So Long Old Friend

It was recently announced that Wholesale Sports will be shutting its doors. I feel it is important that I pay my respects. 

When I was a kid, it was always exciting to come to the city because it meant we might go to wholesale sports. I can still remember the layout of that old store and how I would drool over the airguns. When the new location opened, I couldn’t believe how spacious it was. When I finally moved to the city for university I, of course, applied. I told the manager I was willing and able to work in any department. I was hired on in the camping section with the understanding that I would train and fill in for other departments when they needed it.

It was at that camping kiosk that I read my first Capstick book. That turned into a lifelong addiction to books on African hunting and exploration. It was from that old used rack that I bought my first deer rifle. I paid $450 for a used Ruger M77 in .243, I’ve still got the sale papers for it buried away in my safe. It was also that job that financed by trip to New Zealand and Fiji. When I got back from Fiji I had $0 in my account but I walked into the store and was given a job, at the gun counter this time. It was all those conversations with hunters over the years that made me decide to take up bear hunting. It was those Capstick books that convinced me to write about it, and it was a coworker who told me to send my story into Alberta Outdoorsmen. It ended up being my first published story. When I finished university I moved on to a job on an oil rig. It paid well but was short lived, I was laid off and Wholesale saved me again, this time with a job in their warehouse. That job helped keep Erin and me afloat until our wedding and trip to South America.

My first deer rifle

I don’t know what their reason for the shutdown was but I would speculate they placed the blame on outside competitors and overall market down turn in the face of Canada’s current recession. I also have some strong held beliefs that some things could have been done much better, but that is simply a byproduct of working on the ground floor of a company for nearly a decade… You get to see behind the curtain from time to time.

Wholesale has announced that their last day of business will be December 28, 2017 until then there will be a continuous clearance sale. So when we go to cash in on the sales and pick the flesh from the bones of the dead.. lets try to remember that this old relic of the past was once a hub of education for young hunters. It also helped more than one person become who they are today… for better or for worse.


Posted in Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Travelwith no comments yet.

Bass Fishing In Colombia

When Erin and I were packing for our trip I made a point of bringing my fly fishing gear. As I packed, I dreamt about catching piranha in the amazon and brown trout in Patagonia. Not once did bass cross my mind, maybe they should have.

 

While in Colombia, Erin and I went to Guatape the reason for our visit being La Piedra, essentially a very big rock that they made a staircase up the side of. The town is also near a very large man-made lake that flooded a town when they built a dam. When we were looking for a hostel I noticed one listed fishing as one of the nearby activities, obviously we booked with that one.

 

La Piedra

La Piedra

The day we arrived we decided to do the hike up the 700ish stairs to the top of the rock, which was conveniently across the road from our hostel. We slogged our way to the top and I’m told the views were amazing. I was not interested in going near the edge, or peeking over the railing. I hate heights, and don’t worry, Erin got a few pictures of me crawling around on the top right next to a three foot concrete railing.

The Stairs Up

The Stairs Up

Not A Fan Of Heights

Not A Fan Of Heights

View From The Top

View From The Top

The next day we walked the three kilometres into town, which involved crossing over a very shaky suspension bridge over the highway. The town wasn’t particularly exciting there were lots of people offering boat tours and a few stores selling fishing tackle, mostly small and expensive hard plastic fishing lures. That afternoon, after we got back to the hostel, I started asking about fishing. The lady running the hostel told me that the neighbour had a boat and would take people fishing for a small fee and the she had an old fishing rod Erin could borrow. I asked her what kind of fish the lake had in it and she said “trout I think, is there one called a rainbow?”. That evening, after the neighbour had returned home, her and I went over and she acted as a translator for me to hire the boatman. I was informed that the fishing seemed best between four pm and dark, about six pm. He said it would cost 40,000 pesos and he would pick Erin and I up at four the following day. That night I did a lot of research into how to catch rainbow trout in lakes.

Colombia Is Prone To Questionable Bridges

Colombia Is Prone To Questionable Bridges

In the morning, the hostel owner showed me the fishing rod she had for Erin. It was an old collapsible spin caster rod with the last quarter broken off of the end. The reel on it was dusty, dirty, grinding, and had about twenty feet of old sun damaged line on it. I stripped it down as far as I could and used some vegetable oil to lubricate the reel, that made a huge difference, but the rig still had a lot of problems. We walked into town again to see how much some fresh line would cost. Upon seeing the price, I decided that line would probably be too heavy for that rod and not cast well anyway.

I packed my fly gear, some snacks, and the borrowed rod into my backpack and at 3:30 we got a call that the boat was here to pick us up. We were told that he had a few other anglers out on the banks, one of whom was from Puerto Rico and spoke excellent english. As the boat headed out,  I started assembling my, nearly, top of the line Redington five piece fly rod, I looked at Erins shambled excuse of a rod and felt like a bit of a show off. I was also terrified by the realization that she will still likely out fish me like she always does. I expected that the boat driver would drop us off at on the shore and come back at dark, but I was mistaken.

All Of My Gear Before I Packed It

All Of My Gear Before I Packed It

Riding Out

Riding Out

We pulled up to the shore and a man with a Texas accent, and a bunch of fish on a rope, jumped on the boat and introduced himself. Turns out he was the Puerto Rican, or more accurately, a Texan who had lived in Puerto Rico. He was followed by a few Colombians. We started chatting and it turns out his girlfriend is from Colombia and the men with him were his in-laws. We started talking about the fishing and he informed us that the fish in the lake were actually large mouth bass, but everyone in town referred to them as trout. He said they resembled the bass from Florida and he guessed they were transplanted there after the dam was built and to his knowledge they were the only bass in Colombia. I don’t know where he got his information from but he seemed to know a lot about bass and told us he had done some tournament fishing back home. I believed him and he was kind enough to give me some tips. Also, in an amazing act of kindness, compassion, or maybe pity he saw Erin’s rod and promptly handed her his, stating “I have been fishing for five days straight, I need a break” she took the rod and he promptly opened a well deserved beer.

He explained to us where bass tend to hide, in the weeds, and where to cast, just beside the weeds. At first no one was seeming to catch much but finally Erin connected and the whole boat was a buzz. The little bass thrashed and skidded across the surface until Erin brought it in. The Texan grabbed it, took the hook out, we got a quick picture and then it was tossed on the string with the rest of the days catch. At a glance, I would say it was one of the bigger fish caught that day.

Erins Monster

Erins Monster

Everyone kept on fishing and chatting, I kept practicing my casting. A few other guys on the boat caught a few fish, and kept them all. Finally, in the crystal clear water, I watched a small bass swim up and take my chironomid fly. All at once it was on, I lifted the rod and set the hook, I started stripping line. I then realized how tiny the fish was, I could tell by the joking and cheering from everyone else in the boat. I hollered at the Texan “Get the net! Gonna need a bigger boat!”. I reeled the little guy in, grabbed the bottom lip, got a picture and tossed it back into the water to grow some more. It may have been small, but on a fly rod anything is exciting and you don’t have to even be catching fish to have fun fishing, so I’m still happy with it. We fished some more with very little success until finally it was just too dark.

