It seemed like we were driving straight uphill.
Suddenly, the car was burping and balking at the climb and we finally had to pull off the narrow gravel road, permitting a cloud of gritty dust to catch up with us and settle on every surface.
Dad raised the hood, tinkered a bit and let things cool off.
The rope holding the wooden boat on top of our vehicle had to be loosened since it was tied to the bumper.
It was a vapour lock, Dad said.
After awhile, he said it had cooled, so he dropped the hood back with a thunk, re-tied the boat he’d made in the basement for fishing, and we headed off uphill again, leaving a cloud of dust to hang in the air behind us.
I can still remember looking at the boards as they were soaking in my bathtub so Dad could form a curve for the bow of his new boat. I thought it was quite exciting to be able to do that to wood, but I wondered how would it float?
The boat did float, even carrying us, our sandwiches and gear and a noisy, smelly motor. Dad was known to call it various things as he pulled hard on a rope, making the floating boat lurch back and forth while I hung on for dear life.
In the mid-summer heat, we ground on up the dusty forest road, enclosed by towering, thick stands of evergreens, coated in grey dust, that were growing close on either side of the track until, quite suddenly, it became much brighter.
We levelled off to a view of bright yellow water lilies and flat, open water, surrounded by firs and pines, and a meadow bursting with wildflowers.
There were red paintbrush, yellow arnica, orange tiger lilies, white yarrow and blue lupines against a backdrop of deep green grass. I was in awe.
All was quiet except for a chorus of frogs and the chirp of birds. There weren’t the sounds of motors and machinery and people talking that was a constant background sound down in the city.
It felt peaceful.
Once the car stopped, Dad had a system for sliding the boat off the car, loading it up and dragging it to the water’s edge to launch it.
I had to struggle into a fat, bulky red lifejacket that made me feel like an oversized ladybug, and hop awkwardly into the boat, while Dad pushed us off.
I held tight to the seat.
There was a little production with the motor, after he’d used an oar to push us out of the floating waterlily pads with their yellow cups open to the sky—and then with a great roar, we were off.
It was a small motor, even though it made a lot of noise, and once it settled down, it putted as it pushed us slowly around the lake, while Dad got the rods out and attached the gear of the day.
I got a worm on a willow leaf troll, but Dad was good about putting it on for me. He used a fly, but not one of the pretty ones.
It was boring, just sitting there holding the rod, under the hot sun, as we putted round and round. I saw the occasional deer on shore and sometimes a fish came to the surface to tease us, but for a long time it seemed like we’d never catch one.
Then, I felt the most amazing thing. The rod I was holding had twitched, just like someone was trying to send me a message from deep below us.
I twitched back, then followed Dad’s instructions to lift the rod tip up to the sky to set the hook.
It was yanked back down and I nearly lost the rod into the depths of the lake.
Dad was not impressed at that.
I hung on to it for dear life after that and reeled in the line as well as I could, excited and scared at the same time. What might be on the end that was putting up so much resistance?
Finally, after what seemed like a century, there was a frenzied splashing quite near the boat and my fish tried to dive underneath us.
I hung onto the rod and Dad got a net ready and managed to manoeuvre it below my trout, finally lifting it high into the air.
I felt light-headed. I’d landed a fish.
As he flopped helplessly in the bottom of the boat, I wanted to pick him up and cuddle him, but Dad hit him over the head and the flopping stopped.
I felt kind of bad, but at the same time, I’d caught a fish, which was something Dad was always trying to do, so I felt very proud instead.
And, after we’d cleaned him, floured him and fried him up in some butter, I loved how fresh he tasted.
It felt pretty grand to be able to catch your own dinner and share it with your family.
It’s National Fishing Week, July 6 to 14, so why not take your favourite kid fishing?
Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.