Species #80 — Klamath Largescale Sucker

My first IGFA All-Tackle World Record was this Klamath Largescale Sucker. I’ve yet to catch another one.

Species: Klamath Largescale Sucker (Catostomus snyderi)
Location: Sprague River, Sprague River, Oregon
Date: November 6, 2016

While I occasionally reference and link to articles I’ve written for the Herald and News or other newspapers on my blog, I try to generate new content for this site. But every now and then, I’ve already told the story of a new species in a way I like and don’t want to change, and the story of my first IGFA All-Tackle World Record is one such story.

Check out this story, as originally written for the Herald and News  by clicking this link and feel free to check out my record by clicking here.

Tight lines!

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #81 — Whitespotted Greenling.

Species #78 — Thicklip Gray Mullet

This fish isn’t unique to Portugal, but it was my first European catch: Thicklip Gray Mullet.

Species: Thicklip Gray Mullet (Chelon labrosus)
Location: Lisboa City Center, Lisbon, Portugal
Date: July 7, 2016

Traveling internationally is a phenomenal opportunity. It’s even better when it’s free.

I was selected to travel together with a group of fellow teachers through the Center for Geography in Oregon (C-GEO), the state-level National Geographic affiliate, to learn about the geography of Iberia and then teach it in the classroom.

In short, I became a Teacher-Consultant for National Geographic, and I had an all-expenses-paid trip to Portugal and Spain.

Though these wouldn’t have been my first travel destinations, I’d never been to Europe before. In fact, I’d never even been to a country that wasn’t a former part of the British Empire (I’d only been to the USA, Canada, and New Zealand at that point), so I figured it would be a culturally-immersive experience.

***

Long before landing in Lisbon, our first stop, I researched fishing opportunities in the city. There is very little freshwater fishing culture in Portugal, and what was available was all in Portuguese.

That said, I refused to admit defeat and packed my rods.

Tragically, the inland fishing in Portugal is terrible. There’s little water and even less fish in that water, invasive Common Carp having displaced most of the awesome native species like Andalusian Barbel.

So after several attempts to find fish in the 10-plus-miles of walking we did every day, I was a little disappointed. The only places that had fish were tourist traps with Goldfish and other ornamental offerings not really ideal for fishing — especially given that night fishing of any sort is illegal in Portugal.

To further complicate matters, fishing licenses are only available from a Multibanco machine. This effectively means getting a fishing license as a nonresident is all-but-impossible. In fact, they only have one kind of fishing license, and you must have an account with Multibanco to buy it.

After trying to pay several locals to buy one for me, I eventually gave up and decided to just risk fishing without one. From what I could find online, fishing was barely regulated, and you usually just had to pay a small fine if you were found fishing without a license.

I risked it.

***

License (or lack thereof) sorted out, I moved on to bait. Since most species still surviving in Central and Southern Portugal’s fresh waters aren’t predatory — save for the widely introduced Largemouth Bass — I had to find bait. Worms were nowhere, and since the culture only really cares about saltwater fishing, inland tackle shops don’t exist.

My obvious choices were corn and bread, but American-style bread is almost impossible to find, so it meant trying to stick bits of pastries (the only bread I could get to stay on a hook) on baitholder single and treble hooks.

It was rough, to say the least.

Fortunately, there was  and abundance of beautiful architecture to keep me busy, including the Torre de Belem.

Torre de Belem is a former naval watchtower near the Port of Lisboa.

***

The Euro Cup was in full swing during my visit, and Portugal was making a strong showing. They’d go on to win before I left the country, so that made the experience really enjoyable.

I watched one match on a massive, 50-foot outdoor screen maybe 200 yards from the river’s edge, and I was offered drugs more times that night than in the rest of my life combined. 21. I now know what meth, black tar heroine, cocaine, and and everything else you can ingest to kill brain cells looks like.

I took a quick break from the game and noticed a small, seemingly enclosed area with fish in it.

I would be back tomorrow with fishing gear.

