Written by GCI 2020 Brand Ambassador Matt Luna

For all of us, 2020 has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. It began as a seemingly normal year, but so much was waiting ahead. Maybe you were making summer vacation plans, looking forward to a camping trip, wanting that new GCI Outdoor chair, but then March came upon us and everything came to a halt. The coronavirus took over, and the term “social distancing” became mainstream.

I remember learning that schools were closing while at work in mid-March. This caused my two children to stay home, and my wife was also sent home to work remotely. My job was considered essential, so I still went into work each day.

These changes spurred so many questions and we had no idea what to expect. The uncertainty was tough but still seemed manageable—and then news broke in San Diego County that all of our lakes would be closed. For an avid fisherman like myself, this was devastating.

I would be on Facebook or Instagram and see people in Arizona and across the nation still fishing, and it would really affect my mood. I tried to stay distracted, and had some “honey do” projects to check off the list, including building a raised flower bed so my wife could plant vegetables and fruit. These distractions only worked for so long, and not being able to spend time outside fishing took its toll. I had to figure out a way to catch some fish.

With the San Diego lakes closed, I began a wider search for a lake where I could fish. I found that I could drive north and weave my way through Los Angeles, or head east and fish in the desert of Yuma, Arizona on the Colorado River. Either way, a roughly 3-hour drive would be necessary to get back on the water. I chose to head to Arizona and launch my boat into the Colorado River. 

I woke up at 3 AM, got into my truck with the boat in tow, and drove 3 hours to the launch ramp at Fisher’s Landing. After arriving at the ramp and launching the boat, I had to figure out how to catch some fish. I hadn’t fished there in years! The fishing wasn’t great, but I put my head down, focused, and managed to catch a few fish. Just the fact that I was able to get out on the water and catch anything made that 3-hour return trip home much easier.

Unfortunately, nothing changed too quickly and the San Diego County lakes remained closed. I made the 6-hour round trip to the Colorado River a couple more times, but by this point my family was also feeling the effects of quarantine and was becoming a little stir crazy.  We had to get out!

Being the fisherman I am, I wanted to find somewhere with a lake and a place I could launch the boat. With some research, my knowledge about Arizona, and the fact that my youngest was really longing for a camping trip in a “camper van,” we decided to rent a trailer and go camping at Lake Havasu in Arizona. We packed up our GCI Outdoor camping chairs and tables, hooked the boat to the truck, and made the 5-hour drive from San Diego to Lake Havasu.

We arrived at the Islander Resort in Lake Havasu, and the trailer had already been delivered in the spot we reserved. We got our Slim-Fold Cook Station, FirePit Rocker, Slim-Fold Event Chair, and 3-Position Folding Director’s Chair set up outside the trailer. Finally, it was time to relax, have some quality family time, play in the water, and of course catch some fish.

The camping trip at Lake Havasu was a blast. The weather was hot, but the clear water was always refreshing. My days started out by waking up before the sun was up, launching the boat, and catching a few largemouth and smallmouth bass. Mid-morning, I’d drive back to the ramp and pick up my family, and we’d go find a nice secluded area to play in the water and relax. After the long days out on the water it was nice to come back to camp, have all the GCI Outdoor chairs and tables at the ready—and and of course, the s’mores made the evenings even better!

Some of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus has revealed itself, but so much is still a mystery. San Diego began the reopening process, but in July 2020 it started closing back down due to a spike in cases. We still don’t know what the future looks like, or what school will look like for the kids, or when my wife will be able to return to working onsite. Thankfully, though, the San Diego County lakes have reopened and I know I’ll be able to stay sane by fishing through quarantine.