Species #88 — Walleye

Species: Walleye (Sander vitreus)
Location: American Fork Marina, Utah Lake, Provo, UT
Date: June 22, 2017

When doing my research about Utah Lake, I’d read that it contained Walleye, but I’d always heard that the coolwater species like to stay deep and rarely fed during daylight — especially in the dog days of summer.

So when my worm was taken, I assumed it was a small White Bass.

Nothing could’ve pleased me more than the long, perch-like fish on the end of my line. My Walleye was neither big nor pretty as this fish can be, and stretched the tape to just 16 inches.

I knew they had teeth, so I was careful as I handled the fish, but I quickly realized a fish this size was harmless, so I was able to lip it for a quick photo before letting it swim free.

It wasn’t big, but it was a new species. Just don’t tell my friends in the Great White North that this is my one and only Walleye at the time of writing.

Some of my blog posts are like Oompa Loompas: short and lame. This is one of them. I just hope that “you will live in happiness too. Like the Oompa Loompa, doompety do.”

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #89 — Spotted Gar.

Species #87 — Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish are something special to a person who has grown up without them nearby, but like Bullheads, they are an invasive menace most places they’ve been established.

Species: Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
Location: American Fork Marina, Utah Lake, Provo, UT
Date: June 22, 2017

I don’t think my attitude towards a species has changed so quickly.

When I threw my worm up against the far rocky shoreline of the American Fork Marina, it was hammered so hard, the rod almost went into the water. I was stoked, thinking I’d hooked into some massive beast of a fish, but as I got the fish close enough to see it in the milky water, I was surprised to see it wasn’t a massive White Bass or a massive June Sucker, but rather a respectable catfish.

I knew Channel Catfish were present in Utah Lake, but I didn’t really expect to catch one in broad daylight. Yet here I was.

I was impressed with the fight and tenacity of the two-foot fish, and when I landed it, I was further impressed with the pugnacious attitude it carried with it.

Lipping a catfish really isn’t that bad. The spines are terribly painful (I’ve learned this at least half a dozen times), so lipping them or tail gripping is your best bet.

Then I caught another, and the magic was lost a little.

I hate to even say it, but every time I hooked one on my light tackle, it would drag me into the rocks and make me change the horribly abraded line — a pain with only a few hours to fish.

When I saw some folks fishing lures from a boat for these massive beasts, I was wistful about a truly massive Channel Catfish, but it never came. My two five-pounders would have to suffice.

Channel Catfish get bigger than this, but the two five-pound-class Channel Cats I caught that first day in Utah remain some of the biggest I’ve caught to date.***

Since then, fishing the South has made me hate these fish. Invasive in much of their current range, they displace suckers and redhorse and other native bottom feeders. They often get stunted like Bullheads and Yellow Perch, and they really have no value as a species.

Further, their spines are especially painful, and every time I throw one on the bank where invasive (as I do with Yellow Perch and Bullheads back in Oregon), I get stabbed by their damn spines, as they inflict one final blow on society.

Sadly, they’re here to stay. So where invasive, kill every one you catch — whether or not it’s big enough to eat.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #88 — Walleye.

Species #86 — White Bass

White Bass are closely related to Striped Bass, and much like Stripers, they’ll eat anything they can fit in their mouths.

Species: White Bass (Morone chrysops)
Location: American Fork Marina, Utah Lake, Provo, UT
Date: June 22, 2017

As I drove across the West on my way to Commissioned Officer Training (COT) in Montgomery, Alabama, I carefully planned my route to include stops at places I wanted to see. From Klamath Falls, my first long day of driving ended at Salt Lake City, and I stopped in at Utah Lake in nearby Provo for an evening of fishing.

Utah Lake is home to several species of Utah natives, including the endangered June Sucker, and though I hoped I might luck into one of these embattled fish, I realistically hoped to catch both a White Bass and a Channel Catfish — two invasive species that I’d never hooked into before given that the former doesn’t exist at all in Oregon, and the latter is very rare.

I found myself at the mouth of the American Fork where I hoped the flowing water would congregate fish looking for respite from the summer heat.

All I had for bait were worms, and I set up my first rod with a crappie rig that included two small baited hooks on dropper loops.

Before I could even tie a lure onto my second rod, the first dipped, and I was holding my first White Bass.

The spunky little dude was what I had hoped for, and it came so easily that I expected something bad to happen that night.

I landed several more White Bass that night, but the two other species I landed were what made the stop so worthwhile.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #87 — Channel Catfish.