***

When I finally found fishable water, it was in a small concrete diversion pond maybe 100 yards from the edge of the Prime Minister’s Residence. Armed guards were everywhere, and I fully expected to be arrested or shot at. Fortunatley, I made it very clear I was fishing, made no sudden moves, and the one guard nearby kept an eye on me.

Not a great location.

To further complicate matters, the only fish I could see in the clearish water were mullet, a fish notoriously difficult to catch.

The final factor working against me was the 105-degree heat. Standing in direct sunlight, I was sapped of energy with every second in the sun.

After nearly an hour, I finally got one to nibble my  bread and set the hook.

The guard kept looking at me and talking on his radio, but once he saw I had a fish on, he smiled and must’ve realized I wasn’t a sniper waiting to behead the government.

I lost that fish.

After two hours or so, I opted to just snag the damn things. That’s easier said than done with light line while fishing 30 feet above the water’s surface for relatively small fish, but I finally got one.

I grabbed a quick photo, and the guard gave me a smile and a thumbs-up. I guess I wasn’t going to be shot or imprisoned after all.

The guard is just out of frame over my right shoulder.

Later, I’d identify it as a Thicklip Gray Mullet. A new species, sure, but unfortunatley one that is actually found in the New World, as well.

I spent another hour trying with bread again but to no avail.

The fish I caught seemed to be the only species present, and I didn’t want to push my luck, so I got out of there.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #79 — Striped Mullet.

Species #79 — Striped Mullet

The only mullet species I’ve ever hooked in the mouth was this Striped Mullet I caught on bread just before dark on the Guadalquivir Riverwalk in Sevilla, Spain.

Species: Striped Mullet (Chelon labrosus)
Location: Guadalquivir River, Seville, Spain
Date: July 13, 2016

My second European species was another mullet found in the United States. Not ideal, but I was happy. From what I’ve found online, this fish is actually raised for commercial harvest in Seville, Spain where I caught it.

***

Finding water that didn’t have just Goldfish in Europe was difficult. The construction of the Spanish Armada effectively deforested Spain, and their agriculture-first water policies have basically left a hot, dry desert with lots of dried-up riverbeds and lakes-turned-mud puddles.

It’s honestly a cautionary tale for how not to manage fisheries, but I digress.

The only place I found water to fish in Seville was the Guadalquivir River, a channelized river with a large, concrete-lined riverwalk.

Though it fails in so many other areas, Spain encourages street art, so the concrete is beautifully-decorated with graphic art at every turn. It makes for a unique, modern aesthetic.

Street Art is encouraged in Spain, and artists could be seen painting over inappropriate words and pictures with acceptable graphical displays like these during broad daylight.

***

When I finally had a chance to get to the river, I’d been able to find only corn and bread, so my bait options were limited. I tried casting out into the river in hopes of catching an Andalusian Barbel (the fish I’d booked a guide for in Portugal but struck out on that you can read about here). The river was channelized and had a tiled, concrete bottom as well, which basically made fishing with a traditional on-bottom setup hopeless.

After breaking off half a dozen times, I switched my attention to the mullet feeding on the surface.

Eventually, I coaxed one into biting my bread ball.

It was my first Striped Mullet.

I landed another shortly thereafter, but since Spain only sells fishing licenses at three or four regional offices in the entire country and fishing is not allowed at night, I decided not to press my luck.

***

Eventually, I found a pond with Crucian Carp x Goldfish Hybrids in a park in Madrid, but since it wasn’t pure, I didn’t count it as a new species. Maybe I should have? Read the unique story about handlining in a public park for those hybrid fish while fighting off turtles and ducks here.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #80 — Klamath Largescale Sucker.

Species #77 — Blue Chub

The Blue Chub looks a lot like the more well-known Tui Chub to the untrained eye. Look for a blue-green tint, a mouth that is less rubbery and more like a trout’s, and smaller scales.

Species: Blue Chub (Gila coerulea)
Location: Lost River, Clear Lake, CA
Date: June 29, 2016

I drove almost 100 miles and spent hours in a car on a windy, gravel road. I fished in Clear Lake Reservoir that serves as the headwaters of Lost River, and I eventually got my quarry in the river below the dam.

