As you may have read in a previous blog, fishing trips have NOT been our strong point. In fact, we realized that we have never all been together fishing since we were kids. The last time we tried to make this happen we were lucky.. seriously that no one died. It really was an example of ‘Murphy’s law’. Why is it that ‘fishing’ seems to embody the perfect father/son bonding experience? Some boys grow up hunting, some grow up camping.. we grew up playing sports with my Dad as our Little League coach for a variety sports. My Dad was my coach for Little League football.. I still think back to those days and cherish those games and bonding moments. My brothers experienced much of the same.. we were all groomed to be “All American” hopefuls.. or at least over achieving athletes. Once in a while we would take random fishing trips with my grandpa Craig or maybe just up the street in Smithfield canyon for a day trip.. those were usually just the boys. We were lucky like that, our house was literally across the street from a huge city park that was also at the mouth of an incredible canyon, filled with trout stocked streams and swimming holes. Drawing from these experiences kind of sets the scene for our fishing trip. We are all now older and experienced with a few of life’s bumpy dirt roads and challenges.. but still the same “Craig boys” who are still fast to start a neighborhood football game or bait a hook with a worm.

The location we chose was Strawberry Reservoir, about 2 hours South East of Salt Lake City. Anyone who has ever gone fishing in Utah knows the reputation of Strawberry.. it’s the Holy Grail of fishing spots in Utah. The name “Strawberry” is always used in quiet, respectful tones when referring to fishing. Once there one realizes that it’s much more than just an amazing place to harvest all types of trout and some salmon, it’s also a ‘man refuge’! Oh there some women who dare to venture to the male mecca.. but they are few and tougher looking than most.

 

Dad and brothers.. (Robyn (Biz), Aric, Dad, Jon)

Strawberry is also the place my Dad would fish with his Dad and brother. So it’s a man/family tradition to head to ‘Strawberry’ for time with the “guys”. BUT.. one cannot fish without stacking up on food and beverages for the day. Based on the food/supplies we gathered.. we could have survived on that lake for a month.. maybe (especially if we could have endless meals of chips, crackers, bologna, cheese, diet Pepsi, jerky, bubble gum, water and night crawlers.)

We stopped in Heber to fill up on gas and grab last-minute supplies for the big trip. Heber is about an hour or less from Strawberry. Once at Strawberry we pulled in and checked into the lodge.. that’s where we planned to spend the night. Two rooms with two queen beds each and 5 boys.. 5 Craig boys.. Craig boys are not your small wimpy little types..

Once we made our pit stops and unloaded the ‘unnecessary’ gear/clothes.. we decided to launch the boat and do some fish that first evening. As we made our way to the ramp, I saw a ton of crawfish in the shallow water just waiting for me to catch them.. so I did..

Crawfish

 

Yes.. to all my Texas/Louisiana peeps.. we do have crawfish here.

We were of course all excited to get out there finally.. (cue the courage music here) just think of it, after all these years and miles apart.. we were finally headed out to Sea.. kind of.. to  prove our manhood, to boldly take on nature and the elements.. as the boat is lowered into the water and the key turned over to start the engine….. (music slowly slows down to a final sound of a needle being dragged across the record)!!!!!

The engine won’t start.. WHAT THE WHAT!?!?!?

And so it begins.. the Craig curse.. we all look at each other and laugh, “Really”? But wait, it gets better.. Our first thought was that it was just a dead battery.. so my Dad jumps out of the boat and mumbles something like, “I’ll be back boys”.. we look at each other and then I say.. “guys, Dad just went to buy a battery at the marina store.. ”

Now, a little background on my Dad. He doesn’t give up to easily on anything. He was an amazing athlete in high school and college, a golden gloves boxer, a city councilman, a university professor, a baseball/basketball/football/wrestling coach and my Dad. Oh and he recently had a double knee replacement.. AT THE SAME TIME! In fact, it’s been said that he was born with twice the amount of testosterone than normal men, three times the stamina and a huge heart to care the load..

back to the story..

