my fish story

Published by Victor Barr on

Every fisherman has a good fish story. Of course mine involves the one that got away.

Ever since I was seven years old I went to a campground on Kootenay Lake. Nine miles north of Kaslo BC is a special place called Schroeder Creek Resort. Schroeder Creek will always own a piece of my heart and a part of my soul. It was the one thing that always brought my dad and I together. Some of my youngest memories are of fishing with my dad. I will always cherish those times together.

Dad went to Schroeder Creek for over thirty-four years in a row. I only missed a couple of years from 1977 until 2013. We fished together and he taught me to waterski. I would ski behind the boat when we would go to the north end of the lake to go after the bigger fish. it was a nine mile ski, oh to be sixteen again. I loved those times together. The pure connection we had and the joy we shared silently watching the lake go by.

As the years went by Dad got older and it became more of a challenge for him to tow his fifth wheel trailer out to Kaslo. He would go and stay there every year for a month at a stretch. One day he knew it was time to sell the trailer and the boat. That was a sad day for him and for me as well. I had moved to West Kelowna and we decided to do a trip to Shroeder Creek in our camper and take him fishing on my boat.

Schroeder Creek is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in my known world. The sun breaks over the Selkirk mountains that tower over the lake and it is one of my favourite places to be. Witnessing the sun peek over the top of the untouched peaks uplifts my soul. I was getting up at six every day, to go fishing on the water first thing in the morning.

My Dad was having trouble sleeping. I would go without him and be back for breakfast at nine when the rest of the campsite was waking up. My Daughter, my wife, and Dad’s lady friend Frankie would all be just getting up when I returned.

With a couple of days left in our trip Dad said he wanted to come with me in the morning.

The next morning I awoke early and opened the camper door. I didn’t want to wake Frankie so I called quietly for my Dad.. He didn’t answer. I went and made coffee and got ready to go. I opened the door and called again. Silence. I will always regret my next decision. I left on the boat without my Dad.

I raced across the lake and went to my favourite fishing spot. The glow of the sun peeking over the mountain disappeared as I cruised towards my goal. The early morning peaceful glow on the lake set a stillness in every fibre of my being. I set my lines and sat back to wait.

Opening my book I started to read when the sound every fisherman loves to hear started. Zinggggggg my line started screaming out. I had a fish on and it was a monster! I dropped my book, leaped up and grabbed my rod. The adrenaline rushed as I struggled to get the rod out of its holder and I did my best to bring it in. It was huge! I could feel its power as it fought to gain its freedom. Pull on the rod, and spin my wrist to gain some line. Zing the line went again as I let it run. I knew this was going to be a battle for the ages and excitement flooded through my veins.

It felt like I was reeling forever but was probably only twenty minutes. My lake monster was finally tiring out and getting close to the boat. I let it run again for a second while I took stock of my position.

The net was within reach and I grabbed the handle to myself and readied to bring it in. Lifting the tip of my rod I reeled more line up. I had to be steady. Zing the line chased out again. I slowed him down and started reeling back my lost ground. That’s when I first had a good look at him. This was the biggest fish I had ever seen. Silver and black with the distinctive rainbow glow on its back. I was sweating now. My stomach was in my throat, I wanted to land this baby.

I raised the tip of my rod up again and scooped with my net like I had many times before. The net wasn’t big enough! I tried again, again he thwarted me. I had drop the net for a second and grab on. My rod was almost ripped from my hand. Zing! The line went again. I slowed him again and reeled again trying to gain some footing and figure out a way to get him in the net. I reeled again and brought him beside the boat. He was a beauty! This was definitely the biggest fish I had ever seen. I grabbed the line itself this time and pulled my monster closer. I reached with my right hand with the net. I had the line itself in my left, I dropped the rod and reached as far as I could with the net and scooped.

The line broke! No! I reached further with the net willing it to grab the fish. Over the back of the boat I went! The net still in my hand reaching for my lost prize! That’s when the cold reality hit my consciousness. I was in the lake and the boat was still running. I released the net and started to swim back toward the boat. It was moving but the kicker was only going two miles an hour. I easily caught up to my boat and climbed on board.

I sat for a minute and swore. I swore again and looked back at where I had been. I was fully dressed and now I was soaking wet. My net was gone, my hook and my huge Rainbow trout were gone along with it.

Defeated and cold I fired up my boat and headed back to Schroeder Creek.

It was only eight am that morning as I came to shore, I saw that the campsite was waking up. I hoped to get changed and grab my dad and go back out. He saw me walk up; I could tell he was disappointed. When he saw me his expression changed to concern. I had to admit I was so wet because I fell in.

If only I had waited and tried a bit harder to get my dad up. He would have been on the boat to operate the net. He knew it too but refrained from scolding me. The silence from him the rest of that day was deafening. I could tell he was heartbroken I didn’t take him on my trip. I am heartbroken I left that morning with him sleeping in the camper.

I tried to justify it, he wasn’t sleeping much and I hated to wake him. Maybe I was enjoying my peace by myself and I didn’t want to bring him. I don’t know but it is something I have to live with.

It is a moment I can’t go back for no matter how hard I want to. In my dreams I sometimes see him beside me. Holding the net, scooping the fish; we hug. At that moment he disappears. I ache inside thinking about him, missing him. Life is hard that way and we must move forward. It’s all we can do. Take every day and every lesson. Learn and move forward.

Categories: My Story


Anonymous · May 17, 2020 at 5:07 pm

You have such a delightful way of telling a story. You and my dad had a love of fishing in common. I have no doubt you would have passed each other on the lake. He was always up and out at 5 am from our cottage in Balfour.

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