Species: Northern Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis) Location: Umatilla River, Pendleton, OR Date: July 21, 2008
We’ve established I hate baseball.
I respect it and those who play it, but it bores me to tears. So, when my brother Gabe’s team made it to the Little League state championship tournament for a chance at the Little League World Series, I was excited for him. Until I wasn’t.
Then I moved on to other things.
I’d just been given a cell phone as a graduation present. It flipped open and closed which seemed kind of cool, but it looked ridiculous, and it was one more thing I had to carry in my pocket.
I knew these were popular already, but they seemed a little unnecessary for everyday use. Still, I took a few really grainy photos of the fish I caught shortly after ditching the game to fish the river behind the stadium.
At the time, I had no clue what the fish were, but those photos later helped me identify them as Northern Pikeminnow.
These underrated “trash fish” aren’t the most popular sport fish, but they fight well, hit the same things trout do, and can actually grow quite large. The specimens I caught that day were all 7-to-9 inches, though.
Oh well. A new species is always better than baseball.
Species: Tui Chub (Gila bicolor) Location: Lost River Date: April 13, 2008
Before I learned where to chase big trout in the spring, I used to drive out to Crystal Springs County Park during Spring Break or any time I had free from sports. Lonely Luke would fish for anything that would strike his lonely worm.
I’d camp on the bridge or off a point upstream of the bridge for a few hours and soak worms, rain or shine.
Dad had told me stories of how he used to fill his bike basket with plate-sized crappie there as a kid, and I went out with high hopes every trip. Sadly, they’d be crushed time after time.
My catch rate was miserable. I caught next-to-nothing, and I sure as Hell didn’t catch any crappie.
But one fine day, I caught a slimy, silver, trout-looking thing without teeth. It fought well, and it took me a moment to realize it was a chub.
I’d caught them before, but in the four years’ time since I’d decided to keep track of my fishing endeavors, and clearly it had been at least four years since I caught one.
While it technically wasn’t Species #17, for the sake of my list, it is.
And that, kids, is how to end a relatively uneventful story on a resounding low note.