So my Dad comes walking down the ramp with this huge ass battery.. these aren’t light.. without breaking a sweat.. we all stood there watching, until someone said.. “hey, we should help him care that..” he of course said, “no worries, I got it”. The new battery quickly revealed that the problem wasn’t going to be that easy to solve… the engine was just “clicking”.. was all said, “sounds like a starter or solenoid” .. we are all mechanics too.. another lesson learned from Dad who also put himself through college as a mechanic.

So after diagnosing the problem, my Dad and Jon decided we should take that part of the engine apart to see if there was a loose wire or easy fix..

Finding the starter... fixing the boat

Then Jon’s turn..

Jon's turn..

 

There of course were lots of random jokes about trying to find the perfect spot in dark hard to find places… that’s all I will say.

We finally realized that the boat wasn’t going to work… it was getting late and we decide to button it back up and rethink the options tomorrow.

The next morning I was up early.. as always.  I wasn’t feeling great, but thought it might be just the anxiety of the “fish hunt” or the crappy night sleep. So I took some pictures of the sunrise over Strawberry..

The lodge where we stayed

 

Sunrise

 

The mornings in the Utah mountains are really an amazing thing… words really can’t explain the sensory overload.

We made the quick decision to rent a pontoon boat for the day. This was the only solution if we wanted to go fishing, so we went for it. We headed over to the marina and loaded the boat. I had to duck behind the rental shack for a second.. I wasn’t feeling good at all. So I let a little bit of last nights meal come back to fertilize the weeds.. I puked. But I wasn’t about to miss this man-fest for anything. We headed out across the lake, with 6 or 7 coolers full of man food and worms. I grabbed my Wal-Mart fishing pole and loaded some ‘pop-gear’ with a nightcrawler and dropped it in the water.

Trolling is a very slow process. The idea is that you drop you line with the bait or lure down to the fish and trick them into biting onto a hook so we can decide to keep them or let them go.

Less than an hour in to the trolling, we started to get fish… awwwww… the man-moments where here. Jon and I lead the tally of most fish being caught.

Jon and his huge fish

 

My first of 5..

 

We spent probably 9 or 10 hours on that lake trying every combination of lure and bait. Jon caught a kokanee salmon which was cool, we also caught a couple of cutthroat trout and rainbows… 10 in total. Most thrown back because of size..

 

By about 4 in the afternoon we all started pulling in our lines. Robyn in the end was the only “true” fisherman.. he wasn’t ready to stop. But we realized that being dehydrated, me being sick and the fish not biting.. maybe it was time to call it for the day. A day filled with lines being tangled, lures being lost, man talk, farting, burping, spitting, dirty jokes… yeah, it was a perfect man-fest.. and on we hadn’t even made a dent in the food we tried so hard to gather in the 10 or so coolers we had on board full of man food.

We went back that night to the lodge exhausted, hungry, sunburned, sick, smelly and fulfilled…  we had met our goal and made good on the challenge of making good on the other near fatal “fishing trip from hell”… It was a good day.

 

I know we got on each others nerve a bit, but in the end we all laughed, cried and hugged a ton. We needed this break..

 

The Craig Boys.. (Dad is the shadow trying to see my iPhone screen to take the picture)

 

I love these guys.. we’re different in many ways, but the same common thread.. We’re “Craig’s Dammit!”

Most importantly, we broke the curse… and nobody got seriously injured or died. Both very important statements at the close of a family excursion. We all committed to doing this again asap.. not letting so much time-lapse between man-fests.

These are the fish I brought home… 2 cutthroats, two rainbows..

fish

 

YES.. Emi ate fish for lunch today… priceless.

 

AS FOR THE INTERVIEW

Friday before the fishing trip, I had another interview with one of the stations I’ve been ‘dancing’ with for a few months. Let’s just say, the longer this goes with these guys, the more confused I get about the potential job or what my role may be or not. Especially when I hear things like; “control your expectations”, or ” if you have other offers, don’t let us hold you up” or “I want to slow this down a bit”.. HUH? This after talks of responsibilities, time lines, programming philosophy and structure. Oh well.. I can’t be too upset. Maybe this is the universe giving me a message to keep looking.. and so I will. This is very confusing and more than discouraging.. but as the interviewer said..”hey at least ski season is coming..” referring to my job last season as a full-time ski instructor.

 

Today I still feel rich..

 

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