Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)
TITLE: Fish 'n Chips, Anyone?
By Connie Dixon
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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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