Pushing the Adventure Button

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

My good fortune this week was to drive with my gorgeous ex-fiancee up to go fishing on the Columbia River. My mad friend John Whitlatch and his lovely wife Allie have their Buoy 10 fish camp there at the mouth of the Columbia every year. So we jumped in the wheels, pushed the adventure button, and headed north.

And what is the adventure button when it is at home? Well, for me it is the button on Google Maps that looks like this:

the adventure buttonYou push that joker, and there’s no telling where Google will send you, and you better not be in a hurry … but it will be adventure all the way. For example, in northern Oregon at one point it routed us onto a gravel road for about a quarter mile. Then there was a patch of pavement by some farmer’s house to keep down the dust, followed by another quarter of mile of gravel. That brought us out to a rural airstrip where they were using tow-planes to launch gliders, one after another. After dropping each one off, the tow-plane pilot put on an amazing acrobatics show—stalls, spins, loop-the-loops, eight-point rolls, it was awesome … we watch the aerial play, shook our heads, looked at each other, and rolled on.

The adventure button also took us past lots of plowed fields, which are the natural habitat of that amazing creature, the dust devil. They form wherever they are needed to cool the surface down, and plowed fields run significantly hotter than grass. At one point, there was an amazing parade of dust devils. There was a gentle wind blowing from right to left. The dust devils were forming near the right edge of the plowed field and growing stronger as they drifted across it … only to die out at the left hand edge. I was reminded of the endless line of buckets cleaning up spilled water in the Disney animated film, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And in truth, this was equally magical—when that part of the earth got too hot, an endless stream of dust devils materialized out of nothing, one after another, to carry the excess heat aloft and cool the earth.

And of course, none of this is in the climate models … but I digress.

So we stood amazed by the dust devils, and then after while we continued to stooge on north to the Warrenton KOA where the fish camp is located. I love fish camps, the easy cameraderie, the stories and lies, the river hidden but present in the background. I hadn’t told John I was coming, so he was absolutely stunned by our sudden appearance.

After the preliminary hugs all round, we each grabbed an adult beverage and caught up on what we’d been doing. John never ceases to amaze me, and this was no exception. Here’s the story:

A few years back, Johnny had a client who caught an absolutely humongous salmon on the Kenai River. That’s the boy himself, on the left …

Johnny record kingAfter they measured the length and the girth, Johnny said “I think you have a record fish there, by measurement it should go just over a hundred pounds” … and the world record is 98 pounds. The client said “What would you do with it?”. John said “I’d let it go” … and amazingly, the client did. They stood in awe and watched it swim upstream to spawn.

Now, that in itself is a measure of the man and of his effect on his clients. Before they ever arrived at the Kenai he’d talked to them about catch-and-release, so they were clear on the idea when they arrived. And enough of John’s love of the salmon tribe must have gotten through to the client to get him to make such an astonishing gesture.

But of course, this being a Johnny Whitlatch story, there’s always more. After the dust had died down, he got to thinking—why was there no record for fish that are released? I mean there are records for fish that are kept, but his client got nothing but the joy of watching the mighty fish return to the water.

So John started writing to the IGFA, the International Game Fishing Association. They are the keepers of all of the official fishing records. At first they were cold to the idea, but Johnny is a force of nature … and as a result, after twenty letters or more, there is now a brand-new IGFA category for released fish! Finally, a fishing guide or a fisherman can get the recognition of his or her peers for their accomplishment, WITHOUT having to kill the fish to do it.

I find it difficult to even estimate the difference that this will make to the large game fishes of the planet, which are under increasing pressure from sport fishermen. It is a stunning achievement with lasting effects, and a testament to what one dedicated individual can do.

