Catch of the day: Irreplaceable memories recovered from Last Mountain Lake
Ice fishing is a favorite pastime for many people in Saskatchewan. But for Luc Lemoine, what started out as a relaxing day on the south side of Last Mountain Lake turned for the worse.
While fishing with his daughter and using an underwater camera to help his friend, Jason Matity, the unthinkable happened.
“I was adjusting the camera and I was looking at the shot and I bent over and of course the phone fell right out of my pocket and into the 8 or 10 inch hole we drilled that day. We turned the camera around and there it was at the bottom of the lake,” said Lemoine.
Twenty-seven feet at the bottom of the murky lake and deep in sediment.
“The sad thing is we could see it. We could see it on the underwater camera just sitting there,” added Matity.
While most people would just leave the phone and buy a new one, Lemoine was determined to retrieve it as the SD card had irreplaceable photos of his father who passed away from cancer last summer.
“My dad passed away in June and I took some pictures in May that I had on there that I really wanted back. I had some other things on there too and I wasn’t smart enough to back everything up,” said Lemoine.
For the next couple of hours, both Lemoine and Matity tried to hook the phone by its leather case using their fishing rods and their HD underwater cameras.
“If we can get a nice sharp hook and get into the leather, we might be able to snag it that way,” said Lemoine.
Unsuccessful, Lemoine and Matity had to pack it in and head home. They spent the next two days talking back and forth on the phone, trying to figure out what to do next.
“I went to the random hardware store and was thinking of different ideas and then I saw these black steel pipes that were threaded at the end,” Matity said.
“We had some duct tape on there to hold the camera on the actual pole itself so it was part MacGyver and part Red Green,” added Lemoine.
On New Year’s Day, in -30 degree windy weather, the pair went back to their ice fishing spot. Lemoine and Matity attached a scoop at the end of the pipe and extended the pipe into the fishing hole, connecting sections of it by hand, one by one until it reached the bottom. For the next 6 hours, they would try to get the phone, using precision, teamwork and three underwater HD cameras to be their eyes.
“I would just get it on the end of the scoop so I decided to bring it up and I’m about half way up…. And it falls off. Tumbles back to the bottom,” said Matity.
Just when they were beginning to lose hope, Lemoine had one more try in him and he made the catch of his life and he saved the last pictures of his late father fishing during the summer and pictures of his daughter out on the ski hill.
The phone was dead but the SD card survived after sitting in more than 3 days in ice cold water. Lemoine said he made sure to dry the card in a bag of rice before using the SD card.
“Persistence definitely paid off in this case. Both of us were like a dog with a bone, we just wouldn’t let it go.”
“I’ve been fortunate and blessed to catch a lot of big fish and various different species but to catch a phone and bring those memories back, that’s pretty powerful,” said Matity.
Lemoine says from now on, he will make sure to keep his phone safely zipped up in his pocket while ice fishing and he warns everyone to back up their phone.
He is happy that he has the photos of his last visit with his dad rather than it being just a memory.