Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Summer Island to Colville River
15 miles cruised today; 226 miles for the trip
We sleep in till after 8 o’clock. When I step out into the cockpit it’s clear, calm and warm. This promises to be the warmest day of the trip. While we’re eating breakfast, one of those 60 foot houseboats out of Kettle Falls looms around the point and heads our way. There’s a nice landing shore right next to our dock, and they pull in. Moorage for them is simple. Dad goes ashore with a pair of 4 foot long spikes – they look like giant nails. He pounds them into the ground with a sledge hammer, at angles from the front corners of the houseboat. Bow and stern spring lines on each side go to their respective spikes, and they’re done. He slides a ramp out of the front and everyone on board can easily step ashore. It’s mom and dad plus a pair of teen age boys and a teen age girl. They seem to be having a good time.
As we prepare to depart, they worry that we’re leaving because of their arrival. We assure them that’s not the case. I rig up for walleye fishing, and we give the shelf out in front of camp a try, but no luck. I leave the rig out and we troll our way downlake, toward Kettle Falls. It’s a lovely, lazy day, with no hassles caused by biting fish to disturb our leisurely pace. Somewhere around Marcus I give up on the fishing and we increase speed. I take pains to follow the historic channel of the river when we go over the drowned Kettle Falls. Great boulders and drop offs show on the depth sounder, and it’s hard to not feel saddened that the great salmon runs which once leaped past the imposing barrier of Kettle Falls is no more.
Right at noon we put in at Kettle Falls Marina, to fill the gas tank, buy ice, and tend to a few other chores. I take on 10.3 gallons of gas, and calculate my mileage for the run up to Northport and back to be nearly 7 miles per gallon. That’s pretty amazing, considering the hard running into strong current. We submit to temptation and have lunch at their grill, complete with milkshakes. I dump trash and empty the liquid tank from the composting toilet, and we’re ready to go. We’re gassed, lunched, iced, trashed and urinated.
We plan on spending the night in one of the bays at the mouth of the Colville River, which is just around the corner from Kettle Falls. I thread a fresh worm onto my walleye rig and we troll our way into the Colville River. Almost immediately I get a strong bite, but the fish fails to get hooked. I let the line back out and continue trolling. Another bite, and this time the fish is on. I reel in a nice 17 inch walleye, just what we needed to go with the one I caught earlier. Perfect for a fish fry dinner. I land the fish with the new little net I bought at Keller Ferry at the start of the trip, clip it onto the stringer, and we fish our way around the next corner, to the head of navigation on the Colville River. I get one more bite before hauling the line in. Time to look for a place to spend the night. I head for a nice looking open bay, surrounded by grassy marsh, which I’d noticed on the way in. I could see picnic tables on shore, and a couple of trucks parked. This means that there is a road where we can go walking later, when it cools off. I lower the anchor and chain into the 5 foot deep water, again not bothering to give it a set. With this weather the chance of wind seems non existent, and I have great confidence in the Rochna. I looked down at it while securing the deck for the night, and it was lying right beneath the boat, with the chain lying loosely in the submerged grass.
The afternoon is hot, right at 90 degrees, and water temp in this shallow bay is up to 70. It doesn’t take me long to slip in. It feels great, and I paddle around, sitting on my throw cushion, for 15 or 20 minutes. There’s still time to read, while Sandy takes a nap. It’s 5:30 and neither of us are hungry yet, so we row ashore and go for a walk. We find a trail and, to our surprise, it leads us to that park we walked out to a couple days ago, while staying at the marina. The mosquitoes are very pesky, though, so we return to the dinghy with a spring in our step. Dinner sounds good now. Sandy prepares an egg batter and dips our walleye fillets in it, then coats them with Panko. Lightly seasoned with onion sald and dill, fried in oil, they turn out golden. A few drops of lemon juice is the perfect touch. We keep things simple and light, accompanying the fish with sun chips, our version of fish and chips. Cups of chilled mandarin oranges completes the meal.