So, we caught up on the past, and then we set the morning time for a 4:30 meeting at the camp, and went to bed. Every third person in the Warrenton KOA pulls a trailer, so the morning was full of the roar of big Ram Diesels and the like moving out. We got in the truck and went to the marina early to miss the crowd … where we discovered that the boat was nearly out of fuel. So we pulled out of line, and went and got fuel … only to discover that the only problem was a sticky fuel gauge. Ah, the joys of the fisherman. Back to the marina, where the line was now very long, wait and wait, and finally toss the boat in the water.

columbia 1Now, truth be told, I don’t know much about sport fishing. I’ve been a commercial salmon fisherman from Alaska to California, I’ve killed maybe 50,000 salmon in the course of my life, but I know little about sport fishing for salmon. But John had the boat, and all the gear, and he and his uncle Bob were both happy to show me how to go about doing it right.

Of course, for most of the day, all we did was talk story. Fishing is like that. I hooked one, but it broke off. We had half a dozen bites, and then Brett landed a lovely fish.

When the next fish struck, the boys said it was my turn … and I was all thumbs. I was doing fine until the fish got up next to the boat. You have to keep the line taut so the fish can’t spit the hook. But then at the surface I thought I still had a tight line, and John is screaming “Take the slack”, and I look down and I see that I’ve cranked the lead ball out of the water, that’s what’s fooling me by making my rod bend, but the line to the fish was perfectly slack, no tension at all …

There was no way I should have caught that fish, but when a fish wants to get on board there is no stopping it. When John had netted it, as is my invariable custom I spoke my thanks out loud to the fish for sacrificing its life for our food. It was bright and beautiful, nearly three feet long, a noble creature of the sea. I can’t tell you of the pleasure of being out on the sparkling water of the river, laughing and talking with my friends, and catching such a wondrous fish.

And that was all that we caught that day. The sun was still as shiny, the river was as beautiful, but the bite was off. Didn’t stop us from continuing to fish, of course … who knows when they might bite again, and besides the trees were glowing green and the sun was bouncing off the wavelets … even with no fish, what’s not to like?

columbia 2Not only that, but there’s always something new to see on the river, like the other contestants in the salmon fishing game …

columbia 3But all good days must end eventually, so in the afternoon we motored back to the marina, loaded the boat, and rolled back to the fish camp. We were met by questions and laughter and the like, and the day rolled on. I went over to our RV and changed clothes … and then I though “Damn! I left my fish in the boat!” Uh-oh …

For me, as an erstwhile fishing guide, this is a big no-no, you have to take care of your own fish. So I went back to grovel to John … he said no worries, that his good lady Allie and he had gutted it, scaled it, filleted it, vacuum-packed it, and it was in the freezer for when I was ready to leave …

That night we had a lovely campfire, and the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I both broke out our guitars and gave a concert. We sang “Ain’t It Good To Be Back Home Again”. We sang “When I’m 64” in honor of uncle Bob’s previous birthday. It was a night of joy and laughter and music, the essence of fish camp.

Later when they were making up the list for the next day’s fishing, I told John to give my seat to someone else. They tried to press me to go again, but I said one of the things about me being in what I call my “middle youth” (I’ll be 70 in February) is that I’ve learned that there are some experiences that cannot be either repeated or improved on. I knew that yes, I could fish again the next day, but the magic and the mystery of that day could not be equalled. It would just be a pale copy. I had caught my fish, and I was satisfied. It reminded me of the poem by Richard Brautigan

Xerox Candy Bar

Aaaah, you’re just a copy

Of all the candy bars I’ve ever eaten.

So the next day, instead of fishing, the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I broke out the bikes and rode around Fort Stevens, which is at the very last point of land in Oregon at the mouth of the might Columbia. It was another magical day, riding along beside  the river, and then looking out to the ocean itself, I do love to ride bikes with my own true love …

And the next day we had to leave, off to push the adventure button once again. My profound thanks to Johnny, his hard-working wife Allie, uncle Bob, Brett, and all of the folks around the campfire. We’ve now rolled down to South Lake Tahoe, where my one and only daughter is getting married on Sunday … ah, friends, my life with my gorgeous ex-fiancee has been one of immense good fortune, and I can only wish the same good fortune for each and every one of you. And in particular, I wish it for my most non-PC friend, boon companion, and savior of countless fish, Johnny Whitlatch … tight lines, mi amigo, tight lines always …

John WhitlatchMy best to everyone, and don’t forget to push whatever in your life looks like it might be an adventure button …

w.

