I got a call from my buddy, Kyle, and the 8 am conversation went almost exactly like this:
Kyle: “You, me, my wife, your family, overnight fishing trip, we’re leaving at noon.”
Me: “OK! Sounds good…see you at the landing!”
If anyone knows what’s involved with taking kids even to the grocery store sometimes, getting the kids out of bed, fed, and packed for an overnight camping trip can be quite the challenging task! Of course you have to make sure you have gear for most any type of weather and to also have things to keep them occupied in case the fishing is slow. Couple that with a tent, sleeping gear, and food, I was pretty impressed that we were ready to go and on time given such short notice.
We left the house in a drizzle and headed out. We met up with Kyle and his wife, Molly, got the boat loaded and headed downriver.
You can see from this picture that once we got to our campsite, the weather broke and it got HOT! We pretty much knew the kids were going to get wet and dirty, but we didn’t care, they were having a blast exploring the river bank, checking out the fishing gear, and ogling over the riverboat.
I had previously purchased a new tent and this was the trip that I decided to break it out on. It is a Go-Lite Shangri-La SL8 with an SL8 nest. The key to getting this thing setup correctly is to stake out the nest corners and sides pretty tightly. This wasn’t hard to do on the sandy bank. Once the nest is tight, you can get the inside poles setup and adjust the height of the tent to suit your needs. We didn’t expect any wind so I set the poles to the maximum length. Unfortunately Go-Lite has discontinued this model, but I know many folks who have other versions/sizes of the Shangri-La and if you’re looking for a lightweight tent that offers quite a bit of versatility in setup options, this is a great option.
This tent, along with the nest, offers almost 200 square feet of space for the kids to get out of the bugs, play around bare-foot, stretch their legs before bed, and plenty of space to spread out tons of kid gear!
We fished all that first day and well into the evening without any results. Our quarry teased us mercilessly the whole afternoon by rolling, jumping, and carrying on, but wouldn’t bite. We sat in the midnight sun, relaxed around a campfire, enjoyed some wildlife around camp, and watched a very cool show put on by the US Air Foce flying C130’s very low and doing some tight banking turns right above our campsite. It was truly a gorgeous evening.
Early the next morning, I woke up to Kyle saying “Are you gonna get the net!” and some scurrying around our tent. We were up and at ’em in no time as I knew the bite was on! We were greeted by biting kings, a smoky river, and blue-bird skies.
Between wrangling kids and cooking the mornings oatmeal, Nicole got a chance to get some fishing in and quickly caught her first King Salmon, and immediately went back to kid wrangling. We all know good wives/mothers are worth their weight in gold and its safe to say she is no exception.
I caught a nice little male a short bit later as well.
Without any other successes and fun we had on this trip, I would’ve been more than ecstatic for a successful fishing trip with my family, but to top it all off, my daughter caught her first King as well!
Because she had to catch the fish by herself, all I was doing to ‘help’ her was casting and helping mend her line. She followed my instructions and after that bobber sunk all the way under the surface of the water, she gave that rod the best lip-ripping yank a 4 year old could and the fight was on! I helped keep the rod tip up and made sure she didn’t get pulled in. Kyle was quick in on the action as well, running to get the landing net all while she was squealing, screaming, and yelling at her little brother to “CHECK IT OUT!!”. You could say it was a special experience for her since she told every person she encountered about it for the next week. She also insisted on bonking it herself.
You have to look for it, but somewhere in this picture is an excited little girl!
We left the river with a handful of fish and a truckload of memories. We stopped for ice cream on the way home and soon we had 3 kids sleeping in the truck, ice cream on their dirty, sun-kissed, summertime faces. Nicole and I soaked in the moment as we knew we had just shared an unbelievable family experience, even if it was just two days. It doesn’t get much better than this…