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The study of fish

Chris Hunsley
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Mar 07/05) - When it comes to big-time news, government, violence, disasters and crime tend to steal the headlines, but if you're a 10-year-old, the most compelling story might be the catch of one whale of a whitefish.

NNSL photo/graphic

After fifth graders from Miss Bodnar's class saw a News/North photo of Sarah McLeod-Firth and her giant whitefish, they felt compelled to write a slew of letters to the editor, asking what, exactly, Firth did with such a big fish. Pictured here, Brandon DeBastien points to the photo in the paper. - Chris Hunsley/NNSL photo

After Miss Bodnar's fifth grade class at Sir Alexander Mackenzie school (SAMS) in Inuvik saw the picture "What a Catch" in the Feb. 7, issue of News North, the current events scholars went into letter-writing overdrive.

"How did she cook it?" each one wrote of the picture that showed Sarah McLeod-Firth and the too-big-to-fit-in-a-frying-pan whitefish, sent to her by her brother Victor Modeste of Tsiigehtchic.

"When did your brother catch it?" asked Bonnie Jacobson. "Did Modeste use a hook or net to catch the fish?" Dale Rogers wanted to know. "Are people bothering you to see the fish or share it with them?" Samantha Katoayak wrote.

"I was proud of that fish," Firth said of the now half-eaten catch when she was shown all the letters. "I showed it off to anybody that came by. My son-in-law is working down in Alberta and he's even spreading the story."

Firth has already cut 10 steaks - one and a half inches thick each - from the frozen fish and was kind enough to share the majority of them.

"I was kind of stingy though, so I just gave them one steak each," she joked.

Since she's always lived along rivers and lakes, fish has always been her favourite food, she said.

Some of her favourite dishes are barbecued fish, fish soup and fish patties, but those just weren't going to cut it for this specimen.

"I like my food boiled, too," she said. "So I just put it on simmer for 15 minutes each side."

Some Kraft Dinner or mashed potatoes made the perfect side, with fresh bannock and a good cup of tea. "It was delicious," she said.

Although no one has yet to bang her door down trying to get a look at the fish, several people have called asking that she send it to them, two from as far away as Edmonton.

"One was a friend I haven't heard from for 30 years."

As for how Victor caught such a huge fish, he pulled it up with a net just before the ice got too thick, she explained.

"And he's just a little guy. He told me 'The damn thing was so big it nearly pulled me in the river," she said with a laugh.