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72 thoughts on “Pushing the Adventure Button

  1. Pacific salmon are no good to eat when they’re about to spawn, anyway.

    But still, good on them.

    I’ve avoided Buoy 10 for the past 40 years, since it has been possible to walk across the Columbia there from WA to OR by stepping from boat to boat.

    • A Grizz or Brown fueling up for a winter’s hibernation would strongly disagree with you on “no good to eat.” Salmon Roe is prime protein and oils.

    • Gabro September 1, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Pacific salmon are no good to eat when they’re about to spawn, anyway.

      Please don’t tell that to the fish I caught, he doesn’t know he’s supposed to taste bad. We’ve worked our way through three meals of that lovely fish with six other people, all of whom declared it delicious.

      But still, good on them.

      I’ve avoided Buoy 10 for the past 40 years, since it has been possible to walk across the Columbia there from WA to OR by stepping from boat to boat.

      Thanks, Gabro. While I understand the desire to fish where there are not a lot of fishermen, I’ll fish anywhere with anyone, as long as the companionship is good. Lucky I wasn’t listening to you, though, in that case I would have missed an epic fishing adventure.

      Joy is where you find it … for you, I wish a quiet stream with just you and a few others fishing. For me, I’d like that too, but if not … anywhere will do.

      Thanks,

      w.

      • I caught my first fish, and my only salmon, right near there about 20 years ago. Sure it was crowded, but that memory of fishing with my Grandpa is going to stick with me forever. And that salmon was another one that didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to taste good, but I’ve found that the flavor of every fish is influenced by the story of how one acquired it :)

      • Well Willis, I haven’t caught anything like 50,000 fish in the whole of my life, but I have killed some of the fish that I caught. Sometimes unintentionally. The first Tarpon I ever caught (on fly yet) was actually the first one that I ever had grab my fly, but it died while I was trying to release it, probably because of my ignorance, and not getting the fish to the hand to release quick enough. 14 minutes for a 55 pound Tarpon is just too long.

        But mostly I’ve been a sport fisherman most of my life, and have been happy to see them swim off to maybe grow bigger, and hopefully eventually spawn.

        So I’m one of those humans that Jack Cousteau described as akin to snakes crawling on their bellies; the lowest form of humanity, who catch fish “just for fun.”

        Well that got him a lesson in “research” funding, since he found out that those ersatz snakes were a principal funder of his “fun” so he could kill fish to annoy sharks into a feeding frenzy, for his cameras to take videos he used for raising money for his fun expeditions.

        But I’m happy to see that commercial fishing is still able to provide a living for those who do it; as well as food for folks to eat, like me for instance.

        I don’t think I would ever kill a salmon in a river even if it was still fresh and edible. I figure if they made it back from at sea they deserve to run the river, and take their chance with Mother Gaia; plus the bears and eagles of course.

        But I judge nobody who does it some other way. The more people who are interested in the great outdoors in any way, the more we are able to help prevent the kind of mischief that the IPCCs of the world create, with their agenda driven stupidities.

        Glad you had a good time with some good folks Willis.

        G

    • Exactly correct! There are so many miles on the Columbia River where you will not encounter anyone from California. Or anyone else for that matter.

      If you want good salmon, catch it in Alaska.

      KOA! Really! Not my idea of adventure. Rather camp at Walmart. Which I have never done.

  2. Good fishing story.

    But you know about those fisherfolk and their stories. “it was bright and beautiful, nearly three feet long,”. Meh. We use those for bait!

    Thanks for sharing. Keep on adventuring!

    • I’ve caught “Bill fishes” only eight inches long on rod and reel, and they were simply delicious to eat.

      I don’t use anything for “bait”. If I can’t get a fish to grab a fake imitation “prey” critter, specially one I tied myself, who cares ??