This all sounds great but for the fact that the Blue Chub is actually super-common in Upper Klamath Lake. In fact, I’ve since paid attention and found it to be more common than Tui Chub.

How great is that?

***

The fish pictured above was actually caught at Topsy in the spring before I went to Northern California, but since I hadn’t yet learned to tell them apart from Tui Chub,  I hadn’t even counted it or given the Blue Chub its due.

The fish I captured in Lost River that day took a partial worm. I got no other hits, and it was an uneventful day in which my allergies almost killed me.

This Blue Chub came from the headwaters of the Lost River and looked more distinctive and aligned better with the textbook descriptions of this species than most of the fish I’ve caught locally since then.

It definitely wasn’t the first unnecessary drive for a species in my backyard, but now that I’ve caught every native in Klamath County save for the endangered Miller Lake Lamprey — at least, at time of writing July 1, 2018.

Still, it was a nice change of pace. I’d never fished Lost River above the Harpold Road dam before.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #78 — Thicklip Gray Mullet.

Species #76 — Goldfish

After years of trying (yes, really) my first Goldfish came as a complete surprise.

Species: Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
Location: Long Tom River, Monroe, OR
Date: June 23, 2016

I spent countless hours trying to catch a bloody goldfish. It’s embarrassing in more ways than one, I know.

Topsy Reservoir was the obvious choice, as Goldfish represent more than 50 percent of the whole biomass there, but I just couldn’t get one of the small reverted specimens or the larger, more traditionally colored ones to bite. Some of these fish run five pounds or more, but I never could figure it out. Lame.

So the day I went carp fishing at Long Tom River and caught this pretty little guy above, I was shocked and excited. It was far from glamorous, but anyone fishing Long Tom knows it’s not a glamorous place.

Apparently, all you need to do to catch a target species is not try for them at all.

***

Long Tom has since produced several  more Goldfish for me. Nothing large and all were reverted, though.

What it did produce was a Common Carp x Goldfish Hybrid. And then another.

This unique fish just didn’t have the mouth of a carp. Further investigation revealed the number of scales on the lateral line was off, and the mouth, although subterminal like a carp’s, did not extend downward like a vacuum and was mysteriously missing barbels. Both of the hybrids I caught were between one and two pounds.

Long Tom is a cess pool for invasive species. I have caught a few puss-gut hatchery trout and a single Largemouth Bass, but otherwise, it’s carp, goldfish, and bullheads for days.

The carp and occasional Goldfish are fun to catch, so I stomach the less-than-desirable location.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #77 — Blue Chub.06

Species #75 — Yellow Bullhead

The Yellow Bullhead looks a lot like Brown Bullhead in some waters, but in Long Tom River, the yellows live up to their name.

Species: Yellow Bullhead (Ameiurus natalis)
Location: Long Tom River, Monroe, OR
Date: June 20, 2016

This was a phenomenal day. I caught a total of 50 fish, including Common Carp, Brown Bullhead, and Yellow Bullhead, the latter being a new species. Strangely enough, all fish took corn. The bullheads were ravenous but annoying as bullheads tend to be.

As for identification, Yellow Bullheads can actually be yellowish like this one, but the easiest way to tell them apart from other species is to look at their chin barbels. A Yellow Bullhead’s are white or yellowish while a Brown Bullhead’s are darker.

This was a busy day, and I learned to “ghost set” for carp this skittish. Basically, you’ll know the carp are feeding nearby, so many of the hooksets should come even if you don’t feel a bite. Just wait a few seconds and lift up, and you’ll often catch carp. The bullheads nibbled pretty overtly, so they weren’t quite as unique a catch.

As bullheads are invasive and worthless, I killed every one I caught.

Carp are invasive but at least fun to catch, so I let those go.

I know. I’m a monster.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #76 — Goldfish.

Species #74 — Redear Sunfish

These guys have all sorts of hicknames down south, but their proper name is Redear Sunfish.

Species: Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
Location: E.E. Wilson Pond, Corvallis, OR
Date: June 18, 2016

Though the movie Ready Player One was entirely different from the book, both media outlets were phenomenal. Though I’m not much of a gamer anymore, I still love books about the art of the game.

