Species #126 — Redside Shiner

You ever spend a ton of time trying to add a fish to your Lifelist, only to later find out a closer, more abundant population existed later? Because same.

Species: Redside Shiner (Richardsonius balteatus)
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
Date: June 16, 2018

After school got out, I loaded my car and drove up to visit my brother, Gabe.

I knew it would be the last summer he lived in Corvallis with his roommates, the guys who had been surrogate brothers to me in the dozens of times I’d visited them over the years. Sure, I wanted to spend time with my brother, but I also liked the change of pace.

Jake called it “Hotel Gabe,” and I guess that was partly true. I did always take time to fish when visiting. In fact, I fished a lot out of that Corvallis apartment in five years’ time.

I changed careers, finished a Master’s degree, became a species hunter, and even started writing about fishing while they lived there. It held more memories than any other place I’d never actually lived in.

Like always, I wanted to fish.

So as I went out to the Willamette River to try for a species that was put on my radar since I started microfishing six months earlier from that very spot, I got emotional.

I caught my Redside Shiner, though I had to work for it. Species #126.

But I was still sad. This wasn’t like all of the other times I’d fished there.

This time was different.

We were celebrating Gabe’s graduation, and his then-girlfriend (now fiance), Rylee Salutregui and her family were there for the festivities, as she was graduating, too.

After catching a Redside Shiner just a few minutes from Gabe’s house, I surveyed the place I’d come to love as a second home and said my goodbyes to the place.

The people would be a little tougher.

***

The next day, we went fishing as a group. There were no new species, but it was worth sharing nonetheless.

Of those original four roommates that Gabe had lived with for so long, all of whom played Oregon State Football, only Adam Soesman and Drew Kell are still in Corvallis.

Marcus McMaryion transferred to Fresno State and got snubbed for an NFL Combine Invite, but he’ll probably at least make an NFL roster next year.

Trent Moore, one of his roommates and best friends, now lives with Gabe in Beaverton.

Gabe will be moving out to get a place with Rylee when they get married this fall, and life moves on.

Their core friend group has gone different directions, and I miss those guys. I never had college roommates (I lived with my parents), and these guys were the closest I ever came. I’d visit about once per month for almost five years. It was a way of life for me, and change is tough — even for the brother who only visits on occasion.

Read about saying goodbyes even as we said new hellos by clicking here.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #127 — Rosylip Sculpin.

Species #84 — American Shad

American Shad were introduced to the West Coast in the 1800s and have flourished ever since.

Species: American Shad (Alosa sapidissima)
Location: Willamette River, Oregon City, OR
Date: June 11, 2017

Oregon is weird. We have a culture built around gamefish, but not all of our gamefish are native.

Rainbow Trout are the most popular species in the state, but most fish caught annually by Oregon anglers aren’t native fish; they’re mostly hatchery trout.

Though Rainbows, Cutthroats, and Bulls are Oregon’s only native trout, we have a slew of other introduced/invasive (depending on who you ask) trout that are afforded gamefish status.

Likewise, all five Pacific salmon species and Steelhead (genetically still a Rainbow Trout) are all native fish treated like kings.

Sturgeon gets the same treatment.

Bass aren’t native, and they’re certainly invasive and problematic in riverine environments and arguably so in some lakes. But bass don’t get all of the gamefish protections. You can fish for them at night. There is no dedicated bass season. At time of writing, no Oregon waters have purist trophy bass catch and release stipulations.

“They’re invasive, though” critics would argue.

My counterargument? So are shad.

***

Named for an 18th century frat boy, shad are anadromous, silver torpedoes that look — for all intents and purposes — like gamefish.

I was kidding about the frat boy. It’s the other way around.

The American Shad is an intriguing species. So intriguing, in fact, that I actually read an entire novel about these fish. I’ve never done that for any other fish species (no novels, that is).

When I read a book called The Founding Fish, I found it slow in places, but I was taken, and it was a worthwhile read.

I finished the book before I’d even caught a shad of my own.

***

I wrote in detail about these fish already. I framed one story through my own lens, through my first experience with these freshwater herring.

Read that here.

If my fishing stories bore you to tears, I would ask why you’re reading, but I guess I am somewhat handsome, so you could just be admiring me from afar, but am I that good-looking?

I don’t know. I haven’t broken any mirrors lately, but they rarely thank me after using them, either.

I digress.

There is a third option, though. Maybe you prefer the fact that I try to intersperse knowledge and science and history into my writing along with the fishing trips and self-deprecating humor. If that’s the case, click here for my history of American Shad in the PNW (that’s hipster for Pacific Northwest, if you’re not from here).

Shad are one of the most underrated fisheries in Oregon. They fight way better than a comparably-sized salmon or steelhead, and just because they aren’t the best-tasting fish, they get relegated to “crab bait” by most anglers.

***

Apart from there being no limit on the fish, American Shad are otherwise managed as a gamefish because they fight like one, challenge you like one, and there’s a dedicated following for Oregon shad.

I know I am among them now.

#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #85 — Shiner Perch.