Species: Blue Cod (Parapercis colias) Location: Kuaotunu Coastline, Coromandel, New Zealand Date: February 24, 2014
Sometimes you luck into a wide variety of species early and catch lucky breaks with every cast. This is not one such tale.
David Clarke and I had been plying the coastal waters of New Zealand for weeks before the species variety started up in force. After catching almost nothing but Australasian Snapper in the salt, I finally got lucky when we drifted away from the structure I was so used to fishing in Oregon waters and drifted over a sloping, sandy bottom.
Shrimp was expensive — even cocktail shrimp — so we’d taken to trying other baits. Cicadas we caught on a small island quickly became a favorite.
Though finding live ones was difficult, the kicking insects attracted fish within 30 seconds of every drop. It worked like a charm.
Dead ones produced, albeit more slowly, so as I impaled the final, writhing bug on my hook, I sent a silent prayer.
God was listening.
I felt a tap, then fought up a light weight. I was shocked to realize it was an entirely different fish: Blue Cod.
We’d heard great things about the second-place Kiwi marine fish, but it was too small too keep, so I snapped a quick pic and sent it back to the depths.
Species: Canary Rockfish (Sebastes pinnager) Location: Off the coast of Brookings-Harbor, OR Date: September 15, 2010
Many people experiment with drugs in college. Don’t spit out your coffee, but I was one of them.
I experimented with Dramamine in the fall of 2010, and it wasn’t bad.
If you were looking for more dirt, that’s the end of the story. Sorry to disappoint. I still haven’t drank alcohol, used to tobacco or experimented with any actual drugs, but the first time I tried Dramamine was the best, and the handful of times I’ve tried it since never lived up.
That’s normal with drugs, right? You spend your whole time chasing that first high. Well seasickness be damned. I tried Dramamine and while I was very tired, I didn’t feel seasick at all.
Christopher Puckett, Ben Blanchard and I all climbed onto the boat knowing we’d had past problems with green gills but confident in our Dramamine-induced haze.
I was the very last person on the boat to catch a fish, but when I did finally get one, it was a brilliant orange fish that I’d never caught before, but, having studied the rockfish ID charts religiously, I immediately recognized it as a Canary Rockfish.
It was a whopping 17 inches and 2.7 pounds, but at the time, harvest was closed, so I sent it back to nature.
Now, I’m not condoning drug use, but my first time using Dramamine definitely left me with a lasting high and a good story.
Species: Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus) Location: Chetco River South Jetty, Brookings-Harbor Marina, OR Date: September 10, 2009
Rashomon Effect 5-of-6: My Feet
Danner Vanish. I still remember them because they were both the most expensive non-wading boots I’ve ever purchased and some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn fishing.
They certainly weren’t stylish, but they felt great. After spending all day on my feet, landing fish after fish and adding nearly half a dozen new species to my Life List, puking my guts out, and then walking all over the marina chasing bait, I should’ve had aching feet. But I didn’t.
I felt great.
So when Ben and I loaded up a bag of bait, we decided to take to Round 3 of our glorious day of fishing.
We headed to the jetty.
The sand squished under my feet as I made my way from the car to the massive boulders that comprised the jetty.
I didn’t like it.
Once my boots found purchase on the rock, I nearly lost my footing as one of the many “Jetty Cats” that we loved to joke about darted into the shadows.
Hopping from boulder to boulder probably didn’t require the level of bravado I put into each leap, but I trusted them, and it gave me a bit of rush knowing that one slip could spell disaster. The thrill was titillating.
Making our way to the water wasn’t easy, what with the slick rocks, creeping tide, and fog creeping in slowly, obscuring our view. Still, we managed to get down to the the large flat rock at the end of the structure and catch a few fish.
Ben got the first few fish and then I hooked one. It was a Kelp Greenling. My fifth new species of the day brought to me by the great folks at Danner. The problems of that day aside, those Danner hiking boots are still my favorite boots ever.
Species: Brown Rockfish (Sebastes auriculatus) Location: Brookings-Harbor Coastline, OR Date: September 10, 2009
Rashomon Effect 2-of-6: My Heart
The dark majesty of the Oregon Coast rests in it’s rugged, untamed power. The shaded mystery of the forest and what lies within speaks to the adventurer in all of us.