      If your target quarry swallows your three foot long “bait” then you probably are going to have to kill it anyway, with a hook stuck in its gullet.

      g

      • Hi George,
        My little comment was just an attempt at some humor. I actually prefer the artificials too. Bent barbs and all.

        You know about us fisherfolk and our stories I’m sure. Two guys chatting. One shares how big his fish was and the 2nd fellow takes down the story by offering the ‘we use those for bait’ line. But you can never trust a fishing story. Not the first (who never has a chance). And certainly not the second.

        All in good fun!

        Regards,

  3. Sounds like the “essence” of a road trip with a bit of fishing to top it off. Enjoy the Wedding.

    • MfK asks: “Okay, which one is the gorgeous ex-wife?”

      “If fishing was easy, I would be called your Mom”? Need you ask more? I think we can all assume Willis is a man of distinguished tastes?

      • PS: aside from getting the logo on the shirt wrong (“It would be called your Mom”) That’s a really big fish Willis. I’d soak it in maple syrup and smoke it. Or just smoke it. Nice fish.

  4. Willis,
    Didn’t you see the imminent signs that climate change-caused CAGW is going to turn all that Oregon beauty into a MadMax wasteland?

    And How much of Obama’s and Leo DiCaprio’s precious petroleum did you use for all that proletariate self-indulgence? Oregon even won’t let you pump your own gas at the pumps. And they are shuttering their coal-CO2 belching power plants to save us from our carbon sins.

    Because, You see, oil and it’s refined products aren’t for us little people, our boats, RVs, and Ram trucks. It’s to be saved for the ruling class and their family, their yachts, their private jets to Swiss chalets and Hawaiian bungalows…. just as Nottingham Forest deer were reserved for the nobility, whilst the peasants starved.

    /sarc. I am in a very sarcastic mood lately. Mostly due to reading too many of Obama’s lies, fabrications, and in-your-face deceit.

    Enjoy Willis. Enjoy. Life is Good. (get the T-shirt).

    • California emigres ruined Oregon years ago, so too late to stop that.

      After destroying California, and installing an immovable socialist government, they all fled; “so their kids could grow up in a better environment. ”

      Thanks for what you did to the Golden State.

      G

  5. Fresh back from a holiday in Homer, Alaska, where I had the opportunity to catch my first halibut. A number of charters there made participants aware that if they released any halibut 48″ in length or more, they would go into a monthly draw for USD 500.
    Good to see recreational fishermen being provided with incentive to release large breeding females, that are nowhere near the quality of a 30″ fish with regards to eating.

      • Looks fine to me. I think Chinooks get up to 125 pounds. I know I’ve seen a fiberglass mount of one that was a lot over 100 pounds.

        A 20 pounder is a lot better size to eat, and preferably right out of the open ocean water; not in a river. (pollution).

        G

  6. The fishing could have resulted in about anything at buoy 10. Last time I was there at this time of year my bride caught a Steelhead, I caught a King and my son caught a Silver, a regular sampler of salmonellae on the Columbia River. At any rate the story of the Record setter released is great stuff I’d heard from a pal that used to fish the Salmon River in Idaho that in Idaho some time back that a poacher had been caught with three fish one night any one of which would have been the new record for rod and reel. Adventure on Willis!

  7. I never understood “catch and release”. Sometimes it takes all day to catch something.
    If I catch a trout, if it is over 6” long I will have it for dinner of for breakfast. When I catch a fish, it is for eating. When you shoot a deer, you don’t release it into the wild. Most fish, after catching will die from the hook damage…just sayin…
    Willis, enjoyed your story as I always do…

    • J. Philip, thanks for your thoughts. Some people catch fish to eat, and like you I’m one of them. But ten years ago I released the most magnificent king salmon I ever caught, a huge monster … and I would do it again any time. It deserved to spawn.

      As to the death rates, I fear that you have been misinformed. Measured mortality rates for released king salmon in the Kenai are only 13% for males, and 7% for females.

      All the best, JP, keep eating those fish …

      w.

    • “Catch and release” is central to the cAGW hypothesis; a person doesn’t need any empirical evidence, a good and well told story will suffice.