My Minnow

My Minnow Sorry About The Blur, It’s The Only Way I Look Pretty

Sunset

Sunset

 

We started heading back in the pitch black night. I was marvelling at how well the boatman could navigate in the dark, when suddenly the boat stopped, then turned sharply. He said something in Spanish, the Texan laughed and replied, then told us the boatman took a wrong turn and was a little lost. That was comforting. We made it home with no further incident.

While we were fishing I noticed there wasn’t an abundance of plant life in the water and there didn’t appear to be much for the bass to eat. It was nice to be the only people we saw fishing on the lake and an amazing novelty to say I have bass fished in Colombia. I would be curious to see if it develops into a better fishery in the future. Maybe once aquatic plants can spread more and other aquatic species work their way in from rivers and become a food source for the sport fish. If not, its still a great place to spend and afternoon or two casting a rod.

 


Posted in Fishing, Travelwith no comments yet.

Brown Trout Fishing

For a few years now, I have been lugging my fly rod with me every time I go into the mountains. Once there, I do my best impression of a fisherman, and on rare occasion, catch a few fish. Erin and I are about to do some travelling, and I’ve decided that I want to bring my fly rod with me to try my luck at fishing in South America.  The southern parts of South America are famous for their trout fishing –  an opportunity that’s hard to pass up. The problem is that everything I know about fly fishing could only fill a small pamphlet. So, I decided to reach out. I mentioned on my Facebook page that I needed someone who knew a lot about fishing to take me out and actually show me. As luck would have it, my friend, and former co-worker, Eric was kind enough to offer his expertise. A few days after he had responded to my desperate plea on Facebook, a plan was hatched and in motion.

I met him on the south side of Edmonton and I jumped in his car. He them promptly made me swear on the fly tiers bible that I wouldn’t tell anyone the location of his fishing spot. He then blindfolded me and we hit the road. Ok, I made that last sentence up for dramatic effect, but he was serious about me not telling anyone about his spot. We drove for quite a while and finally found ourselves parked just off the road beside a nice slow moving creek. We dawned our waders and assembled our rods I stuffed the rest of my gear into the top half of my waders and tied on a small foam beetle that was handed to me. We wandered down the slick, grassy bank and finally got our boots wet.

We started working our way up river. The first while was mostly Eric explaining what I needed to know, and gauging where I was at as a fisherman. He explained to me some of the basics of where the trout like to hide – mostly underneath overhangs that like to catch hooks, and slow moving patches of water. He was also adamant that I should never let there be too much slack in the line. Eventually we made it far enough up river that there was space for both of us to fish. The first few hours of the day passed by uneventfully, mostly just me getting some much needed casting practice, and losing hooks on the back cast.

We came around a bend in the river, with calm slow moving water, and, suddenly, there was a gulp followed by a splash. Eric had the first fish of the day. He set the hook and lifted his rod, and that fish went insane. It skidded across the surface thrashing and splashing the entire way. I had no idea these little trout had that much fight in them. Eventually the trout was in the fisherman’s hands. Eric grinned and said, “See, beetles”.

I’m not sure how it happened, but he caught another fish almost immediately after the first. And another soon after that. Somewhere in the madness we started joking that it was “beetle-mania!”. A few more minutes passed, and we wandered and casted our way a few more meters upstream. We started throwing our beetles under some overhanging spruce trees. They had grown strong and tall but the ground had been washed out underneath, leaving what Eric said is a great place for trout to sit and wait for food. He wasn’t wrong. Within a few casts I had a good hit, but couldn’t set the hook. Soon my guide had a real fight on his hands, I could hear his reel whining. I started digging out my camera and walking towards him. This was clearly going to be a fish worth taking a photo of… based on the bend of his fishing rod and the grin on his face. While wading over I let my fly drift, and POW! A trout took it and spit it right out, another close call. I had too much slack in the line it seems. Eventually Eric’s fish was in his hands, and it was a beauty. I dont know much about brown trout, but it was the biggest one I’ve ever seen up close (given that I have 1 day of brown trout experience).

Biggest Fish of The Day

Biggest Fish of The Day

We kept working our way up river, all the while laughing about those silly foam beetles working so well. Just when I was least expecting, it finally happened. I was just wading along, minding my own business, when I felt that tug on the line. That rod tip pull that that inexplicably seems to have a hard-line to your chest. Words can’t quite describe. I lifted my rod tip immediately and set the hook. This time, I had the fish. I started stripping line in, and the fish started trying to prevent that. Eventually, I overpowered the brave little trout, but I never broke his spirit. As I reached to grab the leader to pull the little fish closer for inspection, it gave a wild thrash, a white flash, and made a dash. That’s right, I pulled it right in, and never managed to get a hand on it.

Oh well, I’m still counting it as a catch.

As we wandered up river, I started to pay more attention to the scenery, since it seemed the fish lost interest in biting.

Fixer Upper, but Good Location

Fixer Upper, but Good Location

The afternoon eventually arrived, and we had reached our exit from the river. We decided that we weren’t quite ready to quit, so we went a little past our intended exit… just in case there were hungry fish up that way. Sure enough, Eric caught another trout, just to make sure he established his fishing supremacy. In all fairness, he has been fishing for a long time, and wasn’t gloating about his success. In fact, he was quite humble about it, and continually answered questions and offered advice. I was happy to be under his tutelage.

We decided that enough of the day had passed, and we had better get back home. We climbed up the slick river bank, and walked back a kilometer or two over a grasshopper infested field and down the road. I’ve gotta say, walking on dry land with waders on is kind of unpleasant, and crossing through a barbed wire fence with a nine foot long fly rod while wearing ill fitting waders can certainly cause one to use creative language. It was still worth it. We found the car right where we left it, changed out of our gear, and headed for home, Eric having put in just another day on the water, and me, having, likely quadrupled my fly fishing knowledge… and only having caught one fish, almost.

The most important lesson I learned was to never let there be slack in the line, and to be quick to set the hook. Any hesitation can cost you a fish. I also learned that beetles work really well, at least on that particular day in that particular spot. If it’s anything like the kinds of fishing I’ve done, those beetle might never work again. That’s why I have a whole tackle box full of hooks that I might use again someday, or that used to work really well. I suspect that someday I will have a fly box with a similar story, but that’s part of the fun of fishing.

By the way, in case you were curious, here’s a picture of a foam beetle like the ones we were using.  This one was tied by my friend Clay, this pattern along with a great many more can be purchased through his website Frenzy Custom Flies. Hopefully it works as well for you as it did for us, but like anything fishing, no promises… other than it’ll be better than a day at work.

Foam Beetle


Posted in Fishingwith no comments yet.

Geraldine Lakes

To my knowledge, my future Canada Days are booked indefinitely, for Erin’s family’s reunions. To be fair, Erin’s August long weekends are also booked, forever, as my family get together. But this year, something strange happened, Erin’s family skipped the reunion, and I was now stuck with a stat holiday on a Wednesday. It was obvious that I only had one choice, book the Thursday and Friday off as well, and run as far away from the city as I could Maybe bring Erin with me. I have recently uploaded a video with some of the footage of the hike, here’s the link.

