Category Archives: SpeciesQuest

Species #50 — Chinook Salmon

Though this is a jack (juvenile) and not the fish I caught that day, Chinook Salmon live up to the title of “King”.

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.

From left to right: my brother Gabe, his friends Nate Nickel and Will Brain, a much more physically-prime me (I worked out then and wore smaller shirts to make others aware of that crucial fact). Photo credit: Aunt Mary.

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.

Sea glass has always fascinated me. Though it pales in comparison to fishing, collecting it is one of my only other hobbies.

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.

It wasn’t monstrous, but the 13-pound Chinook I landed remains one of my larger fish to-date. I’ve only caught White Sturgeon, Bat Rays, Striped Bass, and Common Carp larger at the time of writing in June 2018. It was also my first Salmonid over 30 inches. Note my matching shoes and sweater, too. I’ve always been fly.

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.

This is one of the best fishing pics I’ve ever taken on a boat.

That was more or less it. I’ll keep it simple because I don’t want to cannibalize my own writing.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #51 — Australasian Snapper.


Species #48 — California Halibut

California Halibut are one of a handful of flatfish that can be left-eyed or right-eyed which makes identification a pain in the butt. Photo courtesy mexican-fish.com.

Species: California Halibut (Paralichthys californicus)
Location: Chetco River South Jetty, Brookings-Harbor, OR
Date: July 13, 2013

While fishing with my friend David Clarke, I tried to relive an amazing trip to Brookings I’d had years earlier. Sadly, it wasn’t happening.

The charter boat had provided good fishing, but David was so seasick, he didn’t get to wet a line much. He did manage some respectable rockfish and a nice Lingcod.

I, meanwhile, avoided the seasickness and boated 15 rockfish (Black, Canary, Yellowtail) and two Lingcod.

The meat in the cooler, we opted to try shore fishing the next day, and it was slow. Apart from a few Pacific Staghorn Sculpin, we were more or less getting nothing.

So we improvised, and I goofed off which my relatively new smartphone and its built-in camera.

*ominous music plays in background*

All we caught were tiny flatfish after that, and at the time, I couldn’t identify them. That’s partly because California Halibut, a species I’d hooked before but never landed, can be left- or right-eyed.

To the non-flatfish aficianados out there, flatfish are completely flat and have all coloration and external organs on one side while the other side is plain, semi-translucent white. The white side rests on the bottom while the side with eyes, camouflage, and the mouth goes up. They rest in the sand or mud for some hapless prey species to come by, and it’s all over.

Most species are either right- or left-eyed, but California Halibut can be both. It’s more problematic that they’re usually left-eyed, and we caught five that were right-eyed that day.

Eventually, I got my ID, and Species #48 was in the bag.


Species #67 — Warmouth

It was tiny, but I could tell it wasn’t a Bluegill because I’d caught half a dozen of them before this little Warmouth bit. I grabbed a nearby shopping bag and used it to create the contrast necessary for a later ID.

Species: Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)
Location: Cosca Lake, Washington, D.C.
Date: July 16, 2015

White Catfish checked off, I decided to fish the tiny feeder stream. It was small and crystal-clear which made sneaking up on the spooky sunfish within a challenge.

But I managed.

My go-to Bergie Worm Jr. (now discontinued) tipped with a tiny piece of worm was the ticket, and I landed a number of respectable Bluegill before something smaller darted out from the undercut bank and hit my bait.

I missed the first time, and spent the next few minutes trying to get the little guy to play. This was years before I’d taken up true microfishing, and I desperately wish I’d been up to speed on New Half Moon and other Tanago hooks back them.

Using my fingers, I pinched half of the jig’s rubber body off, leaving maybe a quarter-inch of rubber and the tiny piece of worm on the 1/64th-ounce jighead.

It worked, and I pulled up a tiny, flopping sunfish unlike any I’d ever caught.

Though there are dozens of species in the Centrarchidae family, I quickly narrowed it down to a few: Warmouth, Rock Bass, and Redear Sunfish. I’d never caught any of these three fish, but all three were supposed to exist in the area. The pale complexion made the ID tough at first, but eventually I figured it out.

