The Toone Trout Slam: all about fishing and brotherly bonding in the great outdoors
In his book, “Surround Yourself With Greatness,” author and former NFL football player Chad Lewis tells about taking “Brothers Trips.”
For more than a decade now, Lewis and his brothers have made time each year to travel somewhere within four or fives hours to camp, hike, or bike for a day or two. “It allows us time to reconnect with each other on a deep level,” Lewis wrote.
When I saw the pictures of Lewis and his brothers in the book, I thought about my own father and brothers. What a great idea. So for a few years now, my older brother and I have attempted to bring the men in the family together for at least one weekend a year. My brother Ryan, a master fisherman, came up with the name the “Toone Trout Slam.”
Not only have these trips been fun, but I feel like we have connected on a deeper level.
This year we ended up at Panguitch Lake.
It’s become tradition for me to carry a camera and notebook and record the details of these trips. Here are the highlights from this year’s Toone Trout Slam. To start off, I thought this quote by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was appropriate.
“Many of the most highly publicized events of my presidency are not nearly as memorable or significant in my life as fishing with my daddy.”
Friday, Oct. 11, 2013
7:30 – 8 a.m. Dad arrives in Syracuse. We load up his truck with our gear, buy fuel and firewood, and hit I-15 going southbound.
8:30 – 11:30 a.m. While my son Trevin falls asleep in the backseat, Dad and I enjoy a long conversation, with an audio book or two mixed in. Dad told me about being a teenager and growing up on the family farm in Idaho. He told me about his father, a man I know very little about. His older brothers were also hard on him at times during his adolescent years. I get the feeling that I’m only hearing a fraction of what really happened. Dad also shared his opinion of Pres. Obama and the government shutdown, which made me drowsy.
11:45 – 12:30 p.m. We arrived in Beaver, our destination. We call Ryan and find out he hasn’t left Mesquite yet. He estimates that he’s about three or four hours away from meeting us, so Dad suggests we take a drive up the Beaver Canyon. The leaves have turned and there is a lot of snow. It was a fun drive. In the backseat, Trevin says he would rather go to a local park and play football.
On the way down, Dad tells me about the turning point in his mission when a lazy senior companion was finally transferred out and he was able to serve with some hard-working missionaries. Someday he wants to go back to Northern California and see where he served again. Later Dad shared how he was able to be companions with a troubled elder who had gone home and worked hard to return and finish his mission on a high note. Why have I never heard these stories before? Learning these little insights about my father is one of the reasons we have the Toone Trout Slam.
12:31 – 1:30 p.m. We park at the park in downtown Beaver and have a lunch of sandwiches and chips. Trevin and I play catch with the football. It’s a cool, sunny day and I am glad to be out of the office. We talk about books, general conference and football.
1:31 – 2 p.m. We drive west out of town and arrive at Minersville Reservoir, where we had previously planned to camp and fish. But as we look around, we are not that impressed. Dad talks to a man who has been out on the water. He says no one is having any success and the water level is way down. We phone Ryan and decide to call an audible. We will drive another hour south and meet him at Panguitch Lake instead of staying at Minersville.
2:45 – 3:45 p.m. There is no cell phone service at Panguitch Lake so we drive to the road at the south end of the lake and wait for Ryan and Bridger. We didn’t have to wait very long. About 10 minutes later Ryan pulls up in his new truck. What a stud. The lake’s two campgrounds are closed for the season, but Ryan knows of another spot nearby, so we hop in the truck and follow him there.
4:30-ish to 6:30-ish p.m. We locate a fine spot a short distance from the lake and set up Ryan’s big tent. Then we grab our fishing gear and head down over the north end of the lake. Ryan helps us get set up and we cast out. It’s fun to all be together, finally. This is Trevin’s first real experience fishing. This will be a test of patience for him because he has none.
At first all Trevin and Bridger want to do is throw rocks and smash glass bottles. Uncle Ryan quickly informs the boys THEY ARE NOT to do those things. He also reminded Bridger to keep his voice down. “Fishing is a quiet activity,” he said more than once. As the time passes, we don’t get so much as a nibble from any fish. Trevin gets bored and while messing around, he slips into the lake up to his waist. By now it’s getting dark and chilly with a light breeze. Grandpa takes him up to the truck to dry off and change his clothes. Trevin is embarrassed and I think he has learned a good lesson.
