Some guys get it — others don’t when it comes to the importance of having male friends and staying socially connected during middle age.

And more importantly, there’s the need to schedule time for yourself – time to get away from the stresses of work, family and other personal crises.

Bill Hall is one guy who gets it.  Hall, 72,  is a retired engineer who once held a stressful, high-powered position at a local firm.  He said he began talking up the idea of fishing getaway with his buddies just after he turned 40.

“We kept saying to each other, ‘We ought to go on one of those Canadian fishing trips,’ ” he said. “This went on and on. We called it our once-in-a-lifetime trip. Finally, we just said, ‘We’re going to do it.’ ”

Hall noticed an ad in the back of a fishing magazine, made the call, and in 1979 convinced three of his friends to take a week-long trip to Opichawan Lake in a desolate northern region of Ontario Province.

He remembers the morning they left.  One of his friends had just been made a partner at the engineering firm where Hall worked and he had bought a new station wagon – the vehicle the foursome were planning to take on the trip.  Rushing around,  the friend accidentally dented the back of his new vehicle.

The guys were undaunted. “ We just said ‘Heck, we’re going fishing’ and left,’ ” Hall remembered

The four then drove 1,000 miles northward to a Canadian airport. They then flew more than 150 miles into the lake in a vintage, 1942 float plane.

The guys stayed a week.  Hall remembered the accommodations as being “crude.”  They stayed in tents and used an outhouse. The bugs were thick at times.  They brought all their own food, and used the fish they caught as their main course at dinners each night.

“We just had so much fun, ” Hall said.

At the end of the week, the float plane returned with the next group of guys – guys who were all in their 50s and 60s.

“We looked at these guys and vowed right there and then that we were going to keep going every year we possibly could,” he said.

Since that first year, the group has taken off a week each summer for more than 30 years, fishing more than 15 different Canadian lakes. One guy dropped out but others, including Hall’s brother and all the other men’s sons and nephews, have come along at one time or another.

Hall said he and one his buddies have talked “ numerous times about this trip being one of the best decisions we ever made in life.

“We get back to the relationships that were developed, the fact that here was something that would recharge our batteries each year,” he said. “It got us through all those horrible situations that life and the business world threw at us. It was something to lash onto.”

There’s a ton of memories. Memories like the first year when Hall and one buddy overturned their canoe in a fast, rapid-filled river. Memories of who landed the biggest walleye, northern pike, brook trout and lake trout. Memories of all  the evenings with fun-filled card games.

Hall takes charge and buys the food each year. Another buddy fillets all the fish they catch.  “It’s walleye, walleye and more walleye,” he laughed. “We eat like kings.”

Hall said there’s one important rule.

“Once we cross the Canadian border, we issue a stiff $10 fine for talking about work,” he said.

Hall said he and his buddies drink, but not to excess. They have a few beers each night before and after dinner.  He added that “the apricot brandy goes great with playing cards.”

As the years went by, Hall said, the accommodations got better.  They’re now staying each year in cabins with running, drinkable water.

The cost of all this? Hall said it’s surprisingly small. During the early years, each person paid an average of $600 to $800.  It’s since risen to about $1,200 to $1,400 – and that includes the cost of taking the float plane out and back.

Several years ago,  Hall started a custom-made rod busines.  Everyone who makes the trip gets one of his rods.

Hall said he can’t stress enough how this trip rejuvenates him each year and how it has improved his attitude toward life in general, making him a better husband and father.

In a little more than a month, Hall will be making his 32nd “once in lifetime fishing trip.

“This year, we’re going to Lake Clarkie,”  he said. “People have asked how far north we’ll be.  I tell them the last time we were there we dug 18 inches down in the soil and put our beer on top of the permafrost to cool it down.”

His advice for the guy who just can’t see himself doing something like this?

“Don’t wait. Just do it,”  Hall said.