Fishing trip to Ferry County
I’d been looking forward to this trip since I was about 14, I just never knew it until this year. My dad goes on a fishing trip with his friend, Lyn Hartman, to Twin Lakes just about every year. And every year he asks me if I want to go. During the college years, I passed on the opportunity. During the starting-my-career years, I’d be too busy. During the years in Las Vegas, I’d be…we’ll say “otherwise occupied.” But after my son was born, I felt like I needed to go spend some time with my dad.
The trip had already been postponed once due to the Legislature’s inability to pass a budget on time and apparent need to disrupt the lives of thousands of hardworking state employees. When they finally got their work done and it was clear that interim was about to settle in for the summer, dad and I made plans to travel from western Washington to the east side of the state…specifically, Colville.
Now, my brother was born in Colville and we lived there for about four or five years when I was a kid. But I don’t remember much of it, and I don’t trust the memories that I do have as they tend to become blurred with old Super-8 film footage my parents took. But at 35 years of age, I suddenly felt a burning desire to get some guy-time with dad and Lyn.
Lyn, as many people know, is an avid fisherman and firearm collector, so I knew the trip would satisfy my desire to spend some time in the outdoors and maybe even shoot the crap out of something. I began really looking forward to it, despite the fact that I would have to leave my wife and son for five days. The way I saw it, the ol’ batteries simply had to be recharged, especially after such a particularly gruelling legislative session.
We made the obligatory trip to Cabela’s the night before we left, and dad and I were able to use our Father’s Day gifts cards to each other. I got a pair of camo pants in Realtree AP, and a portable electric insect repeller with travel pouch in olive drab green. I wanted the one in Realtree AP, but that was sold out.
On Saturday, we said goodbye to the ladies (and Parker) and headed east on Interstate-90. Having made this trek literally hundreds of times in the past, it was clearly going to be an uneventful ride over. We stopped in North Bend for lunch at Arby’s, and various rest stops along the way to stretch, use the restroom, change drivers, and call the wives.
Late in the evening, after turning north in Spokane and following Highway 395 through Chewelah, we arrived in Colville at Lyn’s place. We were treated immediately to a fish fry outdoor dinner hosted by his wonderful wife, Linda. Their eldest son, Loren, and his wife came over as well, and we all got to play catch up for hours. Lyn took us into his shop to show off some of the weapons we were going to fire later in the week, and us guys sat around bullshitting for an hour or two. He even broke out a $200 bottle of Crown Royal whiskey and poured me a glass.
That night, dad and I watched Red (starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren) in Lyn’s private movie theater. Yes, I said his PRIVATE MOVIE THEATER. It’s very well-done, and Lyn owns just about every movie made in the last 30 years. Those of you familiar with Colville know there’s not exactly a whole lot of entertainment to choose from. Red was pretty good, though fairly predictable, and when it ended we hit the sack.
The next morning after showers, Linda had made a huge breakfast for us that consisted mostly of various kinds of protein. The main dish was some sort of baked sausage, egg and tomato casserole that was very good. After loading up the RV with everything we thought we might need, we said goodbye to Linda and headed into town to gas up the motor home and pick up a few last minute items.
Twin Lakes is just shy of an hour and a half from Colville, and Lyn brought some of his home-smoked trout to snack on while we were en route. Most of the drive is typical north-eastern Washington forest…hot, dry and sparse in the month of July. Once we reached Kettle Falls (home to 1,610 friendly people and one grouch!) we crossed Lake Roosevelt and headed south along the western shore toward Inchelium.
Inchelium is a tiny Native American community on the Colville Indian Reservation almost entirely subsidized by federal tax dollars. It’s not even considered a town…Wikipedia says it’s a Census-Designated Place (whatever that is). According to some, much of the town’s new construction is frustrating to non-tribal residents of the area who are suffering from the same economic hardships but don’t see any federal financial assistance. Either way, Inchelium is not much more than a crossroads between Ferry County Highways 2 and 3.
20 minutes later, and we were pulling into Hartman’s Log Cabin Resort…owned and operated by Lyn’s sisters and their families. I’d have linked to their website, but they don’t seem to have one operational right now. While the resort could stand a bit of upkeep…ah, who am I kidding? It could stand a LOT of upkeep…but friendlier staff would be hard to find. Most of the resort’s patrons have been returning every year for decades. And if you’re looking to unplug from your technology, Hartman’s Log Cabin Resort is the place to do it. No cell service, no wi-fi hotspots and no telephones save for the one in the office and a payphone outside that I’m not even sure has ever worked.
Since there was still plenty of daylight, we set up the motorhome, launched the boat and headed out on the south lake for some bass fishing. Because the resort and surrounding lakes are all on the reservation, a State of Washington fishing license won’t do you any good. I had to purchase a 3-day tribal license which is good for bass, trout and pretty much anything else you can catch in those lakes.
The daily limit on bass is 15 per person, and we caught our limit three days straight. Do the math and that’s 45 fish per day for three days, for a total of 135 bass between the three of us. After gutting, cleaning and filleting them all, we’re left with 270 bass “cookies,” our clever name for the tiny amount of meat each bass renders and what it resembles after being dipped in batter and deep fried.
During the morning hours of the trip, we’d take a drive over to Bourgeau Lake – a tiny pothole of a reservoir but stocked annually by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. After about three hours trolling on Bourgeau, we had our limits of 5 trout apiece. Over three days, that resulted in 45 trout to go along with our 135 bass. All of this fish ended up in the deep freezer in Lyn’s motorhome.
The evenings not spent on the lake were spent either at Lyn’s mom’s house – a palatial home on a bluff overlooking the entire south lake – or at the resort, either enjoying something greasy, fattening and entirely delicious, or watching “Band of Brothers” on DVD (or both). But like all good things, sadly this fishing trip had to come to an end.
After returning to Colville satisfied at having fulfilled our daily limits, I was treated to a day of blowing the crap out of stuff with some big-caliber firearms. To be honest, I was looking forward to this part of the trip the most, and it did not disappoint. However just as we arrived at the home of Lyn’s friend who had a private outdoor rifle range (actually not that uncommon for people in this part of Washington), the skies opened up and drenched us.
We decided to wait it out, and it’s a good thing we did too. Not 20 minutes later, the clouds parted and the shooting began! I fired a ton of rounds with a magazine-fed .22LR, and tried to fire a few rounds from Lyn’s AR-15 (the nearly identical civilian version of the Army’s M-16 that I’m already familiar with). However it jammed repeately and we eventually had to bag it in favor of something new…something I liked very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, the .45-70 Government!
Shooting this rifle was one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in a long time. The recoil was strong but not painful, the shots were loud, and the custom bullets Lyn had made for this thing were splitting apart rocks the size of my head. Quite a rush.
After the fun with the .45-70 was done, we unloaded a dozen or so clips with Lyn’s M-1911, a powerful .45 caliber pistol. While it didn’t quite have the power to split rock like the .45-70 Government, it did leave a few tree stumps looking pretty gruesome.
We also tested out a .22 revolver that my parents got after my grandfather passed away. It was a good opportunity to familiarize ourselves with that firearm under the watch of our friend, Lyn, who could answer any questions we had.
Rounding out the trip was dinner with Lyn and Linda at the Mexican restaurant in downtown Colville. We had a great time, and are looking forward to doing it again next year!