For that reason, I’d like to share the most gamified experience of my fishing career.

Welcome to the Legend of Wilson: Redear in Time.

INSERT COIN

INSERT COIN

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Player One — Start

*Music plays softly before reaching a crescendo.*

Background: After a long day traveling to Corvallis to visit your brother, you find you have some extra time. Not wanting to waste the waning daylight hours, you decide to chase a species you’ve never caught before, the Redear Sunfish. You’ve learned they can be found at the E.E. Wilson Pond, a mere 30 miles from your brother’s house.

CONTINUE?

*You click YES*

Objective: You have about three hours of daylight left. Locate E.E. Wilson Pond and catch your Redear Sunfish.

*A sudden ticking noise begins in the background.*

Time Left Until Dark: 3:00:00.

Level One: Gearing Up

Checking my starting inventory, I realized I had rods and reels, hooks, and line. I wouldn’t need to climb into the belly of a great tree to find my basic weapons, but I needed ammo for these weapons nonetheless.

*You look down at your fishing pole and realize something is missing.*

A shrill voice sounded in my head, whispering “Bait. Bait. You need bait.”

I had no bait, and this late in the year, you need worms or crickets or grasshoppers to seriously target sunfish.

I could track down worms, but that would mean losing time. This first step involved information gathering.

I asked my brother Gabe where the closest sporting goods store was.

He told me it was Big 5.

I called and struck out before that storyline could even begin. They don’t sell worms.

I asked his roommate Trent if he knew of any other spots.

“I think Bi-Mart sells them, but that’s almost back in Philomath,” Trent said.

The closest location still open that sells worms would cost me about 40 minutes all told, but it was a necessity. I accepted the subquest.

The traffic was killer, and I had to defeat several cops in the game of intermittently speed whenever possible, but I made it with time to spare.

Entering the store, I was asked for a Bi-Mart card, which I didn’t have. I could jump the gate, fight my way in, or use a third option. My Charisma stat was high enough, so I chose that option and made it past the checkpoint.

I was in. Worms.

Racing through the aisles, I finally found my target. Carefully, I avoided the pitfalls noobs always succumb to and checked to make sure the worms were alive.

Good thing I checked. After five or six cans, I’d beaten the minigame and claimed my prize.

Time Left Until Dark: 2:33:00.

Level Two: Fog of War

I thought this would be easy. I loaded “E.E. Wilson Pond” into my phone, and I was promptly directed to a location about 30 minutes north of Corvallis.

*Ticking gets louder.*

Minutes into my drive, I noticed the ticking sound in the background soundtrack sped up slightly. I was 30 minutes into the game.

After arriving, I quickly realized the waterway wasn’t E.E. Wilson Pond. I could gamble and fish it, hoping to find a Redear, but this fish was incredibly rare in Oregon, and I didn’t like my odds.

As I sat in the parking lot, wasting valuable time, the background soundtrack sped up again, and I realized I was down to two hours.

Frantic, I regrouped and completed the level uneventfully, checking the first location off my World Map.

For some reason, service was poor, and I wasn’t showing up. Maybe I had to earn the Compass.

*Ticking gets louder.*

I checked the time.

Time Left Until Dark: 1:58:30.

Level Three: The False Positive

I opened my World Map again — how I hate this app sometimes — and located the next location that seemed likely.

I drove like mad, arriving at a pond near the Fish and Wildlife Office. I unloaded my gear, but my Strength wasn’t high enough to carry all that gear, so I had to unload some of it for the journey.

I tried fishing.

The bait wasn’t working. It wasn’t long before I noticed a small pink lure snagged on a log. If video games had taught me anything, it was that the sinking lure always catches bigger fish, but I wasn’t after bigger fish, and I had no time for sidequests — even if that meant leveling up.

After deciding to stick with the main quest for now, another angler approached me.

I readied my weapon, but realized it was a friendly NPC (Non-Panfish Catcher).

