"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Camping, when a river runs through it: Part II

By Molly O'Shea guest author

Cherry’s "river through the tent" story [see title link, above] reminds me of the time I went trout fishing along the Turkey River up in northeast Iowa.

sunset on the Turkey River, Iowa * Photo courtesy of Spillville, IA Early in the night, it started raining. I didn’t know this until there was a clap of thunder and I sat straight up in my sleeping bag. Looking for the flashlight, I discovered a stream of water running through the tent. We weren’t in a creek bed, but it was raining hard enough there was water coming down the hillside like it was a water slide. My backpack was trying to act as a levee and failing miserably.

We heard a few shrieks and screams outside and went to see what was happening. Everyone was abandoning tents and heading for cars. That’s when I heard one of my friends saying some choice words about forgetting her contact case. (This was back in the days of hard contacts and taking them out every night.)

Her husband told her to put them in anything she could find in the car, he wasn’t going back to the tent in that rain, and to go to sleep. What she found was a paper cup half full of root beer, so she said a few more words about sugar, sticky and not being able to see tomorrow. Finally everyone settled down and tried to sleep.

When we crawled out in the morning, the river had risen several feet and you could see the line between the clear water and the cloudy water from the rain. A conservation officer (who was a trout fisherman) came around and told us not to try to drive out of there, yet. He said it was the biggest flood they’d seen in a long time on the Turkey River, but it was still good fishing. Just aim for the line between the clear and cloudy water.

roaring river fishing courtesy of Zimbio.com We decided to give it a try. We had these little red wiggler worms and they really lived up to their name. I wasn’t about to touch one, much less try to thread it on a hook. Don, my friend’s husband, was closest to me and all he would do was laugh. Not being one to give up, I dug in my tackle box until I found a needle nose pliers and picked up my first worm. Holding the hook in one hand (one of those teeny, tiny little trout hooks) and the worm with the pliers, I soon realized that wasn’t going to work. My hand was too close and the worm kept touching me.

Again, I dug around in the tackle box and finally came up with a pair of regular pliers. Now I was in business. Taking the hook with the regular pliers and the worm with the needle nose, I set about baiting my hook. This is when Don looked over and saw what I was doing. The next thing I knew, he was half in the water and in danger of falling the rest of the way into the river, due to his fits of laughter.

A bit later, with the sun finally shining, we laid out our sleeping bags, and my cloths, to dry. (Yes, I went fishing in my jammies.) We still didn’t dare to move any of the cars, so we rummaged around to find what we could for lunch. That is, to eat with my fish. Yes, I was the one who caught the fish. Apparently they liked the metallic flavor of my worms.

Reprinted by permission from Molly O'Shea.

See Molly's article published at Helium.com

Read Molly's profile at Helium.com


  1. Molly, really enjoyed this story, and wanted to share it with other campers. Actually, sounds like you all had a great time, despite the flood!


  2. Jim, I'm glad you liked my story. Thanks for posting it here, for all to share.

    We did have a good time. At times I've wondered if it was more because of the flood, instead of despite the flood. It didn't go exactly as we had planned, but that sure made it memorable!


  3. I've heard of working in your pajamas, but not fishing. Great!

  4. Hi Molly, great blog!

    I own www.chicoratravel.com and wondered if I could get a link from your cool blogs list (if my blog is cool enough :) )?

    Sorry to leave a comment, I couldnt find how to contact you!

    You can email me at info@chicoratravel.com



  5. Where's the camera when you need one? Worms, fish and p.j's sound like the perfect photo op.

    Great story, Molly!