On Tuesday, Erin and I both came straight home from work and packed all of our camping gear and went to bed. After a sleepless insomnia kind of night, we got out of bed at 4:30 am. Erin started driving and I started sleeping. By about 9 am we were in Jasper, just in time for the visitors center to open so we could get fishing licenses and a back country permit.

We went in to the center and were helped by a very friendly older gentleman. We  told him our intent was to hike Geraldine Lakes and do some fishing. Immediately he warned us of the dangers of the hike, as did our guide book. The hike consists of several steep patches of climbing up boulders and rubble and if it is a wet season the rocks can become very slippery. The hike is not recommended for beginners. We heard this from multiple workers at the info center, books, and websites. I was glad they were looking out for hikers, but it was starting to sound like a broken record. We assured everyone that we were experience hikers and that we had sturdy boots and hiking poles – both of these items are worth their weight in gold when hiking. While there, I asked about the fishing in the lakes along the trail. The man helping us drew a blank, as evidenced by his deep-in-though stare into the distance, and said, “I’m not sure”.

He began asking his coworkers if anyone knew anything about the fishing in the multiple lakes along the trail. No one seemed to have a clue. Suddenly, an idea struck the man helping us! He wandered into the back and returned with a dusty old coiled binder that consisted of weathered pages that had clearly been photocopied long before I was born. Based on the font, the original had been typed before my parents were born. It was a book with maps of most of the lakes in the park as well as lists of which lakes had been stocked with what fish. He then explained that in the 1930s the tourist information center used to have a fish hatchery in the basement, and park workers would take the fish to stock the lakes. The Geraldine Lakes, it turns out, had been stocked with brook and cutthroat trout in the mid 1930s. No restocking or reports since then… I bought the licence and packed my fishing gear anyway.

We drove to the trail head, I was pretty excited when we turned off the main highway. I was led to believe that it would be a bit of a tricky “off-road trail”. I guess the guide book throws that term around pretty loosely. We finally reached the trail head and parked beside a lovely little hatchback that the owner had accidentally left the window down on. Erin and I changed into our hiking gear, put on some sunscreen, grabbed our hiking poles, and hit the trail. The first portion of the trail ran along the edge of the first lake and was relatively flat and treed in. Eventually we came out of the trees at the bottom of an old rock slide with a waterfall running alongside it. A quick scan of the area and the cairns at the top made it clear, it was time to climb. We slowly made our way up the first rock slide. Once at the top we wandered through some more trees. Eventually, the landscape opened up and we were standing on the edge of a small rocky valley, almost completely devoid of any vegetation. There was, however, a hoary marmot sunning himself on a rock and it clearly did not care that we were there. We opted to keep our distance anyway. We crossed the rocky valley which also took us across the stream that connects all of the Geraldine lakes. As we walked along a large pond that the stream created, I saw a lot of small fish rising and feeding. I was ecstatic to see this, any fisherman gets excited when he sees fish rising. More importantly, this meant that this pond that was part of the Geraldine lakes chain, but was too small to actually be a lake, had supported a trout population since the 1930s. This meant that the lake at our campsite would most likely also contain fish, and hopefully they were as hungry as these fish. I didn’t want to risk running out of daylight, and I was worried that the trail might get a lot harder. So we decided to keep hiking and fish the second Geraldine lake by our campsite, once we got set up.

First Geraldine Lake

First Geraldine Lake

Catching Some Rays

Catching Some Rays

The Pond Full of Hungry Fish

The Pond Full of Hungry Fish

We walked a narrow path around the pond which turned into a treed trail that followed the stream, It was around this time that the trail turned back into hopping boulders. On one stretch that consisted of apple sized gravel, Erin spotted a very large spider… and it had an egg sack on it. Naturally my first instinct was to kill it, preferably with fire. I then realized it could probably hold its own against me in hand to hand combat. Instead of getting violent, Erin and I just snapped a few photos and walked away. I did look over my shoulder a few times to make sure it wasn’t following us.

NNNOOOOOPPPPEEE

NNNOOOOOPPPPEEE

The forest we were walking through slowly turned to shrubs. We could now see the second waterfall, and our next climb. We decided to stop at a nice clearing by the stream and have a snack before attempting the climb, I would need the energy. For lunch we had Erin’s world famous boiled eggs. It was exactly what I was craving that day, which is lucky because it was the only lunch option anyway.

We Stopped Beside This Stream For Lunch

We Stopped Beside This Stream For Lunch

We came up to the waterfall and looked at the trail. It looked bad. To me, it looked almost straight up and covered in loose shale with patches of icy snow. Erin wasn’t even phased, but I was terrified. I hate heights, so I just started climbing. It soon became clear that I had been too short sighted, and accidentally ended up on a more difficult track. I slowly, and carefully, climbed across the incline back onto the trail and resumed climbing. Eventually I got almost to the top, then Erin pointed out that I had gone too far and had to climb down a bit and cross a patch of snow to get back on the trail. In my delirious and terrified state, I decided against climbing down and then across. Instead I would just shimmy my way in a straight line to the trail where Erin was now standing, and spectating. As soon as I changed directions I knocked a rock the size of a soccer ball loose. As I watched it tumble down the hill picking up speed and bouncing higher and higher off the ground I started to question my decision making skills. I had a seat and slowly slid my way across a patch of icy sun melted snow and inched my way toward Erin. I made it, but believe me there was no shortage of swearing.

Time To Climb

Time To Climb

Skidding Back Over, Eventually I'll Put My Camera Footage On Youtube

Skidding Back Over, Eventually I’ll Put My Camera Footage On Youtube

View From The Top

View From The Top

Just A Little More Bouldering To Get To The Top

Just A Little More Bouldering To Get To The Top

Finally we were there: Second Geraldine Lake. Now we just had to walk around it. It’s about 1 km of boulder hopping. Careful stepping and use of poles for support is both slow and exhausting. Interestingly, along the edge of the lake was a tin canoe that was chained and locked to a tree. My belief is that someone had flown it in, I simply cant imagine it being portaged in. The fact that someone had gone through the bother of bringing in a canoe gave me more faith that there were fish in this lake.

The Second Geraldine Lake

The Second Geraldine Lake

We finally hopped, braced, and crawled our way to the campsite. We set up our tent and hung our food up so the bears couldn’t get it. I then assembled my fly rod and headed for the shoreline, Erin decided to come along and keep me company while I fished. I quickly learned that the water was too cold to stand in, so I found a nice rock along the shore to stand on. I threw my first casts… and they were disastrous. It appears that over the winter, I had forgotten how to cast a fly rod. After an hour or two my casts were starting to get a little better.

At This Point I Was Just Practicing My Casting

At This Point I Was Just Practicing My Casting

A Nice Photo Erin Got

A Nice Photo Erin Got

I could see fish swimming in the lake, all about 3 inches long, but I couldn’t seem to get anyone interested in my hook. After some unsuccessful fishing, and a loss of patience on my part, we headed back to have some dinner. We ate some dehydrated meals I had previously made for a hunting trip that didn’t work out. While eating dinner we had a nice chat with two other hikers who had arrived while we were fishing. After dinner we decided we were tired enough for bed, so that was we did.