I’d just caught my first Warmouth.

Strangely enough, it would be the only one I captured that day, despite hauling in more than two dozen sunfish. All the rest were Bluegill with one being an obvious hybrid, but one I couldn’t identify as it was different from the “Hybrid Sunfish” (Bluegill x Green Sunfish) I’d caught so often back home.

Still, it was another new species.

***

I figured the trend would continue, but apart from some Largemouth Bass, this lake had given up everything it had to offer, and I left.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #68 — White Perch.


Species #66 — White Catfish

The slightly-forked tail is what distinguishes White Catfish from the various bullhead species. Even though White Catfish are in the same family as bullheads, they have that one, distinctive feature.

Species: White Catfish (Ameiurus catus)
Location: Cosca Lake, Washington, D.C.
Date: July 16, 2015

For most people, a visit to D.C. means history and tours and American nationalism. It meant all of those things to me, too, but it also meant fishing.

After spending a good chunk of time researching where to fish within a reasonable distance of my Maryland hotel room, I settled on my first stop: Cosca Lake.

The urban lake is not easily accessible. It required a long walk from the parking area, and in late July heat, anything more than five feet might as well be the the Bataan Death March.

I arrived on the lawn surrounding the lake and began to setup shop. I only had one rod, so my first bet was a handline baited with a worm while I tied up my one and only rod for the occasion.

Before I even managed to get the tiny jig on my line, the stick I’d tied the handline to started bouncing, and I pulled in what appeared to be a bullhead.

Technically, it was. Just not a Brown or Yellow Bullhead like I’d seen in my native Oregon.  This was a White Bullhead, more commonly called the White Catfish.

Heck yeah! I hadn’t even cast yet, and I had a new species on the board. Sticky, sweaty weather aside, I could tell this day was shaping up nicely.

That is, until some strange dude in absurdly baggy pants came up and kept talking to me while I tried to fish. It was obnoxious, and he was just wrong on every account. After I landed a few Brown Bullhead, I decided to pick up and move to the tiny feeder creek leading into the lake.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #67 — Warmouth.


Species #65 — Fallfish

I’m kind of surprised this little thing took my spinner, but without a dominant trout population, other species rise to fill certain niches, like this Fallfish.

Species: Fallfish (Semotilus corporalis)
Location: Thornton River, Shenandoah National Park, VA
Date: July 15, 2015

Since the last post stole all of the thunder from this trip (except the actual thunder and lightning that caused me a little concern when I was fishing), I’ll be brief.

I never did get my Brook Trout in its native range. I’ll have to try that again someday. I did realize how terrible the trout fisheries in most of the East have become.

Trout fishing in the East likely sucks because of generous regulations like this that allow anglers to overharvest fish.

***

Then again, having opportunities to catch things other fish is the beauty of #SpeciesQuest, and I can’t complain.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #66 — White Catfish.


Species #64 — Bluehead Chub

It wasn’t the Brook Trout I was hoping for, but this Bluehead Chub was a new species.

Species: Bluehead Chub (Nocomis leptocephalus)
Location: Thornton River, Shenandoah National Park, VA
Date: July 15, 2015

Oh Shenandoah.

The National Park so beautiful it inspired a song was on my to-do list the moment I knew I’d be spending time in Washington D.C.

I spent my first-ever evening on the East Coast hanging out with my cousin, Adrian Mateos, after I arrived.

We did a quick tour, and he told me to do my sightseeing the next day while he was at work but to save some stops for us to visit together the next evening.

Game on.

I visited all sorts of monuments and museums but saved “the big ones” for that evening.

If you missed the date, it was late July. Humidity was thicker than tourists, and I was soaking in a swamp every time I sat down. So I just kept moving. I walked and rode and covered two days worth of sights in about eight hours.

***

After two days and nights of “doing D.C.” like a tourist, I rented a car and decided to head east to Shenandoah National Park.

I stopped along the way for a softshell crab sandwich — damn, those are good — and continued on my way.

The roads became less and less significant, and before I knew it, I was wandering the wilds of rural Virginia.