I was informed by the only other angler there that this wasn’t the main pond. It had carp and bass and bluegill, but according to him, it wasn’t the main pond.

A quick survey of the area directed me to a hidden sign. The signage backed him up. I was not in the right place.

Eff.

Time Left Until Dark: 1:36:14.

I cursed, hurriedly gathered up my gear, and suddenly, a boss appeared.

Another guy showed up and kept talking to me. He kept talking, and I had no idea how to peel him away. I tried the subtle hint strategy, but this boss was clearly immune to that.

I tried dancing around his words, but his questions were specific and targeted at me, and he kept landing blows. I was about out of health when I realized I didn’t have to defeat him; just escape him.

The single trail to the pond was blocked by his hulking form, so I returned fire with a question about the water clarity. He let down his guard and moved to the water’s edge to look, as I said “Never mind. I figured it out. Thanks!” and sped down the now-open escape route to my car. He followed, but the earlier choice to travel light paid off. My Speed was clearly higher than his, and I got free.

Service improved in the parking lot, and I added the Compass to my inventory, showing me where I was on the World Map. This made things much easier.

I’d defeated the boss, and the victory sounds of my car radio told me Level Three was done just as the time once again sped up.

*Ticking gets louder.*

Time Left Until Dark: 1:30:00.

Level Three: Final Destination

This time I found it. At least, I thought. The signage clearly indicated I was at E.E. Wilson Pond, but the trees were thicker than an Instagram model, and the paths leading there didn’t seem to be well-signed.

The parking lot stated a warning, though:

“Warning:
Park Closes at Dusk.
No Overnight Parking.
Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed.”

Well, this moved up my timeline. I couldn’t fish until dark. No, I now had to be back out of the dungeon with my fish caught before dark or risk being towed and earning the GAME OVER.

Yikes.

I loaded my gear, pulled up the World Map, and quickly worked my way through the maze, avoiding bees, snakes, cyclists, and other monsters lurking in the dungeon ahead. I could outrun them all, though it drained my stamina, but I was in an all-out race.

If I was caught, it was GAME OVER, and I wasn’t going to let that happen.

Time passed, and eventually I found a long wooden bridge through the woods. It felt like a trap, but I stepped onto it.

The Bridge of Destiny was a sign I was going the right way.

Halfway across the bridge, a pair of cyclists spawned and tried to knock me off. I stood firm, and they passed on both sides of me, further dropping my health, as I twisted my ankle to avoid them on the blind corner.

Fearing they’d return, I hurried to the end of the bridge.

Just then, an old man appeared from around the next blind corner, the rhythmic treble from his too-loud headphones serving to tell me he was essential to my quest.

I asked him where the pond was, unsure if he was there as a sage to guide me or as another boss.

The former proved true, and he directed me, telling me I was close, but “You won’t have much time to fish. It’s almost dark.”

He wasn’t wrong. This quest was do or die.

I ran through the woods, avoiding the buzzing of bees in the distance.

Finally, I made it to what appeared to be an earthen dike. This had to be the pond. Unfortunately, a final obstacle kept me from the water: mud.

*Ticking gets louder.*

It was a relatively steep slope up, and it was thick, sucking mud. The Shoes of Nike would prove necessary when I ran back to the car after (hopefully) catching my Redear, as they provided +3 Speed, a boost I would need on the run back.

Barefoot, I looked over the rim of the dike to see a weed-choked pond.

I’d made it.

Apparently I hadn’t heard the time speed up again, and in my twisting and turning through the maze, the dead-ends, and the false ponds, I hadn’t realized the two-mile-long walk/run had cost me.

Time Left Until Dark: 0:58:19.

Level Four: Boss Battle

It was time. Everything I’d worked towards was about to come to fruition. It was do or die.

I consulted my Journal to read what little information I’d gathered on this quest about the Redear:

“The Redear is one of the largest species of sunfish,” it read, “but it can be one of the most difficult to catch.”

Great.

I threw out one pole with a bait rig and fished a small jig with the other, aware that dividing my attention could cause the boss to defeat me.

As is always the case, I battled Bluegill and Brown Bullhead, smaller monsters sent by the Final Boss to distract me.