Just A River Running Through Our Kitchen

Just A River Running Through Our Kitchen

I Don't Like To Share Food With The Wildlife

I Don’t Like To Share Food With The Wildlife

It's My Blog, I'll Post Pictures Of Myself... Erin Says I'm Handsome..

It’s My Blog, I’ll Post Pictures Of Myself… Erin Says I’m Handsome..

The evening was a little cold, especially for Erin. She was so cocooned in her sleeping bag I wondered if I would wake up next to a butterfly. When morning came Erin thawed out fast. It was a little funny for me to see her struggle to emerge from her sleeping bag. I eventually drug myself out of bed and we had some oatmeal for breakfast. We then tore down camp and started heading out, I decided not to bother trying to fish the lake again there didn’t appear to be any action on it anyway. We worked our way across the boulder field we had crossed the day before and started working our way down the steep slope at the waterfall. Erin put my action camera on her head and told me to cross first. With a lot of shaky weight on my hiking poles, I finally made it across the patch of snow only to have Erin start throwing snowballs at me… at least shes got a sense of humor I guess. As I continued my cautious walk down, I heard a lot of shale move above me. I quickly turned to see Erin sitting on the side of the hill. My first though was that she started to slip so she sat down. I asked

“Is the camera still running?”

“Is that seriously your first question?”

“Well…. would you like me to throw snowballs at you? It helped me.”

“I’m not OK!”

“Oh crap, what happened?!”

She then explained that she lost her footing, and her knee twisted and took the brunt of the slid. Injured legs are bad, but they’re really bad on a hike, and they’re really really bad at the top of the first of two steep cliffs on a trail made of awkward sized boulders. She sat a moment, collected herself, and assessed how injured she was. Luckily, Erin is a lot tougher than the likes of you or me and she was able to stand up and keep moving. We made our way to the bottom of the hill and to the pond. I decided to stop and try some fishing, since the fish had been so active the day before. As I put my fishing rod together, we noticed another marmot had taken an interest in the trail mix Erin was snacking on. It kept disappearing into the rocks and re appearing a few feet closer. At its closest, it was probably only about six feet from Erin, at which point she noticed how big the claws on a marmot are and quickly stood up. The marmot, upon realizing Erin’s size, did a very impressive 180 and scrambled away, struggling to get traction on the smooth boulders.

Back Down By The Waterfall

Back Down By The Waterfall

Bigger Claws Than I Expected

Bigger Claws Than I Expected

"Get My Good Side"

“Get My Good Side”

It's Cute So It Gets Lots Of Pictures

It’s Cute So It Gets Lots Of Pictures

With the wildlife excitement behind us, I began fishing. All the while keeping an eye out for our friends return. I cast over and over and had multiple fish interested. I even had some biting my hook, but they were too small to actually be hooked.

Fishing The Pond

Fishing The Pond

Another Angle Of The Pond

Another Angle Of The Pond

Waterfall Between The Second Lake And The Pond

Waterfall Between The Second Lake And The Pond

Eventually we decided that we should probably move on and see if we could find a campsite near town for the night. We wandered down the last cliff and made our way to the trailhead.

Bonus Pic: We Found A Boulder Hanging Out Over The Last Waterfall

Bonus Pic: We Found A Boulder Hanging Out Over The Last Waterfall

At the end of the hike I was quite impressed with myself and my ability to jump along the boulders and my slowly growing ability to deal with heights. I was also glad to see that there were, in fact, fish in the lakes. Even if I didn’t have the skills to catch them.

We then headed to town to look for a campsite. Unfortunately every site was booked and the best we were offered was just a spot in an open field. I suggested we just do the 4 hour drive home and sleep in our own bed. Erin said she wanted to camp another night and that we should just go to a campsite near Hinton. So we compromised and went to a campsite near Hinton. It was nice, but expensive and there were a lot of kids running around making noise right beside our campsite. It was nice to have s’mores though, and after a back country hike sleeping on an air mattress, and using a real toilet is a real step up.

AT $45 a night they've got some sense of humor... or gall.

AT $45 a night they’ve got some sense of humor… or gall.

The next day Erin and I drove home, had showers, picked up her brother and drove north to meet her parents at Calling Lake. We spent the weekend relaxing on the beach and it was great.

 

 


Posted in Fishing, Hikingwith no comments yet.

Fishing in The Rain

Erin and I recently spent the weekend at her grandfathers house visiting and telling stories. Somewhere in the back and forth, he told me an old fishing story that spurred my memory. Here’s an old tale from when I was fresh out of high-school. 

 

One spring, near the beginning of my university career, I decided to go on a fishing trip with a friend from work named Trevor. It would actually be one of the first dedicated fishing trips of my adult life. The plan was to take my dad’s suburban, my brothers inflatable boat, a 9.5 hp motor, and a bunch of miscellaneous camping gear, most of which was borrowed. We loaded a borrowed cooler with food that was mostly prepped by Trevor’s mom.

Friday evening, we went north to my dad’s house outside of Athabasca, grabbed the boat, and decided on a lake. We debated a lake called Calling Lake, which is well known for its walleye, but in the end we decided on Rock Island Lake. It was closer and smaller, if I recall. On Saturday morning, we pulled up to the lake, made camp, assembled the boat, and quickly went out fishing. We were camped on the west side of the lake and decided to fish the south shore.

As soon as we got a line in the water, it started to rain. My goodness, did it rain. We were standing and fishing in a 10 foot rubber pontoon boat in the pouring rain with about 6 inches of water sloshing in the bottom. We tried casting and trolling without so much as a bite. At one point, one of us looked at the other and expressed “Fuck it! Fishin’!” We both shrugged our shoulders and threw another cast. We kept fishing, and CRACK! A flash of lightning, again we looked and each other and chuckled out our new catch phrase. Finally, the rain died down a bit and our fishing desperation came to a halt when the hunger took hold.

We pulled in to the camp site where it didn’t seem to be raining as hard anymore and changed into some dry clothes. We made some lunch and while cooking I looked out at the lake and noticed that the south side, where we had been fishing, was black skies and pouring rain, while the north side was clear sky and sunshine.

We decided to try the north side, with the train of thought that it couldn’t possibly be worse than the south, at the very least it would be less soggy. We headed along the shore line and found a nice patch of weeds and started casting. Within our first 10 casts we had caught our legal limit of pike and walleye. It was an absolute fishing frenzy. By the end of the afternoon we had both filled our quota for fish, and caught a few more that were even bigger than the ones we had previously decided to keep. Unfortunately we didn’t have a live well so we were stuck with the first fish we decided to keep. Oh well, there are worse things in life than too many fish.

We headed into camp and Trevor expertly filleted the fish. Filleting fish is one of those skills that I truly wish I had, but just don’t seem to be able to remember, or pull off effectively.  I guess I’ll keep practicing. We fried up the fish in a nice crispy batter, the best way to cook a fish if you ask me. We also fried up some cubed potatoes and cooked a can of beans. Aside from a some fish, the can of beans was my only contribution to the meal. It may have been the fresh fish, the fresh air, or the lingering effects of the morning’s hypothermia, but that meal is, to this day, one of the best I’ve ever eaten.

