for him to recite liturgies while partaking in his favorite pastime, fishing on Canada’s Tobin Lake. But Fr. Zajak is convinced his praying of “The Magnificat” coincided with his hooking and landing the new provincial record walleye on January 4 when he was ice fishing. Also this week, you’ll read about America’s Top Dog, an unusual punishment given to an admitted salmon poacher, and more!


J.R. Absher

A Fisher Of Fish

Parishioners in Nipawin, Carrot River and Choiceland, Saskatchewan, are never surprised to hear Father Mariusz Zajak make a reference to his love of fishing in a sermon or during a private conversation. It’s well known among Catholics here that Fr. Zajak, who was born in Poland, loves to spend his spare time fishing on Tobin Lake, where he has a cabin.


“My family says I was born with a fishing rod in my hands,” the 43-year-old priest said in an article appearing in the Nipawin Journal. “I always pray when I fish,” he said. “Including the times when my brother priest and I are fishing in Poland. We’ll sing and praise the Lord and sing The Magnificat when we catch a fish.”


The Magnificat (in Latin it means magnifies), also called the Canticle of Mary, is recorded in the Gospel of Luke. It is the Virgin Mary’s joyous prayer in response to the Angel Gabriel’s annunciation to her that she will become the mother of the Son of God.

Indeed, it was that precise Bible passage the priest recalled he was reciting last week when he received “the nibble” when he was ice fishing. His subsequent, divinely inspirational catch was an 18.30-pound walleye — the new Saskatchewan record for the species.


Fr. Zajak and his monster walleye.

For the record, Fr. Zajak’s winning combination — jig and prayer — was a diamond spinner and Luke 1:46-55. The new provincial record had a girth of 22.5 inches and measured 36.5 inches. The previous Saskatchewan record walleye, at 18.06 pounds, was caught and released on Tobin Lake in 1997.


No Fishing Or Eating

Also on the subject of angling north of the border, a Canadian judge handed down a rather unusual sentence last week to an angler from Newfoundland who pleaded guilty to illegal catching and possession of salmon.


Judge Donald Luther not only banned Carl English from sportfishing on the province’s inland waters for three years, but probationary terms also prohibit the habitual poacher from eating Atlantic salmon for the same period of time.


English, a 24-year-old truck driver, was also fined $3,700.


“I can understand me not allowed being around a river or be in possession of salmon, but if I go into a restaurant and order a meal, I can’t see it being a breach of my probation,” English told the National Post newspaper.


Law professor Alan Young said he is not familiar with any legal precedent that would allow the state to interfere with a person’s right to choose what to eat as part of a legal punishment.


“You can get some pretty weird conditions in probation orders,” Young said.


Top Dog

For the 15th consecutive year, the Labrador retriever is the most popular purebred dog in the U.S., according to registration figures released last week by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Nearly three times as many Labs were registered in 2004 than any other breed.


Golden retrievers placed second behind the Lab, followed by German shepherds, beagles, and Yorkshire terriers. In 2004, the German Shepherd reclaimed third place by displacing the beagle, which held that position in 2003.


AKC registration figures for 2004 are as follows:


1. Labrador Retriever (146,692)


2. Golden Retriever (52,550)


3. German Shepherd (46,046)


4. Beagle (44,555)


5. Yorkshire Terrier (43,522)


6. Dachshund (40,770)


7. Boxer (37,741)


8. Poodle (32,671)


9. Shih Tzu (28,958)


10. Chihuahua (24,850)


Generous Hunters

Wisconsin hunters set a new record this year while providing venison for needy families and food pantries across the state.


According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, hunters donated a record 10,938 deer, which equates to roughly a half-million (500,000) pounds of venison.


Last year, 6,771 deer were given to the program. The previous record for donations, 7,765 deer, occurred in its inaugural year, 2000.


The DNR pays meat-processing shops about $50 for each deer used in the donation program. The program is funded by a $1 surcharge on all Wisconsin hunting licenses.


A total of 53 counties and 121 butcher shops participated in the program this year.


Quote Of The Week

“At first you feel you have no chance at all, for a big tarpon in the air is not like other fish. It is a gleaming, twisting thing, somehow showing that it is a living fossil coming down through the millions of years to seize a tiny fly that represents really nothing in particular.”

-Charles F. (Charley) Waterman

“The Tarpon Thing”

“Gray’s Sporting Journal,” February, 1993

(Mr. Waterman passed away January 12, 2005 at the age of 91.)


J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web sites, The Outdoor Pressroom (www.outdoorpressroom.com and The Outdoor Weblog www.outdoorweblog.com ) to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at [email protected]

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