*Ticking gets louder.*

Time Left Until Dark: 0:30:00.

Then, my bait pole got a good tug, and the fight was on. It ran left, then right. We did battle, but I was so determined, so motivated, I let it dance before finally pulling it in.

I assumed it was another Bluegill until the telltale red strip on the gill plate told me otherwise. I’d done it. I’d caught Redear in Time! At least, I would be close.

I had just under 19 minutes left. It would be a battle.

Cleaning off my feet in the dirty water, I slipped back into the Shoes of Nike, buttoned up my gear and prepared for a race to the finish.

*Ticking gets louder.*

At this point, I had less than 15 minutes left, and I wasn’t quite sure where to go. I’d snaked in and out covered almost every possible trail because the individual pathways through the dungeon hadn’t shown up on my World Map.

I’d have to wing it and hope for the most direct route.

I heard the mocking, maniacal laughter of Andross and Gannon, Bowser and Tartarus, the Elusive Man and Sephiroth all coaleascing into one evil presence just on my heels as I ran for all I was worth.

*Ticking gets louder.*

At 10 minutes, I hit a dead end and had to regroup.

I tripped and landed on a rod, breaking off an eyelet, but the rod remained intact.

It was almost pitch black now, and I didn’t think I would make it. I couldn’t run with my Flashlight up because I’d opted not to buy the Headlamp at the Shop earlier in the game. How I regretted that.

*Ticking gets louder.*

Five minutes to go. I was out of breath, so I stopped to check the World Map one more time. I was close. Very close, but a thicket of trees separated me from my car. I cut through some trees, hoping I wouldn’t get poison oak, and I again found myself at the Bridge of Destiny.

This was it. I knew I was close because despite having found this after lots of aimless wandering, I was only one turn and a straight stretch from the parking lot.

I booked it.

*Ticking gets so loud, you can’t hear your own thoughts.*

I arrived at the car soaked in sweat, just to see an idling Fish and Wildlife vehicle waiting for my car to leave. I quickly loaded my gear, and the truck drove off, content that I was leaving.

As my tires hit the pavement, I looked at my phone.

Time Left Until Dark: 0:00:11.

The credits rolled upwards on my HUD as I tallied Species #74 — Redear Sunfish. This was a hard game, and replay value seemed to be minimal, so I decided to move onto another game, a shooter: Yellow Bullhead Flats.

THE END

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #75 — Yellow Bullhead.

Species #73 — Copper Rockfish

I caught this fish under the Coast Guard station. They eventually saw us and gave us a “random inspection” before encouraging us to leave.

Species: Copper Rockfish (Sebastus caurinus)
Location: Yaquina Bay, Newport, OR
Date: March 24, 2016

If you’ve never been on the open ocean on a small boat intended for use in the lake, then you haven’t lived.

My first trip was on a 17-foot Bayliner with high gunwales out of the Port of Brookings-Habor. It was a little rough, but I wasn’t worried.

My second trip was on a 14-foot flat-bottomed aluminum duck boat, and I was more than a little worried.

Fortunately, before we made it to the end of the bar, the Coast Guard stopped us and told us the bar was closed to small vessels. I was equal parts disappointed and relieved.

My friend, Eric Elenfeldt, was a phenomenal boater, and if I were to go on the ocean in a tiny vessel with anyone, I’d want him driving, but still. It was a rough bar that day.

We made the best of it, dropped our crab pot, and started fishing. He picked up a Red Irish Lord, his first, and we started catching a few rockfish here and there. Before long, the sheet rain started, and we took cover under the Coast Guard station’s large platform. It was the best decision we made all day.

Almost instantly, we caught fish.

Small Lingcod at first and then my first Copper Rockfish obliged me. Then several more.

Smedium Copper Rockfish and small Lingcod were the bulk of the catch here.

Eventually, the guys on the platform spotted us and performed a “random inspection” even though Eric’s inspection sticker was clearly visible on the side of the boat.

They gently asked us not to fish there because it was a matter of national security, and though I’m pretty sure they can’t do that on a navigable waterway, we moved.