Shenandoah National Park is huge. Covering more than 311 square miles and stretching north to south from the northern border of Virginia to the fat middle of the state, it’s not a quick tour like some other national parks.

I entered at the North Entrance near the town of Front Royal and was immediately awestruck by the beauty of it all.

Little did I know, I was about to be all up in my feels from the beauty of this place. The first thing I noticed was the lush greenery and the butterflies and hummingbird moths flitting around it, sipping nectar and adding to an already awesome sight.

I’d never seen a Hummingbird Moth before, and I was taken by the sight.

 

Swallowtail Butterflies are among the most common.

Now, I’d told myself this trip was more about sightseeing than fishing, but I still wanted to fish. So my first stop was the ranger station.

***

The ranger told me about the decent fishing to be had there, including lots of native Brook Trout (my target species) and the occasional “massive Brown Trout that you wouldn’t believe.”

Further exploration revealed the latter to be fish as “massive” as 16 inches long. I suppressed a laugh.

The streams on the mountainside proved shallow and nearly impossible to fish. I noticed no poison oak, ivy, or sumac, but I failed to realize the thick vegetation brushing against my bare legs contained some lesser toxin that made me itch like crazy until I washed myself thoroughly in another stream.

***

The drive wound on, and I began to worry I might not be able to find fishable water. Then, I noticed the middle exit road just halfway through the park. The topography of the map seemed to indicate a drop in elevation, and I noted the single stream that looked large enough to fish: Thornton River.

I made my careful way, enjoying the scenery.

So awesome. Even though Shenandoah isn’t that high in elevation, the surrounding area was so low that a unique microclimate existed up on top of the ridge.

I even stopped when I found my favorite flower (yes, I have a favorite flower) the Tiger Lily. They were scattered around on the roadside, and I had to take a moment to appreciate them.

Tiger Lilies? *sighs wistfully*

***

Eventually, I realized time was running short. I still had to make it back to D.C., through D.C. traffic during rush hour, and back to the hotel in Maryland to meet up with Adrian.

It was Thornton River or bust.

My first few casts with a tiny spinner proved useless, but once I stumbled upon a gorgeous pool with a massive rock hiding me from view, I began catching small fish I couldn’t identify. No Brookies, but I knew it was a new species.

I like chubs. They’re unique fish, and they fill in for overfished trout populations and keep you from getting skunked.

***

Though it took me ages, eventually I learned I’d caught a Bluehead Chub from Steve Reeser, the District Fisheries Biologist of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

He also helped me identify the next fish I caught, but you’ll have to read the next post for that information.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #65 — Fallfish.


Species #63 — Fathead Minnow

Male, spawning Fathead Minnows develop big fat, black heads.

Species: Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas)
Location: Klamath Lake, Klamath Falls, OR
Date: January 15, 2015

I’m writing this post just hours after guiding The Species King, Steve Wozniak, to his first Fathead Minnow, so it’s particularly apropos that my own written species progression puts me here at this time. Read about that trip here.

I caught my first Fathead by hand when the weather-warn minnow, both dazed and confused, came just a little to close to my reach. Minutes later, I snagged another while throwing my Rapala X-Rap 10 through a small school of them in hopes of catching a trout.

I found a place where you can catch Fatheads all day long. If I had a bass pond, you can bet they’d be the prey base…

Since the telltale black streak along the lateral line made me realize it wasn’t the usual suspects (chubs and dace), I knew I had a new species. Granted, this was still well before  I was tracking a species total, but I still added a row to my Lifetime Bag spreadsheet, and typed “2” in the box next to its newly-typed name.

It’s funny because though both methods I used to land my minnow were legal, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I got one to willingly bite a micro-rig — just weeks before Steve’s arrival.

***

Steve came to fish, but Fatheads wouldn’t cooperate. We got other targets, focusing on chubs and sculpins and even trout, but no Fatheads.

After spot-hopping and catching enough chubs to , I took them to the place I’d caught my first and second Fathead Minnows. This, our final stop, had an expiration date because both Steve and his fishing buddy Mark Spellman had to be back home that afternoon.

Time rolled up behind us like a carpet after the big show. We had an hour left, and we could feel the cold stare of the audience waiting for us to finish.