Good Thing It Wasn't a Fashion Show

Good Thing It Wasn’t a Fashion Show

We had a bit of a fire and then turned in for the night. That evening it got windy, rainy and cold. Very cold it seemed, and neither one of us had a sleeping bag worth a plug nickel. When we heard a break in the rain, we made a run for the suburban. We ran the engine and made good use of the heater for an hour or two while playing cards, then shut off the engine and listened to the radio for a bit. We slept the rest of the night in the suburban and went out fishing in the morning. We caught fish, but not like the previous afternoon, and to my memory, we didn’t bother keeping any.

Finally we decided we best be getting home. We packed up our camp and tore apart the boat. We loaded everything into the SUV. I jumped in and turned the key, only to hear that ever so disappointing click. That click that tells you that your battery is dead. That click that tells you “you aren’t going anywhere”. I grabbed my nearly dead cell phone and checked my signal – none. I looked around the campground and noticed that almost everyone else was gone. It was looking like we were walking to the highway to calling for help. We were two steps out of the campsite when an older gent with a fifth-wheel camper stopped and asked if we were in trouble. The looks on our faces may have tipped him off. I explained the situation and politely asked if he could give us a boost with is truck. He chuckled and said “no” then got out of his truck, dug through his tool box and grabbed one of those booster boxes… I was glad he was willing to help us, I just wish he didn’t have a sense of humour about it. We hooked it to the battery, fired up the truck, and headed back to civilization to begin unloading our gear.

Trevor and I don’t work together anymore and we don’t see each other much, but every time we do, one of us, without fail, chuckles and says “Fuck it! Fishin’!” I guess some jokes just stand the test of time.


Posted in Fishingwith no comments yet.

Bait Malfunction

I was recently at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Easter. Among the many stories told  was one that I had somewhat forgotten about. So I figured I may as well share it so you can laugh too.

My mother is an avid gardener, and to my knowledge has been for longer than I’ve been alive. One thing every gardener seems to be in agreement on is that earth worms are good to have in a garden. Earthworms also seem to prefer gardens to live in. My guess is that its because the soil is richer, softer and watered regularly. The down side to being an earthworm in a garden, is that fishermen (of all ages) know exactly where to find you. And they wont get in trouble for digging there, within reason.

My dad is an avid fisherman, and to my knowledge, has been for longer than I’ve been alive. One thing that most fishermen seem to be in agreement on, is that earth worms make good bait. They seem to work well and they are readily available. You can buy them. Or if you have a limited allowance and are saving up for more fishing lures, you can dig them up in your mothers garden. That is exactly what I used to do.

I remember one time in particular…

It was the day before we were to go out fishing. I grabbed an old wax paper cup. I remember it was white with a teal stripe on it… like they all seemed to have back then.

It was actually these cups that started my mother reminding me of this story. My aunt bought some for the Easter dinner and I commented how with wax paper cups, like they use in movie theaters and gas stations, will thin out and weaken when alcohol is put in them . If you have teenage kids, you can tell that there’s liquor in the cup because it will look like a napkin that has grease wiped on it. If you are a teenage kid, sorry buddy.

Anyway, back to the story.

I took this little disposable cup, and my plastic shovel, and I  dug. I dug all through the garden and a little around the flower bed. Much to everyone’s surprise, I managed to avoid destroying too much of the garden, a very punishable offence in my home. By the time I was done that cup was about as full of worms as it could get. I put just a little bit of wet dirt in with the worms and set the cup in the cup holder of the boat so I would have it handy the next day.

The next day appeared and we went to the lake. We got the boat in the water, and everything all set. It was now time to start fishing. I am comfortable assuming that my entire family was happy to relieve me of some of my bait. I dont actually recall sharing but that’s just how I am with my sharing nature. Eventually for one reason or another (probably because I was catching too many fish from that spot and everyone was getting jealous), I decided to move to a different spot on the boat, and take my miniature bait bucket with me. I grabbed the cup out of the holder and just as it centered over my lap the soggy paper bottom gave out. There I was with a lap full of crawling worms and mud. Naturally I wasn’t too phased and mostly interested in finding something new to put them in. My mother yelped and almost abandoned ship. My dad was also none too happy about the muddy mess in his boat, and probably considered throwing me and my bait overboard. Being devoid of another replacement container, I vaguely recall most of my hard earned bait going over the side… What can I say? I guess some people just don’t take fishing as seriously as I do.


Posted in Fishingwith no comments yet.

Canada Day Tradition

I firmly believe that every family should have one weekend a year where they all get together. My family has the Vermillion fair, and Erin’s has Canada day. I think its a great idea because then every year you know, all year, that you need that same weekend off, and you know not to make plans. I also think its important to see your family more often than Christmas.

As per the family tradition, the plan was for all of us to meet up at Lesser Slave Lake for some camping over Canada day weekend. Friday after Erin was done work, we packed the gear into the truck. I was amazed at how fast it had started raining and how hard it was raining all through this process. Needless to say I was starting to get a little grumpy, but we loaded up and headed out anyway. It was about a four hour drive, Erin somehow managed to do homework for most of that time, while I drove and watched for wildlife, we saw a cow moose and her calf.

We arrived at the campsite a few hours before sundown, up north sunset is about 11:30pm that time of year. The family rents 3 large cabins that are all attached together and share some wonderful lakefront real estate. From there a few family members stay in campers on the lot, Erin and I sported a lovely little tent we set up in an area with an excellent view. It still amazes me how easy it is to set up a modern tent, I remember when I was a kid my parents had those old tents in the garage which were essentially a mess of random poles and musty fabrics. After setting up the tent, we plopped ourselves down beside the fire for a spell and then retired to our fresh air, nylon chateau complete with a queen size air mattress.

The next morning I over slept, but that’s what camping is for. Shortly after I got up, someone came up with the plan for pretty much everyone, under the age of 30, to bike to town… for no particular reason. We had a real convoy of roughly 10 people from about age 8 to about age 25, on all type, age, and condition of bike. It must have been quite the sight, especially since, the one leading us most of the way was the youngest. While in town we stopped at a fast food joint and I bought everyone ice cream, I figured I could use the brownie points.

Upon arriving back at our campsite, we found that Erin’s parents had arrived, they intended to come the night before but were held up by the poor weather, as they were hauling a trailer and carrying a boat. They got set up and we got the boat in the water. I noticed that the strong winds coming off the lake were attempting to borrow my tent.  I moved it to a slightly more sheltered area and actually pegged it down this time. Instead of lifting up and curling, it was folding in… well at least it wasn’t going anywhere.

