gamakatsu

Taking a Break

I took another exam on 5/26 so I got to enjoy a nice weekend with a few extra days off and NO STUDYING! Sara Ichtertz and I have been trying to coordinate and plan a trip together for a few months and we finally were able to make it happen last weekend after the Bonneville Damn fish counts improved again. And a bonus, we got to see Kari on the water!!! <3

I don’t generally take more than 1 day off after an exam because I have so many more to move on to, but given the circumstances, I took 4 days off and enjoyed every single minute. We headed down to meet up with Sara Friday night and were on the water bright and early Saturday. Fishing was pretty slow (okay, really slow) and we went 1/2 but I still had an amazing day. It was really hot, Andrew grilled us his infamous Teryaki Chicken, and I spent the day getting to learn about an amazing woman who’s passion flows on paper fluently. She writes for NW Sportsman Magazine and has a blog, For the Love of the Tug”.

Drano Lake is my favorite place to fish partly because of the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, partly because I love springers, and partly because it’s one of the most difficult, temperamental fisheries I’ve experienced. A challenge is always good and is what I love about fishing. We’ve been going down there for years experiencing some amazing fishing, and some really bad fishing. It’s not a place that you just decide to head to and expect to do well. In fact, chances are, you’ll just watch the handful of boats that have experienced the challenges do really well and you’ll just pray all day that God sends you a sign as to what you’re doing wrong.

But………Once you figure out what you were doing wrong and learn how important it is to be prepared and ready to get innovative, it’s one of the most rewarding fisheries. Sara got to experience a little bit of both. With a really tough first day, she watched as we tried different methods, depths, scents, ways to rig, speed, & how our minds began to calculate. The next day, she watched as we entered the Toilet Bowl and got 3 in 4 passes, and a couple of times, couldn’t even get all of our rods fishing again before we’d get a bite. She watched again as things slowed down, we thought we were dying of heat, and stuck it out all day long!

We headed back out for one more day which we intended on leaving by 11 AM and we were blessed to get 2/3 that morning before we packed up for our last Drano trip of 2017 and headed home.

 

Sara somehow captured these emotions and moments on camera exactly how I see them in my head. I am beyond blessed to have been able to meet her and have the stars align on this trip. I really never can capture exactly what Drano feels like and all of my favorite moments where I just want to sit in silence and embrace my life in that moment, but she provided me with a way to relive that feeling and that is key to the success in my happiness. Working full time and studying for these exams is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and I’ve sacrificed a lot of fishing trips to sit in my office and study so it’s vital that I reflect on my happiest times.

 

I cannot thank her enough for coming all the way up from southern Oregon and leaving her life for 3 days to sit in a boat with 3 complete strangers. She is ambitious, driven, and I’ve definitely stored those qualities from her to apply in my life. She’s extremely talented and is doing wonderful things to our fishing industry and I’m fortunate to have gotten a chance to bond with such a radiating person.

There truly are too many feelings for me to put into this blog post and I’m back on my studying schedule, so I hope you find as much beauty in some of her pictures as I do <3

Jeff’s Birthday Trip

Every year we make the 3 hour drive down to Drano Lake for Jeff’s birthday with his parents, best friend Herb, and his uncle Wes makes it down for at least 1 day. We’ve been doing this for several years and every year we get better and better. I’d be lying if I told everyone that Drano is like shooting fish in a barrel. Sure, if you have your stuff dialed in and it’s your lucky day, it can be. But that doesn’t come to just anyone and it requires a lot of work and if there’s ever a place where the tiny little details come into play, it’s Drano Lake.

Aside from the memories we create with Jeff’s family and all the friends we’ve made down there, Drano is my favorite fishery because of the people. There are so many friends that we’ve made and without the little tips that the locals and guides have thrown our way over the years, we wouldn’t have the opportunity at fish like we do.

