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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)

TITLE: Fish 'n Chips, Anyone?
By Connie Dixon


Ever heard of East Barriere Lake? Neither had I but I spent a month there one week. It has been billed as: “the best kept secret” of the British Columbia interior. The only published facts about this enormous, undeveloped lake are: great fishing and pristine surroundings.

Mom and Dad were avid fishermen and campers, as were their friends. Every summer we would load up our 16’ aluminum trailer and head north – Mom, Dad my sister and me…….to somewhere, anywhere……often times in Canada.

This particular holiday was memorable. It took about eight hours to get from Spokane to Kamloops and then another hour or so to the foot of the lake at the end of Barriere Road. I remember driving into the campground and wondering, where is everybody? There was not another soul on site until we arrived with our camping comrades, Bud and Eileen. There was an empty beach, a boat ramp, a dock and nothing else. No - wait……a resort – a store! Yes!!! I wasn’t going mad. I thought we’d entered the Twilight Zone. Who could have imagined spending a week in the middle of nowhere on a lake with nothing to do but……fish? I ran up to the store and walked in……the bell on the old screen door bounced back and forth a couple of times, alerting the clerk, an old man in a khaki shirt with matching pants. A quick examination revealed nothing in this run-down shack but fishing lures and live bait. I’ve gone to hell and I didn’t even get a funeral.

The lake was crystal clear. There were a couple of cabins in sight, but other than a few secluded structures, all you could see for miles was pine trees and lake. Looking back, I should have recognized the heavenly beauty of this rare existence………but hey, I was a kid hoping for some summer excitement.

We “circled the wagons” and got all set up. I secretly hoped that all the camp sites would be filled before night fall, but the adults embraced the serenity of this exclusive haven.

My sister and I quickly realized that there was only one thing to do in this God-forsaken place……fish. So fish we did. The good news? We really didn’t mind fishing, just not for a whole week.

After a couple of days, we had four rainbow trout between the six of us; no one had caught anything much. We were trolling with night crawlers but the trout didn’t seem to be very hungry. Had we wanted to keep some majorly big squaw fish, we could have filled our refrigerators on the first day. Oh, those big ‘ol yellow things were nasty. Once on our lines, we’d have to drag them in, remove the hook and throw them back. I’m certain we caught a couple of them more than once.

The third day we’d been out an hour or so when I got a bite and realized it was another of those slimy, yellow creatures. I reeled it in. There was no fight, no spark……just dead weight. When I got it up to the boat, it jumped out of the water and flopped into my Dad’s net, leaving its nose on my hook. Dad took a second look at this monster and realized it was not a squaw fish, but a Ling Cod………and it was 5 pounds of ugly…………ugliest fish I’d ever seen in my life. Dad said “there’s no better eating fish than a Ling Cod.” I looked at that thing and vowed right then and there that it would never touch my lips. Dad threw it in the ice chest and we listened to it flop around all the way back to shore.

Because Dad was quite the outdoorsman, we were used to eating all kinds of wild game in those days. Mom served up venison, grouse, pheasant, salmon, trout………anything that Dad could glean from the wilderness. Having something like store-bought fish and chips was a real treat to us.

A couple of months after our Canadian expedition, Mom served up one of those rare fish and chip moments. This time it was better than ever. I couldn’t stop eating. Mom and Dad kept giving each other this “look” during the meal, but I was totally oblivious. Finally, I said to Mom, “this is the best fish and chips you have ever made.”

She looked back and with a twinkle in her eye and quipped, “Not bad for Ling Cod, eh?”

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This article has been read 686 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Bach 02/05/09
I learned more about fishing than I ever wanted to know. You had me right there at the water looking at the ugly thing. Such excellent writing. I'm in awe.
Margaret Gass02/05/09
I love the subtlety of your "month of fishing." I also liked the ending twist, which was foreshadowed by both your title and your vow.
Great job!
Chrissi Dunn02/06/09
I felt like I ws on the trip too - Great ending!
Sonya Leigh02/07/09
Made me laugh in more than one line, particularly the "I've gone to hell..." Great story telling here.
Jan Ackerson 02/09/09
Wonderful, authentic voice. I'm a big fan of dry humor, and this has got tons of it!
Gerald Shuler 02/09/09
Now that I know how ugly cod is, I understand why my mother had so much trouble get us kids to take cod liver oil when we needed it.

Very descriptive humor.
Diana Dart 02/09/09
Great voice and a boatload of info on fishing - yowsa! Nice twist at the end, ties it all in.
Karlene Jacobsen02/09/09
I could think of lots to do in the middle of no-where (but I'm a grown-up). That sounds like my kind of place. I loved the ending. I can imagine the MC's face when finding out they'd been eatin' the very stuff they swore would never touch their lips. (hehe-very good)
Catrina Bradley 02/09/09
I can so hear the teenage voice in this wonderful accounting. I loved the fishing stories. I've had the same thought about catching some fish more than once.

Just a note: in this passage: "After a couple of days, we had four rainbow trout between the six of us; no one had caught anything much. We were trolling with night crawlers but the trout didn’t seem to be very hungry." you can leave out "no one had caught anything much." No need to tell us - you've shown us with the preceding and following lines.

I really enjoyed this! And even tho I saw it coming, the ending made me smile. :)
Sharlyn Guthrie02/10/09
Despite the fact that I'm not into fishing, this was entertaining to read! I loved the teenage perspective throughout, and the ending is priceless.
Sharon Kane02/12/09
Our family is so not into fishing that on the rare occasions we take the boys we say, “We're going to drown some worms.” Nevertheless, this tale kept me reading. I loved the voice and the dry humour.
Gregory Kane03/09/09
This is really good writing but you already know that! I'm trying to think about how you could make it even better. I really got into the snide adolescent humour in the first half. But then the second half seemed to be one long descriptive passage leading up to the (predictable)punch line about the ugly fish. To be honest, the bait and lures section lost my interest a bit as I'm not a fisherman. But had it been me, I would have kept the cheeky comments flowing all the way through. Bless you. Gregory