The whistling nocturne played by whipping winds over the salt-peppered cliffs always hatches butterflies in my stomach and a longing in my heart.
When I’m at my most taxed and exhausted from the intensity of hiking the steep trails, climbing the jagged rock faces, and fishing the roiling waters, it’s only my passion for the sport that gets me out of bed the next time to start the process over.
That dark morning was no different, especially after a successful night fishing for surfperch that left us wet, cold, tired, and smiling nonetheless.
My body screamed “Go back to sleep!” but the longing for a day on the water got me out of the safety of my sleeping bag.
The instant oatmeal, bland coffee, and physical exhaustion weren’t enough to keep me off the boat, and the resultant seasickness wasn’t enough to keep me from fishing.
Despite the horrible knots my stomach was twisted into, I relished the time between each esophageal release because it meant I could catch a fish or two.
Just as we began to near limits, I fought my queasiness long enough for another drop. When I pulled up two small fish at the same time, I was ecstatic. When they didn’t quite look like any rockfish I’d caught before, I was even more so.
“Hey Kyle,” the deckhand said. “Are these Brownies?”
The captain, Kyle, came up and inspected the catch.
“Yeah, those are Brownies! We don’t see a lot of those,” Captain Kyle said to the deckhand, turning to me and adding: “Man, that’s a rare catch.”
The word “rare” evoked a sense of pride that *almost* overcame my nausea.
Little did I know that they were so rare, that in 20-plus charter trips, numerous shore fishing excursions, and miles of jetty walking over almost a decade, I wouldn’t see another “Brownie” captured. And here I’d been fortunate enough to get two on one drop? Damn.
That is something special.
The rest of the day was even better. We fished anchovies out of the marina for bait, filled a bag and used them to catch more fish and a few crabs on the jetty, and then ended the day with a delightful dinner that really felt like a reward after an already rewarding day.
Species: Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops) Location: Brookings Coastline, OR Date: May 25, 2005
Elementary school was terrible, junior high was better, and high school was all right. As a freshman, I was awkward in the way most freshman are, but I was also extra awkward in my own, special way.
I’m not sure I really knew what I wanted, or what I was interested in outside of hunting, fishing, and trapping. But even those were more intellectual interests than anything else. Sports were okay, and I competed in soccer, cross country, basketball, and track as a freshman, but I hadn’t found my niche.
Then came the Biology Trip.
It was a chance for freshman in Mr. Dean’s biology class to head to the coast for a few days of tide pool examinations, hiking, fishing, and maybe, when left to our own devices, the roasting of a banana slug over the fire and subsequent dares to eat it.
We unpacked the vans, put up the tents, and threw around a football while waiting for instructions. That was fun. I could catch pretty well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t (and still can’t, really) throw very well. So much for impressing anyone and solidifying my position as a cool jock.
I was saved from my miserable throws by an announcement. We were told anyone interested in fishing should hop in the van.
It sounded like a nice break, so I hopped in.
The 14- or 15-foot Bayliner was not big. In fact, it was hardly a seagoing vessel in the conventional sense. Even still, I climbed in. The harbor was calm and sheltered, and my dad had told me how “Brookings has the safest bar in Oregon,” so I didn’t think much of it.
The ocean was relatively calm, but being on it for the first time — in a small boat, no less — quickly made me queasy. I wasn’t the only one, either.
Everyone on our boat was some level of seasick, but I wasn’t the worst-off, so I was able to fish. My four-inch Wild Eye Swim Shad, the swimbait I know use more than almost any other lure, quickly snagged the bottom, and it wouldn’t be the only time that afternoon. Fortunately, I eventually got it to work long enough to catch a black fish that looked remarkably similar to a Largemouth Bass — except an evil-looking version of it: black and sinister with large spines.
Three more eventually followed suit before another angler on the boat landed the fish of a lifetime, and I later put my head entirely inside of its mouth (read about that here).
Something in me changed that day, I got a stronger sense of identity: I was a fisherman now.