SHIMANO

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!

Winter Steelhead in Full Swing

I think it’s safe to say we’re in the heart of winter steelhead! It was a pretty rough start this year for most of Washington with the exception of a few rivers. It’s still pretty slow for the most part but the fish that are around, are quality fish. I’ve been busy, busy, busy with exams, the Washington State Sportsman Show, taxes (I actually like those), and still trying to heal my body while building some strength. Lots of goals and accomplishments, but sometimes the journey is exhausting.

I knew I was only going to be able to fish one day this weekend and it ended up being everything I needed. Our buddy Andrew is almost always able to cheer me up and make me laugh non stop and it was just Jeff, Andrew, and I. We got on a couple of native fish in the morning and the rain came pouring down! I really need some new wading gear and I ended up soaking through 2 wading jackets. Something I’ll never deny is that I HATE being wet. I learned quickly how much more I can enjoy fishing when I’m not soaking wet and I must have forgotten for a while how nasty it can be when it pours all day.

I whined quite a bit and I certainly didn’t deserve anymore fish, but the man upstairs must have knew that I needed a little more to cheer me up! This guy hit and fought harder than all of my other fish this year. I’m quite alright with catch and release on wild steelhead all day long, but Jeff really likes to see fish in the boat so he was also pleasantly surprised to see a hatchery fish.

A great day on the water despite being soaked but this was exactly what I needed to head back into the work week!

Fall Salmon

I’ve been slacking on blogging, right? Yes! I have actually been out fishing doing more than just studying – well, sometimes both LOL.

A few weeks ago we headed back to the Hump before we got all that rain and we were still fishing down low. It was one of those days that I was contemplating staying home to study and sleep but figured one more time before the rain was coming. This year with all the pressure that came along with studying I sadly find myself regretting being on the water if I’m not actually going to catch a fish. This never used to be the case – I was a “bad day on the water is better than a good day of work” kind of gal and the river is where I went to escape real life. But I can’t seem to escape the guilt that creeps up inside of me when I do ANYTHING except study – even cook dinner. So, if I don’t catch anything, I feel horrible.

This was one of those days. The weekend before I was on fire in the same exact hole, although I couldn’t quite get to the same spot which makes a big difference in the river. So, I watched float after float go down and the few times mine would go down, I’d be a bad position and set the hook too late. I was ready to leave. It was afternoon and this was more of a grind than I would choose to partake in knowing I should be studying. We headed down river and fished a few holes on the way out and I FINALLY got one to make it to the net! All of a sudden, my day was made and the regret and guilt were gone….just like that. I just need one fish every time.

After all the rain we headed out for a half day – because I needed to be home to study. We got skunked and were happy to call it in early. So, I took a weekend off not really by choice but forced by the rain but I really wasn’t complaining – no guilt this time! We headed back to the coast last weekend with the water still a bit high but just dropping into shape. We did get a few coho to the boat caught on twitching jigs and spinners but I really had a blast with the chum! We pulled wrapped K15′s searching for any willing biter and I got to study while waiting for the bites. I didn’t get much study time in since we were getting hit after just a few minutes, but I had a great day!

I took another exam last week (that was number 4 and I have zero passed) but I won’t find out for another month. So, in the meantime I’m moving back to exam number 1 and hopefully some more fishing this weekend!