Seconds after we stopped, I noticed a school of what were clearly Fatheads feeding by the shore, and Steve went to work.

He said Mark and I could move ahead and trout fish, but I opted to drink from the fountain of his wisdom (though I used no metaphors that over-the-top) and stayed for a few minutes, talking with Steve.

It didn’t take 10 minutes for his quarry to oblige.

Steve micro-fished for a Fathead Minnow with the focused intensity of any trout or bass fisherman.

He pulled up a mouth-hooked Fathead. It wasn’t in spawning colors, but it was a male. This was significant because males and their oversized skull give the species its name.

Fun fact, right? Shut up. Just keep reading.

Though the trout didn’t cooperate for our last few minutes, that species was an ego-booster.

It was the end of a solid weekend of fishing and fueled the fire for my own species hunting once again. I’m sure Steve will tell this story from his perspective, too, and you can find it here.

Despite fishing with Steve and getting my 15 minutes, the only fat heads that day were of the tiny little invasive minnows that rolled up our trip so nicely.


Species #62 — White Sturgeon

If you’ve never fished for sturgeon, you’re truly missing out on one of the world’s greatest fisheries.

Species: White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)
Location: Columbia River, Cascade Locks, OR
Date: February 22, 2015

If Hell froze over, it would still be warmer than the Columbia River is mid-winter during high winds. The type of bone-chilling cold that the Gorge can experience is excruciating for those dressed in anything less warm than a recently disemboweled TaunTaun.

Unfortunately, this Luke had forgotten his lightsaber and was left shivering in the frigid canyonland, praying desperately for a hit.

I was there targeting sturgeon, something I’d always wanted to do in the Gorge, and hoped to bring home a fish in the narrow January – March keeper season on that stretch of the river.

At the time, it was a slot limit fishery that rarely exceeded quotas before the season expired, and the slot was 40-50″ fork length, so you could theoretically walk away with a decent fish.

That is, if your frozen corpse didn’t topple overboard when winds changed from 30 to 40 miles per hour and the whitecaps started clipping your boat with extra fervor.

***

I was fishing with Northwest Sturgeon Adventures, and they were a solid outfit. They seemed to know what they were doing, and in lieu of the miserable cold, the boat had a zippered cover with a space heater inside. It wasn’t enough, but it was a nice touch that kept me from shivering away all of the calories I’d eaten that week.

The wind made bite monitoring very difficult, so the guy who drew the straw for the first bite failed a dozen or so times before finally giving up, retreating back to the warmth of the pseudo-tent and the welcomed heat of burning propane.

I was fourth in line out of four, but second and third were so cold, they deferred to me.

Living up to my namesake, I rebelled against my better judgement and accepted their invitation.

I was the only one brave (or dumb) enough to stand in the cold and wait for a bite.

It paid off.

At least, it would have if I had been able the difference between a subtle bite and wave action with hands numb to virtually all sensation.

I closed my eyes, braced my stomach against the rod holder and tried to “feel” the Force of the bite.

***

Following the instruction of the guides, I let three bites go undetected and didn’t even grab the rod out of the holder. On the fourth, I grabbed the rod, set the hook, and just missed.

Moments later, it was back, and this hookset connected.

The gear was very heavy, and the fish wasn’t huge, but I was ecstatic when the armor-plated monster broke the surface tension with its shark-like tail.

It was at least three feet long, and I was excited to see if it would a keeper or not.

We put the fish in a large net and took a tare weight so as not to stress the fish. The scale registered it around 15 pounds, and it taped to 40 inches.

I was stoked! It was a keeper!

Then the “fork length” nonsense came to mind, and I realized it was a few inches shy at the fork of the 40-inch slot length minimum.

Refusing to give in to the Dark Side, I prepared to let it go.

Dejected, I vowed to at least grab a picture. Expecting that it would be worth holding like a trout or the larger, more weathered sturgeon I’d caught at Willamette Falls, I grabbed it at the base of the tail and supported its weight with my other hand.

***

My hands were numb, so I didn’t realize the young dinosaur’s plates were slicing open my hand as I held it. After the photos and release, I realized my hand was soaked with blood.