Every year we go down there, something has changed. The fish want herring, then they want prawns spinning, then they want super baits but only under a rotator flasher, then they want coon shrimp, then they want a Leo flasher, it’s never fully dialed in. This year, we spent the first half of the day watching the few boats basically create blood baths while we struggled to get a bite. After half the day, we figured out a few things going on, made the changes, and put 3 fish in the boat. The one thing we didn’t have was those darn Leo flashers that everyone seemed to be using.

While we were cleaning our fish and boat at the end of the day, we shared the bank space with Bill Harris from Legendary Chrome Guide Service, David Loper with Takedown Guide Service, and Jacob Munden with Rising Son Adventures. We shared a few laughs as Jeff and I tried to pick their brains a bit. We got a few more tips and tricks and shared what worked, what didn’t, and how frustrating it is that things change so often. Jeff’s mom was playing the role of Mamma Dukes trying to scrounge up a Leo flasher for us. Bill Harris came to the rescue and gave us one of his even though no one in the area sells them and are darn near impossible to get last minute.

See why I love this place? In fact, one of our favorite guys down there, Steve Rich (aka pink hands), was the first person to conversate with us many, many years ago in a parking lot. He was just trying to throw a bone to a discouraged couple with parents trying to keep the mood light. We spent the rest of the weekend sharing jokes and laughs and the rest is history.

Although this is Jeff’s birthday, he knows that it’s a grind and quite expensive to go down there but it’s a place that will always challenge him and there’s not many other places we can limit the boat on upper river springers. He decided to get us all birthday presents! Now, Jeff doesn’t really do presents very well, but when he tries, he blows our socks off. We each got our own wrapped present even with our names on it and a personalized gift to go along with the main gift: A Drano Lake hoodie with our job role on the front:

Jeff: “Captain Ahab” – because he truly doesn’t know when to quit. Even when tears are shed. And don’t you dare undermine his authority!

Me: “The First Mate” with my favorite – a bottle of Crown Royal

His dad: “Captain Gordon” with a sailor hat – because after you put a few Budweiser’s in his dad, the captain takes over and he puts us on fish

His mom: “Mamma Dukes” with her favorite Guiness – because she was the neighborhood mom taking care of all the kids

Herb: “The Deckhand” with a bottle of Kraken – because we’ve made too many memories with that bottle and he quickly jumped on board our boat, learned the ropes, and is always making sure we’re fishing effectively and efficiently!

His uncle: “Bar Keep” with a bottle of Fireball which has many stories underneath it – because his role is to sit on the cooler at the front of the boat and ensure everyone is well hydrated

Steve: “The Pink Hand Joker” – because well, his hands are pink from April to August and he has enough jokes to keep you laughing all weekend.

The second day was a good one for us. A little rough in the morning, but it was slow for everyone. We kept adjusting things and trying to figure out what it was going to take to turn these fish on and around 11 AM, we finally started lighting into them. Captain Gordon put 9 fish in the boat that day, including a double! Herb was fighting his first fish of the trip and Jeff thought the other rod was snagged onto it so he basically just opened the bail and let Herb do his thing. After a couple of minutes, we realized the lines were nowhere near each other and Jeff reeled down to find his own fish on his rod. A DOUBLE! I netted Herb’s, he jumped on the motor, and we netted Jeff’s within 2 minutes. See what I mean when Captain Gordon gets on the motor?!

While we were getting ready to wrap up after a serious of tangles, ripped off leaders, and complete chaos, I see the rod next to me getting bit and I quietly put down my bird’s nest and moved a little bit closer. I’m pretty notorious for snatching fish from people, especially springers, but I’ve been good this year! I’ve even handed the rod over or walked right past a reel taking line because others haven’t had as many opportunities as me. But something in my gut told me this was mine and no one else on the boat was the wiser. I’m starring at the reel, not the rod, waiting for line to start peeling and Jeff notices me. He shouts to grab it but we’ve been here before and I told him that it wasn’t ready. He gives the motor a shot and I pick up the rod, fully loaded, ready for my fight. Out of no where, he tries to grab the rod right out of my hands like this ones his. He already caught his 2 that day and it was literally already in my hands. I wasn’t going down without a fight though. While the rod was being tugged and pulled by each of us before the first crank had been reeled, I tucked the butt of the rod under my arm and put my hands on the handle for leverage to bring the rod back down to my level. MINE! Sweet victory! I won!!! After a long battle, and a few net attempts with a 12′ rod and a 5’2″ little girl, we finally got this big boy safely in the net.