      • I have to say that I’m a bit surprised that catch and release was not recognized. Remembering correctly, salt water tournaments have been recognizing catch, tag and release for years for particular species anyway like sailfish.

    • I live adjacent to a community retention pond (~1 acre). It’s very relaxing to go out after a stressful day at work, catch a few fish, and let them all go. I catch and release for three reasons:
      1) The pond is fairly small, so I imagine that the population would drop pretty quick if I every fish I caught went in the frying pan.
      2) Not sure what contaminants are in the fish from the water runoff from the neighborhood.
      3) For the fish stories. Last summer I was sitting around with 2 of my neighbors and we all had our own story of catching a giant bass. I’m pretty sure that was the same bass that all three of us had caught at different times, which was only possible because none of us ate it.

      That being said, I have no problem with anyone who keeps any legally caught fish for dinner or breakfast.

    • “I never understood “catch and release”.”

      Well Phillip I can not understand fishing these days. It appears to be about big engines, making noise, and getting drunk. When your truck and boat is louder than the passing train locomotive, it is not about

      I did fish when I was young, and took our boys fishing. Part of the enjoyment was cooking the fish over a camp fire. I observe a small number fishing from small boats or the shore on a daily basis. I get that.

    • Well so much for what you know about it.

      Virtually ALL “catch and release fishers, use exclusively artificial lures; either flies or jigs or lures of other kinds.

      No fish is dumb enough to swallow an artificial fly or a jig or spoon. They spit it out as soon as they gum it and find it’s not real, so you almost always hook them in the jaw, or you don’t hook them at all.

      Fishing with bait is almost always fatal to the fish.

      Yes the fish is likely to get a sore jaw for a while. Even if you break it off, and leave the hook in the jaw, it will be dislodged in no more than a couple of days.

      Yes it is traumatic for the fish. You can debate that.

      As for pure game fish like Tarpon or bonefish, I have released everyone I ever caught. Yes my first one that died, I did not keep. We left it on the bottom for the sharks. They do prey on them anyway. no it was NOT fun to see that beautiful fish die.

      If I’m going to eat a fish I catch, well yes I have to kill it, same as the commercials do.

      G

    • I find no attraction to C&R either . To me it’s a quasi-religion .

      Nor do I find attraction fishing trucked in fish . There’s a big business in fly fishing around here , but passing the semis of trout tankers by Deckers carting their re-stock up to Cheesman reservoir reveals the artificiality of the whole activity . Catch & Release as an intention introduces a similar artificiality making the activity less inviting .

      I did ocean fish off Long Island with our downstairs Paris Cafe party a few times the years I lived by the Fulton Fish Market . I concentrated on the fishing , not the party , on keeping my line baited and in the water and at a productive depth , and caught the most fish — for which there was no prize .

      I would fish if I lived among the Everglades . I drove the interstate out into them when I was in Fort Lauderdale some years ago . The fecundity of the area , the prodigious production of biomass makes it impossible to imagine it being over-fished given the minimal access to massive areas . The annual per hectare productivity must be an order of magnitude greater than our puny mountain lakes and streams .

  8. Obviously the size of all these fish has been affected by CAGW and they are therefore smaller than they would have been so the fishermen have to compensate for this in the telling of the tail.
    I can remember a holiday in Scotland where we would walk from where we stayed across a road and onto the beach fish for Plaice and walk back and have them for breakfast or tea, that beach went on for miles and you could wade out for half a mile and only be waist deep we were often the only ones there wonderful times.
    Enjoy the wedding and journey home.

    James Bull

  9. SORRY it is out of place, but I would like to know if heard of that video

    our national “Becassine” – is on – (different from Becassine from Bretagne – a nice cartoon)

  10. I am surprised by both the telogical approach to dust devils (e.g. they occur “where needed” ) and
    the claim that they are not in climate models. Dust Devils are a result of convection and convection is certainly in climate models. the grid size of global climate models is too small to capture dust devils but where is the evidence that convection is not properly modelled?

