I already wrote this story for the Herald and Newslast year, so rather than spend too much time on the blog, you can just click here.
There were some solid photos my brother, Gabe Ovgard, gave me just recently, though, so I’ll share those here.
I don’t love doing “Photo Essays” on my blog, but since I already told the story, and these pics are solid, we’ll break that rule.
Though Gabe spent most of his time shooting pictures, he did fish some.
No, I didn’t use a spinner long. The baits/lures of choice? A swimbait (seriously, a Chinook hit it in the current) and a pink jig.
We fished hard, but the weather was terrible, and we weren’t at all dressed for it. That meant lunch at a local brewpub, a change of clothes, and a last-ditch attempt in the evening.
We finished with just two fish.
I don’t normally like the “Combat Fishing” you see so often on rivers in the Pacific Northwest, but this fishery (at least, further upriver) isn’t too crowded.
I returned in 2018 to find a river that hadn’t seen enough rain, so the fish there were practically dead. On that return trip, I snagged one fish and landed zero. Not fun after driving the better part of an entire day.
It’s worth doing once or twice, but I doubt I’ll be back to that river. If you want to target chums, go further up the Washington Coast to the fisheries that are still viable.
Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #106 — Rio Grande Cichlid.
Species: Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Location: Humboldt Bay, Eureka, CA Date: August 11, 2013
This trip was something special. With my brother and a few of his friends, we opted to go to the Central California Coast. Of course fishing was on the docket, but my main reason for the trip was Glass Beach, California, a location not far from Fort Bragg.
We stayed in Woodland on the way down, with my Uncle Sam and Aunt Mary, and after parting ways, we headed west to the coast.
Everything went south from there. Since this story will be an upcoming column this summer (it already ran, so read it here), I won’t go into too much detail, but basically these things happened:
1) My headlights went out as I made my way north along Highway 1 (a notoriously windy and dangerous road), and we basically drove blind.
2) We couldn’t afford a hotel, and there were no showers, so we paid for a carwash after visiting Glass Beach to wash each other off. We used the car to block traffic, as we stripped down to our underwear and pressure washed one another.
3) Glass Beach itself was a disappointment. Years of unregulated commercial gathering had destroyed this once-beautiful destination.
4) I took a salmon charter out of Eureka. I caught mostly Coho Salmon (which had to be released), but I did manage to catch a few Chinooks.
5) The largest salmon boated was nearly taken by a sea lion. Fortunately for the angler who caught it, the gaff can be a persuasive tool.
That was more or less it. I’ll keep it simple because I don’t want to cannibalize my own writing.
Species: Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Location: Puget Sound, Seattle, WA Date: July 23, 2013
Washington has some tremendous fisheries. For that reason, it’s strange that I spent so long without fishing this state.
In fact, when I left on this trip in my newly-purchased 2002 Honda CR-V with my friends Ben Blanchard and his then-girlfriend (now-wife) Autumn, it wasn’t a fishing trip.
I packed some fishing rods because, of course, but I really had no idea when or where I’d be fishing.
Instead, we’d traveled north to Sequim, Washington for the Lavender Festival. It wasn’t really my idea, but I like to travel, and I’d never been to that part of Washington State before.
We made it up safely, and the sight, sound, smell, and taste of lavender permeated everything. I supposed you could say it purpletrated our senses completely because we moved from farm to farm and sampled honey, jam, baked goods, lemonade, and every other food or beverage you can infuse with lavender.
It was delightful.
Though I was a bit skeptical about going to a festival dedicated to flowers, it actually turned out great. It was beautiful and an all-around great experience.
We made sure to take a lot of pictures of the majestic scenery, and despite my low-quality camera, they turned out pretty well.
Though fishing was at the back of my mind, it was still present. Obviously.
I began planning trips here and there, and apart from a brief stop at the famed Lake Crescent where I tried for the Beardslee strain of Rainbow Trout and several stops at small coastal streams in pursuit of Bull Trout, I hadn’t spent enough time fishing.
So as we goofed off and frolicked in the lavender, taking a mock photo shoot, my wheels really began to spin.
The actual fishing trip came a day or two after the festival ended. After riding my first ferry and dining on some delicious Nepalese food when the three of us met up with our friends Christopher Puckett and Logan Moore — both of whom were attending school in Seattle at the time — I crashed hard.
Boarding the boat on two hours’ sleep was rough.
I struggled to stay awake as we ran out to our location, but All-Star Charters was a decent charter operation. We trolled for fish. Though it wasn’t my favorite method, it worked, and we picked up a number of Coho Salmon — my first.
Over the day, I landed two total fish, and added a new species.
Salmon trolling is boring, but it can be effective.
Everything had panned out, but next time, I would make sure to prioritize fishing just a little more. It’s a mantra I’ve lived by ever since.
Species: Kokanee Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) Location: Odell Lake, OR Date: August 6, 2005
As a kid, I think I fished from a boat maybe half a dozen times. For that reason, I remember every time I had this opportunity afforded only to the wealthy very clearly.
When the family headed to Odell Lake for the first time, I worked my early teenage charms on my parents to convince them to rent a boat.
“The limit is 25 kokanee,” I argued.
“The boat will pay for itself.”
After spending nearly $100 on jigs, spoons, spinners, and flashers, another $50 for the boat rental was gravy.
As we loaded our trout poles — complete with undersized reels spooled with six-pound mono — onto the boat, we spotted several anglers cleaning stringer after stringer of chrome-bright kokanee, and we were very optimistic.
Many of my fishing stories from this stage in my life begin with naivete and end with disappointment.
This is one such story.
Despite trolling all over the bloody lake, somehow snagging half of the gear in water more than 100 feet deep, and losing two very nice fish (likely either big Browns, Bulls, or Lakers) on our way to matching sunburns, we’d picked up just a handful of fish.
The day was redeemed when we picked up a few fish jigging Gibbs and Nordic Kokanee Jigs, though that was just my family. I still only had one fish.
I was quite proud to have landed the largest fish, a 14-inch buck, which is really quite sad if you think about it.
The handful of fish we boated came home with us, as most fish we caught in my youth did. They tasted delicious, but it was a small consolation for an otherwise disappointing trip.
It would be more than a decade before I landed kokanee again, but the two fish pictured in this post did come on back-to-back casts in the fall of 2014. These ones were much larger, but I misidentified them as pre-spawn rainbows and released them.
I’ve since caught a lot more kokanee, but I haven’t kept another. This I regret and plan to change. Hopefully very soon.