I'm Impressed That It Survived The Wind

I’m Impressed That It Survived The Wind

 

It was then decided that, despite the wind, Erin, her dad, and I should all go fishing. We grabbed our gear and loaded up the boat. At the last minute, Erin, in a moment of pure selflessness, gave up her spot in the boat to her young cousin who was itchin’ for some fishin’. Erin’s dad was happy to accommodate him. We loaded up and headed for the small island, named Dog Island, at the far side of the bay to look for walleye. We got out there, slapped on some hooks, did some trolling, and ate some chips. Erin’s cousin caught the first fish, a nice walleye, just barely big enough to keep. We decided to throw it back, since it was the first catch and surely we’d catch bigger (often famous last words). Erin’s dad was the next to catch a fish, a smallish pike, then he caught a small walleye. I managed to wrangle in a ok sized walleye and we decided to keep this one, for safety’s sake. Then it was Erin’s dad on again, then the young cousin… those two were out fishing me six ways from Sunday, but I was the only one with a keeper in the boat. Erin’s young cousin had something special take his line. After a spirited battle, he had at the edge of the boat a very nice walleye, certainly the biggest I would see all weekend. I reached over the side and grabbed the line to haul it in, with a great thrash from the fish, it, in one motion, both snapped the line and cut my finger, and just like that he was gone. Everyone was a little sad and I certainly felt some guilt over the loss, but at the end of the day at least we know there’s still at least one big fish in that lake. It was getting to be about supper time, so we headed back to shore. Another of Erin’s young cousins and her friend were mesmerized, and a little afraid of the fish. We could hear them giggling and screaming from where we left it hanging while we stowed away our fishing gear and rounded up filleting gear… ok so just a filleting knife and beer, but that still counts as “gear” if you ask me. I watched with fascination as the fish was cleaned with a level of skill that is only granted with time and experience. It was thrown in the refrigerator for later. We helped ourselves to some dinner, then we all sat around the campfire enjoying each others company until every person had reached their own idea of what the wee hours of the morning means.  There had originally been fireworks planned for that evening but we were informed they were to be delayed due to wind, and I could understand why.

The next day, Sunday, I overslept yet again, and nobody seemed to mind, maybe I’ll make that my tradition. It was far too windy for any kind of fishing that day, so some people opted to relax, others opted to go golfing. The rest of us went to a nearby hike. The hike was pleasant enough, though I could have lived without the mosquitoes. I was surprised to find that at the end of the hike there was a little lake that someone had somehow gotten a small rowboat into. Then there was what felt like a frenzy of photographs, and some cookies handed out… I thoroughly enjoyed the latter of the two. We then hiked out and headed back to camp. In the evening it rained quite hard which lead to two things. The first was a lot of me hurrying and panicking inside our cheap tent trying to get everything away from the edges to prevent any more water from coming in. The second thing the rain had instigated what was a rather sizable cribbage tournament, I had played before, but it was a long time ago. Erin and I played as a team and I feel that despite a lot of losses we played well and were close each time. The rain finally quit, and the cribbage tournament was over, and somehow the music got loud and everyone started dancing. I left at the first opportunity, on account of my two left feet, and found myself as part of a growing crowd by the fire. That day also ended just the way I like it, relaxing by the fire in good company.

On Monday, it was again windy but we opted to go fishing anyway, this time It was Erin, her dad, and myself in his boat, and then as many people as they could fit in her uncles boat. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 people, but I dont ever recall doing an official head count. The plan was for us all to catch some fish and have a great big fish fry for dinner. We battled some sizable waves to get to the island, but once there Erin and her dad started catching like it was going out of style. I, as any fisherman who isn’t catching tends to do, tested nearly every hook in my tackle box. In the end Erin had offered me a duplicate of the hook she was having such success with, reluctantly I accepted… and wouldn’t you know it, I caught a fish first cast. It always hurts to borrow a hook from someone because yours don’t work, but I’m pretty sure I bought that hook for her, so that makes me feel a little better.

I Feel No Shame In Being Out-Fished By The Walleye King Or His Daughter

I Feel No Shame In Being Out-Fished By The Walleye King Or His Daughter

 

After we hit our limits, we did a bit of “bonus fishing” beyond the wind block of the island, we did some of our best catching while drifting and rolling over the giant waves that only strong wind across a very big lake can create. Eventually we realized it was getting late in the day and headed in to meet up with the other boat and assess the results of our makeshift fishing derby.

Our Combined Total

Our Combined Total

 

If memory recalls, we had six walleye and one pike (not pictured). It was now up to Erin’s dad to fillet them, I think that’s worked its way into tradition over the years. I asked if I could help, since I really wanted to learn how to fillet fish, not surprisingly he agreed to let me assist him. We rounded up our knives and headed to the fish cleaning shack. He re-showed me the basics on the first fish, then we proceeded to start filleting. In a fury of swinging knives and flying fish parts we had made short work of our bounty, I worked as fast as I could but was only cleaning about one fish to his three… but I guess that’s the kind of speed experience affords you.

The Chandelier Really Makes The Cleaning Shack Look Fancy

The Chandelier Really Makes The Cleaning Shack Looks Fancy

Doing My Best

Doing My Best

We cleaned all the walleye, while each strategically avoiding the pike that neither of us had a clue how to fillet, until finally he caved and did his best to clean it. We returned to the cabins as heroes hearing many a “thanks for cleaning those” “wow, that was fast!” and “I cant believe how much fish that is”.

Shortly after our return everyone got to work filling the deep fryer with oil, making beer batter and preparing salads. This was going to be the kind of feast that wont soon be forgotten. I opted to stay out of the way and watch the deep frying process at work, while chatting with the expert cooks. The fish disappeared onto the plates of bystanders just as fast as it came out of the fryer, after almost everyone had dished up I was excited to grab my share… and then another share… followed by another… then a few more nibbles. What can I say? It was delicious and there was a lot of it. To my surprise I only found a single bone, and I know it was from that pike! I also inquired around and only about three other people admitted to finding a bone, not bad for my first time cleaning fish. After some sitting and digesting it had become rather late and it was now time for the Canada Day fireworks display put on by the campgrounds. We all wandered down to the beach to watch. Just before the fireworks started another family tradition took place… a very loud group rendition of our national anthem, which was met with a lot of cheering and applause all down the beach, and one gentleman replied with part of the tune from “Hockey Night In Canada” and of course we all applauded that guy. The fireworks display was impressive, bright, and very loud. Sunday ended much like Saturday, pleasant conversation around the campfire until one-by-one everyone found their way to sleep.

The next day everyone was up a little bit early, we needed to be out by 10. Erin and I packed up our gear and took down our tent, but left it out for a bit so it could dry. We then headed into the cabins where everyone was showing a great display of teamwork in cleaning all the cabins from top to bottom… especially bottom since the rain and sand had led to a lot of grit being left on the floors. Everybody got stowed away, acquiring help when needed and offering it when available. In what seemed like no time flat we were stowed away and pulling on to the highway leaving the weekend in our mirrors. All that was left now was to make the long drive home, unpack our vehicles, and to start looking forward to next year.


Posted in Fishingwith 2 comments.

My First Mountain Bike

If you don’t feel like getting the full story, click here to jump straight to the video on youtube.

 

Erin and I are slowly starting to plan a trip that will take us across (or maybe around?) South America. So currently this means me reading through the guide book trying to get a vague overview of where I would like to go. I’ve noticed a pattern, its seems that most South American towns offer; ruins, churches, mountain biking, and depending on proximity to water, surfing. I intend to see a lot of the ruins, some of the churches, and attempt to surf. Trust me, you’ll hear all about it on the blog. I also want to try mountain biking. I figure, since I live in a great part of the world for mountain biking, I may as well try my hand at learning it here so as to make it more fun when I go there. Also I Just wanted to start mountain biking, so I’m going to use the trip as an excuse to take it up. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there are no surfing opportunities in Alberta, so that’ll have to wait until I get there.