In seconds, I’d learned to never hold young sturgeon that way again because their plates, called scutes, start out very sharp and only dull over time.

The picture turned out all right, but my hand did not.

***

Since I wasn’t able to try a sturgeon I’d captured myself, I opted to go to a seafood restaurant in Portland that served sturgeon. The one I found, Jake’s Seafood, was okay. It wasn’t phenomenal, and I felt it was certainly overrated, but the sturgeon was pretty good even if the rest of the experience wasn’t top-notch. It reminded me of a drier, stringier halibut but was still delicious.

I’ve yet to catch a keeper since fishing a primarily catch-and-release fishery in the Willamette and mid-Columbia that is productive because of the “let ’em go to let ’em grow” policy enforced there.

Sturgeon have become one of my favorite targets, and nothing fights like a massive sturgeon — at least not in this galaxy.


Species #61 — Widow Rockfish

It was tiny, but I caught my first Widow Rockfish while third-wheeling on my best friend’s honeymoon. Read the story; it’s not as weird as it sounds.

Species: Widow Rockfish (Sebastes entomelas)
Location: Off the coast of Depoe Bay, OR
Date: December 18, 2014

I wrote about this in my January 30, 2015 column in the Herald and News. Read it below:

In 1988, the United States government outlawed the production and sale of three-wheeled ATVs, commonly known as “three-wheelers,” because the third wheel made the vehicles incredibly awkward and unsafe.

Two years later, I was born.

I grew up blissfully unaware of the ban on three-wheeled vehicles, routinely spending time with my coupled friends and making an awkward triad.

Triad was also the name of my high school, but that’s just a coincidence.

I think.

As I got older, I became aware of when it was okay to third-wheel with my friends, and when it was not. First dates? No.

You’ve been dating for months and you’re now sitting at a basketball game? Yes.

Oh. You’re going to propose at this basketball game? That’s awesome!

Don’t worry, I didn’t blow the surprise.

Retroactive congratulations, Shawn and Maddie Elliott!

Understandably, most of my friends desired alone time with their significant other, so I tried to give them space.

We all grew older, and before I knew it, it was 2014.

My best friend, Benjamin Blanchard, was engaged and planning his wedding. The timing of the wedding meant our annual fall fishing trip to the Oregon Coast — that had been our tradition since graduating high school six years earlier — was off the table.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed.

Still, I was happy for my friend, and I absolutely understood.

Then, he surprised me by saying that he and his then fiancé (now wife), Autumn, wanted us to take our fishing trip, with her, during one of the days of their nearly month-long honeymoon.

Not one to turn down a fishing trip, I immediately agreed.

December rolled around, and we made plans to meet up in Lincoln City where they were staying. I started my weekend with a few days in Portland before heading to the coast.

Ben, Autumn and I met briefly the night before to catch up in their beachside vacation rental, where they were spending their honeymoon, before I retired to their floor.

Kidding.

I retired to the offsite motel room they’d generously rented for me.

The next day started off brisk and cold as we drove to nearby Depoe Bay, the world’s smallest navigable harbor.

We climbed onto the charter boat and got to know some of our fellow passengers.

Once it was discovered that Ben and Autumn were honeymooners, everyone congratulated them.

Once it was discovered that I was third-wheeling their honeymoon, we had a few laughs, one weird look from an older gentleman who thought we might’ve been a trio of lovers, but finally a comment from the captain, who said “Wow. That’s an honor.”

Indeed it was.

While many would feel like a third wheel, I never did with these two.

As we reeled in fish after fish, Autumn battled seasickness with a remarkably positive attitude.

Considering the fact that we were adrift in the middle of the ocean during mid-December, it was remarkably warm. My phone listed the weather in the 50s by mid-morning.

The fishing was pretty good, too, even though both Ben and Autumn out-fished me.

In total, we landed more than 40 fish, representing a variety of species. Black Rockfish, Blue Rockfish and Yellowtail Rockfish made up the majority of our catch, but we also landed several vividly orange, threatened Canary Rockfish, several Lingcod, and I even caught a species I’d never caught before: a Widow Rockfish.

