Hunting and Gathering: A Fly Fishing Trip to Pennask Lake

I think I'm giving you all the wrong impression. That impression is that all I ever do is bum around traveling from one cool place to the next. It's not true. This blog is like life according to Facebook: much cooler online than in real life. In real life I spend a lot of time doing paperwork and washing dishes, but I have a sneaking suspicion you wouldn't want to read about that. Instead, let's talk about the last weekend of summer and how it lived up to all expectations.

I get mocked on a fairly regular basis by my family for my propensity towards hunting and gathering. Not only do I think it's a cool life skill to have, it's also a completely viable way to source free and sustainable food - what's not to love about that? They think I'm a dirty hippie. So when a fly fishing/ family bonding trip to the middle of nowhere was suggested I was excited that we could all be dirty hippies together.

We headed due East to Pennask Lake, the long, meandering dirt road to which is lined with incongruous signs like the one to the left. No one seems to be able to give a solid answer as to where that tradition started or where all of the signs are sourced from. I'm leaning towards kleptomaniac owners. When you drive for an hour down a logging road with no cell reception and significantly different musical tastes, there's a lot of time to think about things like that.

Pennask Lake Lodge

The original lodge greets visitors the same way it did when first opened by James Dole (of Dole pineapple fame) in 1929: quaint, charming, and yet stoic against the pristine background. The facilities are modern but simple, giving guests the feeling they're 'glamping'  in rustic rooms with crisp white sheets. Showers are found at the end of the hall. Bats may or may not swoop through the hallways (badminton rackets hang on the walls just in case). It's not only the physical structure which is playing catch-up to modern times; drinks can't be brought into the den - as that's where women used to spend the evenings - and the food, as a whole, belongs in a retirement home. The indoor experience definitely comes as an afterthought as people make this trek for the lake alone.

And thus, within 10 minutes of getting out of the car, we were setting up rods and heading out for the afternoon.

The fishing experience is an exercise in patience. Tin boats boast tiny engines that putter across the massive lake. Fish launch themselves into the air inches from the boat but refuse to bite. Mothers sing show tunes. And yet, drifting across the still water under blue sky with the repetitive wrist motions of catch and retrieve, life's not so bad.

We managed to spend a couple of solid days this way. Smack talking each others' fishing skills; changing rods, lines, and flies in search of the perfect combination; talking about when we could reasonably stop for lunch and crack open a bottle of wine. Lunches are an event on the lake. Shelters dot the perimeter and provide the necessities to make fire and assemble a fish fry. Freshly caught trout, onions, bacon, and tomatoes crisp to perfection in the cast iron pan. Peanut butter sandwiches and cookies always make an appearance for the unlucky days when no fish are caught. Everyone gorges themselves on the best meal of the day.

As the routine falls into place and the romantic notion that one could easily spend a season living in the wilderness, trading manual labour for days on the water, starts to feel more plausible, it's time to call it a day. The last cast. The last moment of serenity on a still lake coupled with an underlying desperation to catch the last fish in order to claim the weekend's winning count. Pile everyone - everything - into the car: we're taking the scenic route home. But don't worry, we're going to stop on route for apples.