The last day was just Jeff, Herb, and I which was nice because it was a lot slower. We had to make our 3 hour drive home and work early Tuesday morning so we didn’t get to fish into the afternoon bite, but we left going 3/5 at 4 PM.

 

At the end of 3 days, we came home with 15 fish and a lifetime of memories. We learned a thing or two about a new flasher, we were reminded how important scents can be, and that even the tiniest detail like where you put the bait loop on the shrimp makes the difference between a bait that is fishing and a bait that is simply keeping the hooks warm. Drano 2017 is one for the books and I can’t wait for next year!

Second Annual Outdoor Chic Clique Ocean Trip

Amy Spoon created this amazing Facebook group called the Outdoor Chic Clique (go join if you’re not already a member) a couple years ago and last year, she organized an all-girls bottom fishing charter on the Tequila Too where 24 of us ventured out into the ocean together and caught species of fish we’d never heard of before. She brought along the crew from Horns and Hooks to film and the episode aired this past spring in Horns and Hooks TV’s second season. She rounded up sponsors and was able to give out fantastic prizes throughout the trip and a grand prize for the biggest fish.

Amy helped build a bond and create new life-long friendships through this trip and our trip this year was even bigger and better. A good mix between new faces, and veterans from the previous year traveled from all over the upper left corner of the US to reunite and make new friends. The trip doesn’t start when the boat leaves the dock, but rather the weeks leading up to the final date. Girls communicated and reached out to find ways to carpool and share houses with complete strangers who have one thing in common: the love of fishing.

Wesport Marina is busy at 5:00 AM as the captains and deckhands prepare for the trips, and the fishermen and women make their final payments, purchase salt water tickets, purchase derby tickets, and try to remember all the items they need to make the venture out into the Pacific Ocean. As we get ready for departure to head out on the Tequila Too, Captain Ken takes a headcount, Amy ensures the camera man is aboard, and the deckhands un-tie us from the dock. The clouds are looking gloomy and the waves are a little bigger than the predicted 2 ft swells as we cross the bar.

We mingle and reminisce on last year’s trip as we ponder what this year will bring. 2 hours out and we finally get to our first destination: Yellow Tail Rockfish. Captain Ken gives 24 ladies the instructions to effectively catch a rockfish and he casually brings up 2 healthy looking rockfish to start off our limit. We hit the rods and with a few tangles and a lot of help from our deckhands (Dan and Joel), we land our limit of rockfish in about an hour.

In addition to the limit of rockfish, we got 2 beautiful Chinook salmon caught during this stop and both successfully landed by Grace Phillips and Morgan Nicks! You can tell by the smiles on these girls’ faces, that this trip was pure happiness!

Captain Ken had a little surprise in store for us. We expected to go ling cod fishing after the rock fish but because of the perfect water conditions and how quickly we caught our rockfish, he was taking us Tuna fishing! Given that the boat was full of live anchovies, I think he had this surprise planned all along :)

2 more hours out into the Pacific, a few naps in between, and we were finally in the area to start finding some Tuna. We took a random drawing to see who would be able to get the jig rods that we were trolling while we found a school of tuna. It took about an hour, but when we hit the first school of fish, we had 2 fish on the jig rods and everyone else ran out to start fishing the live bait. We hooked a couple more before the Tuna moved on and we went back to trolling to find another school.