7:25 – 10 p.m. We return to camp and Ryan, a dutch oven chef, begins preparing barbecue chicken, potatoes and later, peach cobbler. I help him slice the potatoes. It takes a while for the food to cook because the stupid charcoal briquettes refuse to burn. We pass the time by talking as we sit around the fire. Trevin and Bridger try to entertain us by doing a comedy routine with their Smeagol/Gollum voices, but that gets old pretty fast. Dad pulls out his iPad to read a story to the boys, but at the most dramatic part, he realizes he has only downloaded a sample chapter. “To get the rest of this story, you must purchase the whole book,” Dad says with a frown.
10:02 – 11-ish p.m. By now, it is really cold, around the high 20s and low 30s. We are all sitting close to the fire as Ryan serves us dinner. “This will warm your gizzard,” Dad says with a smile. The chicken is really tasty, as are the potatoes and cobbler. Once we clean up the food, we are ready to retire. It is freezing. We shiver as we all crawl into our sleeping bags and try to go to sleep.
Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013
8 – 9-ish a.m. We awake to more frigid temperatures and frost covering the landscape, but we survived! Good thing the women stayed home. Dad thinks it got as cold as 27 degrees during the night. He and I admit to each other we missed our warm beds the previous night. Ryan, ever the tough guy, says he was never cold. I don’t believe it.
9:15 – 11:30 a.m. First things first, we find a bathroom. I almost panic as I see there is no toilet paper, but Dad is prepared. He even insists we leave the roll for some poor guy who comes along later. “It can count as my good deed for the day,” he says with a grin. What a guy. We return to our spot on the rocky north shore and cast out.
While we wait for the fish to wake up, we enjoy a cold breakfast of Go-gurts, fruit, orange juice, granola bars, muffins and pop tarts. As the temperature increases, I take in the clear blue sky and enjoy the calm lake. I also observe that Ryan is so excited to fish that he is the last to eat breakfast. Dad is in super scout mode and is more interested in picking up trash along the shore instead of fishing. “Leave no trace, boys,” he says. The boys nod and return to messing around until Ryan barks at them. Good times.
Eventually, Bridger uses Ryan’s pole to pull in the first fish of the trip, a rainbow trout. Whew, at least we got one, I thought.
Dad sees me writing on my note pad and says, “Hey, some of what I said last night was off the record, right?”
A short time later, Ryan catches another fish and has Trevin reel it in. As I try to take a picture, Trevin drops the fish and feels embarrassed that I’m taking a picture when he really didn’t catch the fish. He’s ready to go home. Ryan suggests we move to the other side of the lake and try worms and flavored marshmallows. This would prove to be a pivotal decision.
Noon – 2 p.m. After Ryan buys night crawlers, a root beer for Bridger and Pringles for Trevin, we attack the south beach with a fury. Ryan’s plan proves to be pure genius as we immediately start catching fish, and nice-size fish at that. Not only does Trevin truly catch his first fish, but he pulls in several. We all start catching fish. Over the next hour and half, our group catches a total of about 30 fish. Ryan and Dad practically run from person to person, pulling the hook from the fish, posing for a photo, and adding more bait before running to the next person.
After a frigid night and hours of no fish, we have earned this, and the Toone Trout Slam 2013 ends on a very high note. As the fish calmed down, we eat more sandwiches and chips and prepare to depart.
2:30-ish p.m. We stop in Panguitch on our journey north to see if we could find the grave of ancestor Hannah Wardell Toone in the cemetery. It is supposedly there. But the register is missing and the cemetery is huge. Dad walks around for a few minutes, but we can’t find it. Oh well.
2:45 – 7-ish p.m. Continuing north, we listen to the University of Utah football radio network and cheer as the Utes upset No. 5 Stanford, 27-21. It was sort of fun to realize we would drive past Provo as BYU is hosting Georgia Tech; Salt Lake City as Utah is hosting Stanford; and we wouldn’t pass Logan, but Utah State is hosting Boise State – a big day for college football in Utah.
We stop to stretch our legs in Nephi and Dad fills his tank in Syracuse before dropping us off. I was glad to drive for a few hours so Dad could rest up for flying solo on the last leg of the trip.
So what can we say about Toone Trout Slam 2013? It was short, and it was cold, and we didn’t have everyone there, but we eventually caught a lot of big fish and created some good memories. It was worth it. If we ever go back to Panguitch Lake, Dad would like to get a cabin. I think that’s a great idea.
On a deeper level, I recommend you consider starting a tradition like this in your family. Families are eternal in nature and these relationships continue beyond the grave. Cherish your family.