Whelks and shades

St. An­thony Bight man finds friend’s miss­ing glasses with camera


What started out as a means of up­hold­ing a com­mu­nity tra­di­tion has turned into a story that Dean Patey will be telling for years to come.

As far back as the St. An­thony Bight man can re­mem­ber, mem­bers of the com­mu­nity would take to the ice dur­ing the win­ter and spring to set pots for a fresh feed of coocoos,” bet­ter known as whelk.

And as I was watch­ing it I could see plain as day a pair of glasses sit­ting on the bot­tom. Dean Patey

Es­sen­tially, res­i­dents cut holes in the ice so the baited pots can be low­ered to bot­tom.

“It’s just some­thing the peo­ple have been do­ing here since I was small boy, just get a cou­ple of pots out, catch enough to cook up a fresh feed and take them back up again,” he said.

On March 1, Patey and a friend were cut­ting through some 16 inches of ice, prep work for the five pots that would be low­ered the next day.

And as his friend was cut­ting out a hole with the “chumper” or ice chisel, a pair of pre­scrip­tion sun­glasses flicked off of his head a dis­ap­peared into one of the holes.

“The wa­ter was re­ally slushy so when it hap­pened it wasn’t some­thing that was no­ticed,” said Patey.

The next day the pots were set and af­ter soak­ing for the bet­ter part of the day, the two re­turned to haul the pots.

In the process, Patey, be­ing an avid GoPro user, tied the wa­ter­proof camera onto one of the lines to cap­ture the process.

Af­ter re­turn­ing home he re­viewed the footage.

“And as I was watch­ing it I could see plain as day a pair of glasses sit­ting on the bot­tom,” he said.

So I called up my buddy and sure enough his pre­scrip­tion glasses were miss­ing.

The next day the glasses were re­cov­ered thanks to a mag­net tied to the end of a stick.

Need­less to say, it’s some­thing that will cross Patey’s mind when­ever he’s about to set his next coocoo pot.


While record­ing the whelk fish­ing process, St. An­thony Bight fish­er­man Dean Patey in­ad­ver­tently found his friend’s pre­scrip­tion sun­glasses.

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