So I set off looking at various mountain bikes, their styles, and types of riding. I also watched a lot of youtube. When it was all said and done I walked into the local bike shop and asked for the cheapest model I could get away with. I had the option of grey or orange. I went with orange, and for about $600 I was out the door with a new bike and a helmet… always wear a helmet!

The first day I had it, a friend and I went for a ride in the Edmonton River Valley me on my new fancy bike and him on the old mountain bike I received as a birthday gift almost a decade ago.  I was quickly made aware that this bike was superior to any other  bikes I had owned, of course for that price it better be. I was also reminded that I am rather out of shape. After a few hours we decided to call it a day and head home. A few hours rest later, I decided to go out for another ride, this time to my dads shop for a visit, about half hour each way. Erin accompanied me since I am hesitant to ride on the roads.

First Day Out

First Day Out

For nearly a week I have been riding my bike every day, for about two hours a day. Often just to visit my dad but also a time or two to the river valley again, I was quite surprised at how many trails are actually down there.

End Of This Trail

End Of This Trail

 

Almost Looks Like We're Not In The Middle Of A City

Almost Looks Like We’re Not In The Middle Of A City

A few days ago my brother and I decided to go to my dad’s house for some fishing. I decided to bring my new mountain bike because there are a lot of quad trails around his house and I know at least one of them would be a lot of excitement on a mountain bike, especially for an amateur. So we loaded our fishing gear and my bike and headed off.

Only Way I Could Think Of That Wouldn't Scratch It

Only Way I Could Think Of That Wouldn’t Scratch It

 

The first day we were there I talked my dad and brother into giving me a ride to the top of the trail I had in mind, its just barely out of my riding distance. They had some audible doubts about how much fun it would be for me to ride it, and naturally had some suggestions “Buddy, you want us to build a jump at the bottom?” I wish they were kidding. I eventually got there, got the camera rolling, and hurled myself down the trail as best I could. I quickly learned that mountain biking is more fun than I had thought and also that mud is way harder to deal with than I had expected. If you watch you can see me almost crash on a few of the wet spots. You can see the video HERE on my youtube channel. I look forward to honing my skills and seeing more trails, then maybe once I’ve gotten better at it I can do another video of the run and see how much of a difference skill and experience make, my guess is a lot.

The next day was filled with fishing. My brother was on fire, catching more walleye than I had seen in the past year. I on the other hand was having an off day, and only wrangled in two small pike. I did however witness, the biggest pike I’ve seen in that lake, follow my hook through the crystal clear water. Unfortunately for me, he didn’t bite that floating hook and everyone else was on the other side of the boat. No catch and no witnesses means only one thing… I have to go back and catch it. No, I will not tell you where on the lake I spotted it, but dont worry I’ll post a lot of pictures when I get it. The only photo I managed to take on the second day of our trip to the lake was of my dad determining whether or not his cat likes the kayak.

I Guess The Cat Doesn't Like The Kayak

I Guess The Cat Doesn’t Like The Kayak

Shortly after this photo was taken the cat jumped off the kayak and swam the 10 feet to shore. This also adds to my theory that: the shortest distance between two points is a swimming cat.


Posted in Fishing, Mountain Biking, Videowith 2 comments.

Fishing Tales

Spring has sprung, and my fishing fever is in full swing. A few weeks ago Erin and I went out to the lake for some dock fishing. Dock fishing is one of my favorite things because its so simple, inexpensive, and hard to corrupt with money or technology. Unfortunately for us it seems it was a little to early in the season.

The weeds hadn’t grown in yet, so the fish had nowhere to hide out and wait for prey. I know, typical fisherman, making excuses. The whole day the only fish I saw was a little pike that followed my hook to the dock but never actually bit… I promise I’m not making this up.

Shortly after my fish sighting Erin’s rod had some bobbing, dragging, and resistance. It looked like weeds, or maybe a lazy fish. She reeled it in, and as it approached the surface it looked like she had caught some kind of snake.. After I was done having a mild heart attack I realized it was actually a bungee cord. Erin made the only catch of the day WHILE cleaning up the environment.

We later went out in the boat to try our luck on the open water, only to get caught in the rain and remain fish-less.

Only catch of the day

Only catch of the day

 

About a week later my brothers friend and I were fishing off of the same dock. Throughout the day, I had caught a few small pike, one resembled a pair of needle nose pliers and another a hammer handle – nothing I thought to take a photo of but it still feels good to catch fish no matter the size. Suddenly my fishing buddy felt something on the end of her rod and began an excited reel. The drag on that old rod was making a lot of noise, but there didn’t seem to be much action along the line. She got the hook to surface and I immediately began laughing hysterically.  She had managed to catch a heavy-rubber tarp strap. What the heck is going on with this lake?!

 

Yvonnes big catch

Yvonnes big catch

These two bizarre catches got me thinking. I haven’t caught a lot of strange stuff. I once brought up a  heavy branch that had a hook stuck in it. I still have that hook actually – not that it’s been much help.

I also once witnessed a woman have a yellow fan tail jig break off during a fight with a walleye. While my dad tied a new hook onto the line for her she used my dads rod with a similar hook. She managed to catch that same walleye again and get her hook back. I will never forget the sight of that fish coming toward the boat with a yellow fantail hanging out both sides of its mouth.

Years ago I watched my dad hook on a heavy spoon and drag it around under the boat to retrieve our fishing net that someone dropped (it may have been me but I dont fully recall).

Finally, Erin likes to tell of the time she caught an entire fishing rod and reel while out with her dad. He, being the handyman that he his, was able to take it apart, clean it, and still occasionally uses it.

I know its kind of dangerous, because this is the internet, and fishing stories already have a tendency to be embellished (also because I have about 6 readers… HI MOM!), but I’d like to hear your weird fishing tales.

So, what’s the strangest thing you’ve caught?


Posted in Fishingwith 2 comments.

Vancouver

I had just finished school and decided it was time to move on from my retail job all at the same time. I sometimes look back on both of these ending as a rather unfortunate state of affairs and generally regard them as poor decision making on my part. However the past has past and will remain in that state and I must always remember that remembered time is vastly different from actual time. Hence the common action of looking at the past with rose coloured glasses. It was luck, coincidence, and a touch of planning that resulted in Erin getting back from her two month trek  across Central America and as luck would have its she didn’t start her new job for another few weeks. She has always been the type to plan ahead that way, I on the other hand had no real plan for employment, again… kind of regard that as a poor decision on my part. We decided that this was about the best chance we were going to get to go on a trip together for a very long time so it was settled and done. We would drive my recently acquired truck, full of gear, to the west coast and enjoy ourselves.

We set out early in the morning and thoroughly enjoyed our scenic drive. We spent the first night in Banff. I had awoke to find that when I had done an oil change on my truck before the trip I hadn’t quite tightened my drain plug on enough. As beautiful of a town as Banff is, it is amazingly difficult to find a wrench in that town. We eventually found a hardware store and I climbed under and snugged things up so we could resume our trip. Along the way we made a brief stop at the Revelstoke Railway Museum, which I highly recommend.

