Species: Red Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus)
Location: Off the coast of Brookings-Harbor, OR
Date: September 14, 2011
I began this blog with the first story I ever recorded. That story took place in 2004, and I wrote about it afterwards in a spiral-bound notebook by hand.
My last story from those hand-written journals takes place seven years later, in 2011, and though it wasn’t my last entry, it was the last new species recorded longhand, so this is a little bittersweet.
For awhile, every saltwater fishing trip I took resulted in a new species. Those were the days. Everything was new and exciting.
2011 was still firmly in the middle of this time frame, and after landing a few new species from shore, I was stoked when my rod dipped on our charter boat, and a big, ugly creature I’d never seen in person came up writhing on the end of my hook.
I looked again. Yes, it was ugly, but it was also somehow unbelievably beautiful. It’s red-and-umber tones swept flowing, semi-rigid fins, a brilliantly-hued face, and resulted in a species I’d read about and seen pictures of but never actually seen IRL (that’s In Real Life, ya’ll).
Reareange IRL, and you get RIL, or, Red Irish Lord. #Anagrams
Probably some of the most beautiful members of the Cottidae family, Brown, Red, and Yellow Irish Lords are relatively rare in Oregon, but they often travel in groups.
The first one I caught was eating size, and like every sizable saltwater sculpin, it was a guaranteed keeper if legal.
My pleading eyes apparently spoke volumes, and the apparently nonverbal communication master of a deckhand said “That’s definitely a keeper, bro.”
The first RIL took a leadhead jig at the bottom of the “boat rig,” but on the very next drop, I got a very small fish to eat my curlytail grub. It, too, was a RIL IRL.
The handful of Irish Lords I’ve caught since (Red and Brown) have never been one-offs. Every time, my party and I have always combined for two.
That could be coincidence, but it’s a four-time coincidence now like the Patriots cheating but somehow getting away relatively unscathed.
I happened to be fishing with Ben Blanchard at the time, and though he caught no Irish Lords, he did catch more fish than anyone else on the boat, his 25 beating out my 17 for first place.
Though I switched from pen to programs in my journaling shortly thereafter, I continued keeping records — records that enable me to keep bloggging about my #SpeciesQuest and sharing that quest with anyone who won’t throw me off a cliff if I can’t calculate wingspeed velocities and such.
Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #39 — Deacon Rockfish.