    • I’d have to disagree convection is in climate models. It defies reason they might be. To the best of my ability to uncover the “secret” methods employed by climate models, they don’t consider convective energy transfer. It could be this isn’t true, however in conversation with alarmists, they believe lab bench demonstrations of CO2 in a glass enclosure accurately reflect energy transfer in the wild, which is patently false since there is no convective transfer in a glass bottle.

      Or did I miss something?

      • not sure why it would defy reason since it is an obvious thing to include. And a quick google search suggests that it has been done so since the late 70’s. See “Climate modeling through radiative-convective models”
        (DOI: 10.1029/RG016i004p00465) published in 1978 for more details. it is true that it still needs work but it
        it is in the models.

      • Thank Geronimo. I wasn’t joking about having looked, or about having long-winded discussions with equally poorly informed alarmists on the subject. It usually comes up in a discussion of those experiments run by that old Swede back in the 1800’s, Arronson? Arrhenius? Since he conducted his experiments in a bottle he naturally didn’t model convection and lapse rate, which is sort of important in my opinion.

        It’s been the source of endless flame wars. I’ll most certainly read your reference.

      • Bartleby, next time you get into an discussion with an alarmist point out that Arrhenius also refused to accept the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment and persisted in believing in a luminiferous aether.

      • @Geronimo: Just for the purpose of closure, I was able to find a readable version of your citation on the web, free of charge. I’m still working my way through it.

        I remain curious to know how convection is actually modeled in the various CMIP5 attempts. It’s useful to know what sort of models might be used and your citation is very good in that respect, but to what degree do we know they are used and they’re used correctly? So far, the CMIP5 track record for accuracy hasn’t been impressive.

      • @Duster: Well, even Einstein reportedly had difficulties with Heisenberg. Not sure that’s “damning evidence” WRT Arrhenius. Skepticism sort of goes with the territory :)

    • I can’t get an un-blurred version of the 1978 paper but the little I can see shows a one dimensional model of convection (altitude). Do the present models have more than that? Otherwise, though it is modeled, it is certainly not at the level that Willis is describing. And of questionable value. Show me more.

      Bernie

    • Geronimo September 2, 2016 at 1:26 am

      I am surprised by both the telogical approach to dust devils (e.g. they occur “where needed” ) …

      First off, I think you mean “teleological”. Teleology is describing things in terms of their apparent purpose. Despite many prejudices against it, it is indeed often valuable to describe things in terms of their FUNCTION rather than what the ARE. You are correct that “as needed” implies incorrectly that the earth “needs” something … but the fact remains that the dust devils only appear when the earth is very warm, and their function is to cool it off.

      and the claim that they are not in climate models. Dust Devils are a result of convection and convection is certainly in climate models. the grid size of global climate models is too small to capture dust devils …

      I think you mean “the grid size of global climate models is too LARGE to capture dust devils”, which is totally correct. Models can only guess at sub-gridscale phenomena … which sadly includes two of the most important emergent climate phenomena, dust devils and thunderstorms.

      However, you go a bridge too far when you finish …

      … but where is the evidence that convection is not properly modelled?

      I said absolutely nothing about “convection”, nor about whether or how it is modeled. Some parts of it are indeed modeled, but some parts of it (particularly the deep tropical convection) are parameterized … but all of that is a very different subject.

      Thanks,

      w.

  11. Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll sit around in a boat, drinking beer and lying about the ones that got away, all day.

  12. Brautigan?!!! Now HE would’ve have been interesting on a fishing trip. “Trout Fishing in America” was a metaphorical wonderland…

  13. Willis,

    I read this article after returning from catfishing last night. Nice! Thank you.

    Regarding catch and release: One of the major causes of fish mortality is fighting a fish to exhaustion. Of course one never knows when a really big’un will select your offering, but I always try to use twice (or more) the line strength of the weight of the fish typical for the area I’m fishing. Haul ’em in quickly and it really raises the survival rate. (The bass fishing professionals reel in so fast that they surf their fish across the water. Fish = money and they must be alive at weigh-in.)

    Tight lines to all the angles here.

