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Wilderness Fishing Gone Wild

By Joey Havens

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CeCe and I are settling in on the jet boat with our guide Kerry as we embark on a bucket list wilderness fishing excursion. We are on Lake Harrison in Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada, and Kerry is sharing that we have a 44-mile boat ride to reach the river we will navigate to fish in some pristine areas seldom frequented by others. Thank goodness, the winds are only 1 to 2 miles per hour and the lake is as smooth as it can be. 

What an incredible hour of beauty as we make our way across Lake Harrison between the mountain caps and various islands. We are pulling up at the mouth of the Lillooet River and Kerry idles the motor down and huddles up with us. Logs and a significant current is evident as we are looking at the mouth of the river. Kerry instructs us where the life preservers are and the satellite phone as we have no other means of communication out here. After a few other safety tips, he says to hang on tight as we are going to be swinging around quickly as we navigate upriver to some prime fishing spots. He did not need to stress this to CeCe as I could see the white knuckles and a slight doubt slipping into her eyes. 

What a ride this is as Kerry expertly navigates the boat through the logs, the current and around the protruding rocks. The scenery gets even better as we move upriver and I hope this picture will relay some of the beauty around us. We pull in next to the rocky shore and Kerry says this spot is fantastic for trout and early salmon starting to spawn. If the fish are here, we can spend all day working the area above and below the boat. 

We are novice fly fishermen, so it’s pretty ugly as we get started. CeCe catches two rainbows before I land my first. Then, I land a coho salmon which was the catch of the day! (Fishermen always brag — and lie.) We are having a very successful morning and have waded down shore a significant ways past the boat. Kerry is heating the grill and lunch as we continue to fish. He has just informed us that he is going to bring the boat down to us for lunch. I hear the motor turning over but not running. Maybe he has changed his mind, as he yells for us to come to the boat for lunch. “I have good news and bad news and good news. First, you are going to get to fish an extra 2 hours or so today. The bad news is that the boat will not crank, first time in my 15 years of guiding. The good news is that I got them on the satellite phone and they are coming with some parts and help.” I gaze over at CeCe to make sure she is okay. “When you told us about the satellite phone, I relaxed and now I feel okay since they are coming to help us,” CeCe shared with Kerry. 

Lunch was excellent — fresh salmon on the grill. We are catching fish and missing too many bites. Even CeCe has fished most of the afternoon. She is taking some pictures when Frank (owner of Fraser River Lodge, where we are staying and fishing out of) arrives with parts and a maintenance guy. Frank shares with us as they are working on our boat, “I have had this business 24 years and never had a breakdown like this. We maintenance these jet boats every day for prime performance.” CeCe and I look at each other and laugh as this is the first time we have ventured out together on a wilderness excursion like this. 

What I am admiring immediately about CeCe, who is completely out of her element, is she is not panicking. She hasn’t asked a hundred questions which we can’t answer. She continued to fish, take pictures and rest at times. Although she did show some excitement when she heard the other jet boat driving up. 

Our wilderness fishing expedition got a little wild which made for a long, long day, yet it all ended well. Our profession and each firm are on a wilderness journey of their own as we disrupt ourselves and transform our profession. We have some long days ahead of us and we are going to incur some unexpected challenges. We are certainly going to see some destructive logs resembling new competitors and a fast current that moves us before we are ready. 

Let’s be prepared and embrace that mindset of exploring what awaits us on this journey. Like CeCe, let’s enjoy the trip and not panic when we encounter unexpected challenges. We have some fantastic fishing ahead of us! 

The Christmas Story