Couple more schools and 9 Tuna total and we had to start heading back to the coast. Miss Grace Phillips again was able to land the big Tuna and won the prize for the biggest fish of the day – a $125 gift card to Sportsman Warehouse!

The ride back was full of laughter, pictures, giveaways from all the wonderful sponsors, new memories, and the deckhands even showed a few of us how to fillet rockfish; and it’s about 100x harder than they make it look! :)

While most of the girls headed their separate ways back to their homes, a few girls had ANOTHER amazing opportunity to go on an all-girls Tuna trip with Kimber Roberts on Kerry Allen’s boat! She already had a trip planned for the following day and once she found out the all-girls bottom fishing trip was just the day before, she made an all-girls fishing extravaganza and was able to coordinate a boat full of girls to join her in 2 full days of Ocean fishing!


The end of the day is always a bittersweet part of the day. We are sad the day is coming to an end, but we’re all exhausted and ready to get to sleep. We made experiences that we look forward to repeating in another year and we build bonds with women from all ages and walks of life. I have several new friends this year because of this experience and we have been able to build an amazing support group of women not only for fishing, but hunting and your everyday girl issues. We have many girls that don’t get the opportunity to fish regularly, but love the outdoors sports and hunting is their passion. Through the Outdoor Chic Clique and trips like this, we build and incredible bond and a huge pool of resources as we learn, grow, and experience our passion for the outdoors.

Ken Culver from the Tequila Too and his entire crew: Cassie, Dan, and Joel graciously take on this trip each year knowing how much work it can be having a boat filled to max capacity, being filmed while trying to just do your job, and the pressure of fulfilling the expectations of all the girls who look forward to this trip all year. Ken and his crew are patient, efficient, and a pleasure to be around. I haven’t seen many people laugh and smile like them while just doing their job, but they truly make the experience fun and light-hearted. Whatever stresses they have, they are left at the dock and it’s nothing but positive encouragement from the entire crew. They are riddled with questions from our curious minds and Ken always leaves an open door for anyone that wants to come chat during our long travels to our destination. They know the ocean, they know how to catch fish, and they know how to take care of boat full of ladies <3

A huge thanks to Horns and Hooks to join our adventures, try to film the entire event and then to put all of our favorite memories into a TV show that we not only get to share with our friends and family, but a keepsake for us to remember these adventures forever. Brady Palmer was a fantastic camera man this year and somehow managed to be everywhere all at one time and captured the most memorable moments. He made the 4 hour long journey with a boat full of girls not to nap or catch fish WITH us, but to capture these moments FOR us.

The biggest thanks goes to Amy Spoon who somehow finds the time to get this trip planned and makes sure that we get the experience of a lifetime. Her passion and knowledge for fishing is shared with every girl and it’s evident how much she enjoys seeing other women get to have experiences like this. She is a role model and a huge resource to women in both fishing and hunting.

Shout out to all of our amazing sponsors that provided free gear for us to win during our trip!

Girls With Guns: http://www.gwgclothing.com/

They provided each and every girl with a T-Shirt and hat as well as water bottles, headbands, key chains, and stickers to be raffled off during the trip

Badlands: http://www.badlandspacks.com/

They provided bad ass cups to be raffled off that I’m sure I’ll see around at hunting camp this year!

Mountain House: http://www.mountainhouse.com/

They provided trail mix to be raffled off to help keep our hunters nourished and full of energy on all of our outdoors adventures

Gamakatsu: http://www.gamakatsu.com/

They provided shirts, hats, and hooks to keep us fishing with the best quality hook!

Fish Cute: http://fishcute.com/

They provided a gift certificate for a hat and jewelry to be raffled off so that we can still feel girly, while fishing hard

And of course: Tequila Too!! http://tequilatoo.com/

Oh, and the most accomplishing part: unlike last year’s trip which had at least 50% of the group sea-sick, we were vomit free this year!!!