It wasn’t long before we saw them fishing from the platform. Huh.

The rest of the day was slow as we struggled to find fish, but we’d learned something: the Coast Guard defends its fishing spots as well as they defend the lives of those out on the ocean.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #74 — Redear Sunfish.

Species #72 — Spotted Bass

My one and only Spotted Bass came on a deep-diving crankbait.

Species: Spotted Bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
Location: Shasta Lake, Lake Shasta City, CA
Date: January 1, 2016

The fact that I lived three hours from Shasta Lake and didn’t catch a Spot for nearly 26 years is pitiful. Granted, I only fished Shasta like twice and then only for trout, but still. It’s a disgrace.

You know what’s even worse? Since I caught this fish, I haven’t fished Spot water, and I haven’t caught another.

***

Marcus Moss, Zach Weiting, and I decided to head to Shasta on New Year’s Day to chase bass. I mean, they’re supposed to feed actively all winter in warmer climates, and Redding is certainly a warmer winter destination than Klamath, so it seemed like a good bet.

It didn’t start off very well, though.

The water was so low, each of the three ramps Marcus usually fished were well out of the water, and we had to tool around until we found one at Bridge Bay that was usable. It was still a good 10 feet out of the water, but boat ahead of us seemed to have no trouble, so we went for it.

Already, more than an hour of fishing time had burned up when we got the boat in the water. None of us had waders, and the dock was too far from the boat, so the complications continued.

I volunteered to get wet (smart in mid-winter, right?) because I didn’t want to give up.

Once we got the boat in the water, it wouldn’t start.

Another hour passed as we re-trailered it, fiddled with it, and finally got it purring.

By now, it was well past noon, and it was supposed to be dark in four hours.

We spent two of those hours getting one fish apiece, all on deep-diving 10XD Crankbaits and then called it a day when the wind picked up past 25 MH.

That is the story of my first (and, as of June 23, 2018) last Spotted Bass.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #73 — Copper Rockfish.

Species #71 — Slender Sculpin

This is a terrible picture of a Slender Sculpin, but it is one of the few specimens I’ve caught that lives up to its name. Nightfishing makes good pictures difficult, but I’ll work on getting a better one.

Species: Slender Sculpin (Cottus tenuis)
Location: Link River, Klamath Falls, OR
Date: December 15, 2015

Some #SpeciesHunters only worry about fish caught in the mouth on hook and line.

Disclaimer: I’m not one of them. While 95% of my fish are caught this way, I personally count any species caught by legal means. There are numerous ways to fish, and snagging a fish, catching one by hand, shooting it with a bow, or spearfishing are all equally viable ways to fish — if legal.

This is the first species on my “Lifelist” that was first caught by means other than a hook in the mouth. Granted, I’ve since caught dozens of them the old-fashioned way since I discovered microfishing (S/O to Ben Cantrell for putting me onto that entirely new way of fishing), but I would count it even if that weren’t the case.

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This was a pretty uneventful fish. While trout fishing in the dead of winter in just about the only place worth fishing for trout in the dead of winter, Link River, I realized the water was really low. When this happens, I usually wade out to a few of my favorite rocks to look for lures snagged by hapless anglers out of their element.

I usually find a few.

That day, I found a few of the usually rusted-beyond-hope Rooster Tails and some terminal tackle, I found nothing noteworthy. That is, until I saw a small fish trapped in a small pool of water that had apparently been isolated there when the water level dropped.

It took a minute to grab the speedy little guy, but when I did, I’d just “landed” a Slender Sculpin. My first.

Since then, I’ve caught a few microfishing, and I even helped guide Species Hunting Legend Steve Wozniak to one when he came and visited last month.

Steve Wozniak’s first Slender Sculpin. It felt good to help him onto this fish even if I couldn’t get a great picture of it.

Now I catch them by sightfishing with micro gear at night, something I call night-micro-sight-fishing and something I think I’m a pioneer of, especially considering Steve said he didn’t really fish for sculpins at night.

Heck yeah, Luke.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #72 — Spotted Bass.