I hate fishing and camping, but the men in my life are to blame.

fishing and camping

Although my husband and kids love fishing and camping, I am reminded of all of the drama and trials surrounding fishing, hunting and camping that caused me to not like any of them as I grew up.

fishing and camping
Erin holding the family salmon catch from the Fraser River in British Columbia

Who’s to blame?

The men in my life!

My darling, loving husband, Mark and my dear departed father, Gerry.

I grew up in a fishing and camping family. As a matter of fact, camping in the summers was my mother’s ‘vacation’ from the stresses and drudgery of being a military wife and mother. This ‘outdoor adventure’ habit grew to the point where we would set up camp at a local campground (just minutes from home) as our summer base each year. Even our pets came along for the fun. My father would get up early and drive his ‘butt’ to our home in the military quarters for his shower and to change and then leave for work from there. The only time we saw our home during these summers was when my Mom needed to do laundry or some such thing.

fishing and camping
Stuart brandishes the daily catch of salmon from the Fraser River.

When Dad had vacation days, we’d travel further afield to our favorite fresh water lake, Brewster Lake on Vancouver Island. I can remember the first time we ventured there when I was about ten years old, in the early ’70’s. I can still see Mom and Dad cutting through the brush to create a small campsite and a trail down to the small dilapidated dock we had spotted from the main road. Over the years, this site expanded to two, then three, then four sites, and so on, as more and more people discovered our favorite place.

As a kid, I loved fishing.

It seemed that the trout were competing to see who could impale themselves on my baited hook first. We’d reel in my catch, and toss out another line until someone would shout because they’d seen that tell-tale tug on the bobber. Within minutes, I’d be reeling in another – then another – and then another. Fishing was mighty good in those days – or so I thought at the time.

As I learned much later from my Mom and Dad, what was really happening was that my Dad, in an effort to keep us occupied and happy so he could fish, would surreptitiously attach a fish that had already been caught onto our hooks, toss it in, and pretend excitement a little while later at the ‘tug’ he spotted as we reeled in our wonderful catch. It was only then that I realized that I’d rarely, if ever, seen a ‘tug’ on the bobber myself. I grew up with false expectations about the excitement and pace of fishing.

In my late twenties, I met and married Mark and moved to Cold Lake, Alberta with him. He’s an avid fisher, hunter and camper, and I would go along with him. Camping wasn’t so bad because I could bring along my pencil puzzle books and knitting to keep me busy and remain at the camp if I didn’t want to fish with him. Fishing, however, was another story. Mark does not know when to quit!

The best example I have of this, was the event that tipped the scales for me and caused me to rarely, if ever, go fishing again. One day , we went fishing on Cold Lake “for a couple of hours,” as Mark put it. When we left it was cool and cloudy, but reasonably comfortable. Once on the lake, however, one of the notorious flash rainstorms came upon us. This was already at the ‘couple of hours’ mark and I was starting to get very cold and uncomfortable. Finally, I said something to Mark, hoping he’d take us home. Instead, he offered me his rain gear. I’m sure I looked like a big yellow weather balloon indicating ‘stormy conditions ahead’ (and I don’t mean weather) after I struggled my 5′ frame into his 6’1″ bulky rain gear.

So, we remained on the water another two hours or so until I’d absolutely had enough. I could see the disappointment on his face when I said I wanted to return home, but at this point I just wanted warmth, dry clothing, and a nice, hot cup of coffee.

That day, we made a deal. If he wanted to go fishing, he would decide how long he’d be gone and stick to it. This provided me with valid information on which to base my decision as to whether or not to go with him. Needless to say, I rarely went with him again. He’s just too much of a fishing addict to put such restrictions on himself.

Now men…

…here’s the trick.

DO NOT raise false expectations in the girl you’re interested in, whether it be about time, finances, condition or size of anything. If anything, be slightly conservative in any claims you make. Rather than setting her up for ultimate disappointment, you’ll be ensuring a winning situation for yourself. If she remains interested even with such conservative claims, you can bet she’ll be happy with the true state of affairs!

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