Sweet rig at the train museum

Sweet rig at the train museum

We arrived in Vancouver, this had been my first time visiting, and my ever so handy GPS device led us to our hotel via Hastings road, the poorest postal code in the country. Sadly in reflection of my character I was nervous that our hotel was in the area, in hind sight I worry that being afraid of the down trodden makes me a part of the problem. Luckily for my nervous and poor character, our hotel was a touch outside of the area. We promptly checked in and I did my best to park in the unfortunately congested city, I was then showed where the hotels rear parking lot was. We promptly checked into our wildly inexpensive hotel, did our best to ignore the smell and went to bed. I should clarify that the hotel wasn’t that bad, it was just a budget hotel, with a kitchenette, that smelled kind of like someone else’s cooking.

The next day we opted to take the local transportation rather than have me attempt to drive. Our travels found us at a place that I was excited to see and had only hear rumor of for many years: The Museum of Anthropology. It was everything I ever thought it would be. We then took in the city for a few more days including a delightful visit to an old friend of ours who had recently taken a job promotion which required him to relocate to a rather suave apartment in downtown Vancouver, I got the impression it wasn’t exactly against his will that he moved there.

Museum of anthropology

Museum of anthropology

 

Outdoor exhibit

Outdoor exhibit

Vancouver

I’m not much for the city but it sure is pretty

It was during the next day that Erin began to notice the big city life was starting to take its toll on me. I firmly believe that people should not be crowded in as close as they tend to be in cities and I find it makes me a bit edgy and claustrophobic. Erin, light of my life that she is, came up with an award winning idea, we should make use of the “just in case” camping gear crammed into the vehicle. So we pulled up stakes and caught a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

We spent our first night, on the island, in a very quaint house that had been converted into hostel it was homey and cozy my only complaint would be that the bed was barely a twin size and creaked at an unreasonable volume every time I would move and calling me a fidgety sleeper is certainly an understatement.

After checking in we set off to make our travel plans. We began where many adventures begin, at the local sporting goods store. It was actually the local branch of the store I had just ceased to be an employee of. Naturally I enquired if my employee discount was still valid, it was not. I then proceeded to pick the brain of the local fishing counter gents as I had recently purchased a fly rod and was itching to try it out. One of them jumped at the chance to help us and immediately named off several useful flies by name, as well as a few useful lures for the small spin caster rod I was going to buy for Erin. To his expert knowledge I replied with a blank stare, I had never heard of these hooks before. Bless him and his patience he walked me around the store showing me what I needed, Erin and I then asked about good local camping spots and it was decided we should go to Cowichan River to camp.

After another long night of me attempting not to move and create a bed creek that sounded like cats fighting over a coyote call, we set off to our campsite. Again the drive was wonderful and scenic and naturally I got a little lost trying to find it. We eventually found it and set up our tent. We then set off to the edge of the river and began casting our new gear. My casting skill was certainly… lacking. After standing in the icy water and not catching much I considered the possibility the spot was not the best for fishing.

Me doing an impression of a fly fisherman

Me doing an impression of a fly fisherman

It was then agreed that we should drive off to the nearby lake to try out our recently purchased inflatable kayak. Again I managed to get us frustratingly lost but Erin with her perseverance and patience, the kind required to date a man like me, got us to location. We unloaded all the fishing gear that was on top of the rolled up kayak and began attempting to build and inflate it. It is worth mentioning that it did not come with instructions and those things are surprisingly complex. After a lot of time confused we noticed a few rather large cuts along the side that prevented inflation, I presume a packing error in the plant. So with sadness in our hearts we packed it back into the truck and drove to the camp site for dinner, liquor, and roasted marshmallows. Which are pretty much all anyone needs at the end of a difficult day.

 

Erin making a gourmet dinner

Erin making a gourmet dinner

After dinner I excused myself to the washroom on the other side of the camp site. On the way back I sparked up a conversation with two of the campground’s staff members who were cleaning up debris on another campsite. I have a habit of talking to strangers, but don’t worry, I developed this habit as an adult. As with most of my conversations it eventually led around to my love of fishing and eventually me asking them if they had any suggestions for where I should fish. They told me of a great spot within 50 yards of where I had been fishing before. The catch is that those 50 yards were composed of a rather cold, deep, and fast running river. Lucky for me they gave me directions to the spot that involved a bridge.

Late that night I awoke from a dead sleep and shot up in my sleeping bag to ask Erin if she had put her fishing rod back in the truck after we had failed to construct the kayak. We then promptly searched the truck and found it was not there. I could picture it in my head clearly. We…ok I… had left it leaning gently against a short wooden post at the lake, I blame our grief over the premature death of our kayak for our forgetful behavior.

The next morning we drove to the lake to retrieve our lost fishing rod, of course it was nowhere to be found. Some lucky individual had just found themselves a beautiful fishing rod with less than half a dozen casts on it, my only hopes are that they needed it and made good use of it.

We then drove to the trailhead of our fishing spot. I packed the essentials in my big orange backpack: camera, fly rod, fly reel, flies, chest waders, snacks, water, and beer… Erin also made sure I brought sunscreen. We then set off on our voyage through the pines. It was a beautiful mossy path filled with thick trunked trees.

Big downed tree on the trail

Big downed tree on the trail

We found the fishing spot, a little gravel island with rushing water on one side and a nearly stagnant, deep, crystal clear pool on the other. We walked atop mossy logs and muddy ledges to get around to a fallen tree that led us to the island our own little piece of paradise. Erin promptly lied down a towel and relaxed in the sun while I did my best to cast my fly rod. It wasn’t pretty but the hook was landing away from me and some days that is all it takes to feel good. Erin took a brief break from relaxing to put on my oversized waders and try her hand at fly fishing. Her first casts were certainly better than my first casts, but in the end she decided to just lay back and soak up some sun. Most of the morning went on like this occasionally interrupted by a sip of beer, or our staring at a nearby family of otters.

 

My best angle

My best angle

Erin showing me how its done

Erin showing me how its done

 

Family of otters

Family of otters

 

No fish were caught until later in the day when I opted to remove the waiters and stand on the far side of the 20 meter island away from Erin. She was fast asleep camera in her hands when I watched my fly sink into a deep pocket of water and my rod bounced excitedly at the tip. I began pulling in line and almost died of laughter when I pulled out a fish the size of my index finger. I called to my companion to come get a picture, but between the water flowing and her snoring I doubted she could hear me. I began walking towards her barefoot on the gravel. I quickly realized that at that pace both, the fish and I would expire before I got to her. So I released my miniature catch without ever having photo evidence of it. I resumed casting optimistically in the same location and sure enough my rod bounced with excitement again and I pulled out an absolute monster this one was nearly the size of my middle finger. In my laughing shame I carefully placed the fish in the water and slowly walked back to Erin with the awkward hilarious mosey that only walking barefoot on gravel can provide. I told my recently awakened partner all about the pair of monster fish I had caught. We then decided that we best start heading back to camp and start to prepare for the long drive home the next day. The drive home was just as wonderful and scenic but that being said I still opted to let Erin drive while I slept. It was a wonderful trip and I would do it again any day but it was certainly nice to be home.


Posted in Fishing, Travelwith no comments yet.