They survived the first stormy seas their marriage would see (literally), and we had a great time together.

They never called me a third wheel, and though some of you might, I’ll counter with this: apart from the steering column, boats don’t have wheels.

See the original H&N piece here.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #62 — White Sturgeon.


Species #60 — Kahawai

Kahawai are the hardest-fighting fish pound-for-pound I’ve ever caught.

Species: Kahawai (Arripis trutta)
Location: Kuaotunu River, Kuaotunu, Coromandel, New Zealand
Date: February 25, 2014

After going it alone for weeks, my friend David Clarke and I decided to get a charter. We’d planned to chase tuna and kingfish and marlin off the coast with one of this friends, but when that fell through, we scrambled for a backup plan.

With no cell service (I should’ve paid for it, but I was naive and cheap) and WiFi only available at a per-MB fee in hotels and hostels, I didn’t research it as much as I should have. Now I know that you should buy a SIM Card, but then? Nope.

So what we ended up doing was a ‘Land-Based Charter’ with a gentleman who owned a bait shop in a town near where we were staying in the Coromandel region.

He promised us big snapper, kahawai, and chances at other fish as well.

I paid the bill as a thank-you. I mean, he let me stay with him for weeks and saved me thousands of dollars on hotels, so it was the least I could do.

***

It started out pretty well. We met up at sunset and hiked a windswept batch of grassy foothills to a rock landing. The guide tossed out a bag of burley (that’s Kiwi for chum), and we started fishing.

Biodiversity around New Zealand is low, and this day was no different. We caught almost exclusively Australasian Snapper from about half a pound to the three-pound beast David landed. All great-eating fish, but nothing like the Kingfish (very closely related to the Yellowtail found in California) we were hoping for.

Australasian Snapper represented the bulk of our catch that day. They weren’t very big, but they grilled up deliciously in avacado oil, lemon, and fresh ground black pepper in a foil sleeve put on the BBQ.

***

The day wore on in the beautiful setting, and though fishing wasn’t great, it was entertaining.

The guide’s burley bag got snagged against the cliff face,  and for some reason, he decided to dive down and unsnag it. I think it was for show, but it was still pretty badass. He dove down and freed the bag while avoiding any sharks, so I’d count that as a win.

***

In the last few hours of fishing, a school of tuna-like fish starting aggressively feeding. The guide, who was fishing with us and not handing off fish as guides normally do, hooked up first.

This ferocious beast ripped line off of his reel and fought impossibly hard for its apparent size. After a few minutes, he landed it on the rocks. It was roughly the same shape as a trout and probably only 24-25 inches long, but it fought like a 20-pound salmon. I couldn’t believe it.

His fish had hit on the drop, but he didn’t tell us that. He just kept fishing. After he caught #2, I cut off my weight and hooked a pilchard head onto an unweighted hook tied directly to my mainline.

It sunk very slowly and stayed in the eyeline of the prowling fish, and I hooked up almost immediately. This fish fought like crazy. Nothing I’ve caught before or since pulled like that Kahawai, pound-for-pound. I was using a heavy spinning rod with 25-pound mono, and this five-pound fish stretched it to the absolute limit.

See? They weren’t monstrous, but they fought like they were. Also, look at that outfit. Man.

I landed several more beasts that day, each one taking an unweighted pilchard head in the churning surf and putting up a fight for the ages. None of them topped seven pounds, but I was physically sore after fighting the last one.

***

We hiked out at day’s end and were shocked to learn the guide had kept most of the fish for himself. Despite catching maybe 50 pounds of fish and then packing it out on our backs for miles, we took home maybe five pounds.

I didn’t tip, and I left a review detailing all of his antics. He was a nice enough guy, but he’d basically charged us $450 NZD to go out and fish with him. He didn’t really guide us, and apart from cleaning the fish (of which he kept 90%), he didn’t do much else.

It wasn’t the worst guided trip I went on, but it was up there. To make matters worse, the guide sent me an angry response on Facebook after I reviewed his service with an (in my opinion) a very generous 3-out-of-5 stars.

I guess it proves there are jerks everywhere.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #61 — Widow Rockfish.


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