Natalie was invited to join our friends for the July long weekend to spend four days at Lower Campbell lake. Her best pal Hanna was going to be there with her family. She was pretty excited. She left on Thursday night with them and I had the weekend to myself. What Natalie didn't know was that I planned to travel north and meet the friends at the lake and spend a night. Surprise.
Work was pretty slow this past week so I was fortunate to leave at noon of Friday. A couple of quick stops in town and I was able to leave. I had not been car camping in quite sometime. In the past couple of years it had been either hike in or bike camping. This was kind of a nice change of pace. I packed her little pink, 3 foot spinning rod in the car, along with mine and my big pack full of camping gear. As I rolled into Campbell River I stopped at the Riversportsman to buy Natalie a couple of lures and a small tackle box for her to pack around. The campsite is approximately 28 kilometers from the store and I was soon up General Hill and on the gravel. I was originally hoping that if I had Friday off of work I would have gone by bike. Getting a late start with iffy weather basically made the call for me. I think it was the right one. Rolling into camp at 8 pm would have been tough.
Natalie was not too sure about me when I got there. I think she was shocked, not as excited as was anticipated. She was probably hoping for independence from her parents, but tough luck. I gave her the tackle and rod. That lit her face like a beautiful light bulb. "Can we go fishing dad?" was the first thing out of her mouth. Down the trail we went with Hanna and Hanna's parents. I was head coach, leaving my rod in the car for this night. It was Natalie time. She picked up on casting right away (I cautiously crimped her barbs just in case of an accident) and was soon tossing the lure with pinpoint accuracy. She wanted a fish so bad. After a while she could see little sculpins darting about, chasing her rainbow spoon. And she accidentally foul hooked one in the belly! I got it off easy and her and Hanna each had a chance to look at it and hold it before we released it back into the lake.
They kept asking me if you can eat bullheads...
It was time for dinner so back to the site. As I was cooking my home made dehydrated soup, Natalie came running. "Dad I found a crawdad, on the beach!" I asked the kids to go catch it so I could cook it. Never tried it before, so what the heck. They brought it back and into the boiling pot it went. After several minutes its shell was a bright orangey, red. Just like a Dungeness crab. I peeled the tail and let the three hunters share it, and I tasted the claw meat. Not much on the critter. It was delicate meat. Almost exactly like crab or prawn. Shockingly tasty. I must create a trap for next time we visit the lake.
The next morning Natalie managed to snag three lures on the stumps of the lake. Lower Campbell is part of the impoundment that is for the John Hart generating station run by B.C. Hydro. It is a very large lake, and combined with John Hart, Upper Campbell and Buttle lake, comprise of the largest impounded lake system on Vancouver Island. The lakes are all huge and deep, but the shoreline and shoal areas are littered with stumps, deadheads and still standing submerged trees from 60 years ago when the surrounding forest was flooded. A wonderful place to loose tackle. Her and Hanna got their bathing suits on and retrieved all the lost tackle. That was really cool. In the end she did end up getting badly snagged on a stump and one lure stayed in the lake, but not bad for her first time fishing in years. I was very proud of her for wanting to keep practicing and having lots of fun, and the attention span. If only we had a boat.
Fishing on a rocky point.
We have made it to the halfway point of the adventures. It has been a lot of fun. To have dedicated time to spend with each other week in and week out is a blessing. This year will be something that her and I will remember forever. Thank you all for following along and cheering for us as we go. I am looking ahead for the next 26 and it should be lots more fun. Summer is just starting! Find Adventure.