    • HR
      As an Angle – fro England {Angleland, corrupted}, many thanks.
      To the anglers – agreed, although I have no great skin in that game; I once landed a near 300 lb grouper, using a 5 ton crane, but that is another story.

      Auto, who likes fish fingers occasionally.

  14. Great story Willis!

    I feel like going fishing myself now :-)

    If we get much more rain here in the Tampa area, I will be able to fish from my living room couch…….

  15. Nice story. So in the great scheme of things your gorgeous ex fiancée was only your fiancée for a very brief moment in time? For about the same length of time as a volcanic eruption affects the global climate…

    tonyb

  16. This story may give the false impression that fishing consists of mostly sitting around in social settings having pleasurable human interactions, interrupted occasionally by a fish taking a baited hook.
    True fisherman are concentrating on the strategy of catching the fish, not telling fish stories. Of course, the self-proclaimed elite of the fishing world – the fly fishermen – don’t depend upon boats and trailers and gas powered outboard motors. If Eschenbach wants a new, unique fishing experience, he might give fly fishing a try – go for trout, which often are found in streams where catch and release is the law, not personal preference. I would only fish where I have the right to keep what I catch, subject to the fishing rules in place. For many fisherman, especially the pan fish variety (Crappie, Bluegill, Perch) they provide a service of sorts by keeping their catch – in lakes where I fish, these small fish need to be weeded out, since they tend to overpopulate, making it difficult for any of them to reach normal adult size. I also cannot imagine anyone referring to a Crappie as one of Nature’s best efforts. They seem almost designed to be eaten, which they are, if not by man, then by the bigger fish like the voracious large mouthed Bass. My object is not only to fish but to eat what I catch, and pan fish generally have the preferred taste,especially Trout and Perch. But if you want to get into the deep involvement of fly fishing, you will find yourself in places and doing things that are much more in line with your taste in Nature. Fly fishing certainly is the elite version of the sport. Give it a try. The equipment required to fish, whichever type you prefer, costs a releatively small amount of moolah. A very respectable ultralight spinning rod and reel (just right for pan fish) , for example, can be had for under $50.

    • Here’s my NOT fly fishing story:
      About 30 years ago we lived in a small outbuilding (it was Norman Rockwell’s old studio) in the town of West Arlington VT. It is a small place with it’s own covered bridge over the Battenkill River. The Battenkill is famous for trout fishing. There is a huge Orvis store selling all sorts of fly fishing gear right up the road in Manchester.

      Needless to say, there were many avid trout fishers who would come up just to fish the Battenkill. They could easily afford and spend thousands on equipment with no guarantee of any results. We would here the stories at the local general store about how so-and-so spent a whole weekend standing in hip waders and caught nothing.

      We thought this was hilarious as every night after work we would roll our inner tubes about 100 yards into the river for an early evening tubing sortie. We got to know when the trout were feeding and floated right through the schools. Jumping and snapping at the insects all around us, their silver bellies glistening in the setting sun. Never wanted to actually catch one, just watching was enough.

      BTW, a lot of the neighbors had been painted into Rockwell’s covers, it was amazing to see them 40 years later…

    • Here’s my not fly fishing story. I generally dipnet 50 reds, more or less, in two days, most years. (A very humble number I know).

    • BZ Art. I love living away from big cities. If there is a downside, it is the folks who visit from the big city and bring with them. If you want noise go to Vegas, do not bring a boombox camping.

      I was with a group of people from Southern California at a mountain cabin in Tahoe. I was the only hick from the Midwest. I learned to ski with equipment from navy special services. At that point in my I had my own equipment because I lived close enough to slopes to go frequently but got my ski clothing at a garage sale.

      The LA folks had expensive cloths, the ‘lovely’ women had just been to hair and nail salon. The topic of conversation at one the most beautiful places in the world was how much they all hated seeing fat people in public.

      I went for a long walk.

  17. “I think you have a record fish there, by measurement it should go just over a hundred pounds” … and the world record is 98 pounds.
    Willis – you forgot to blame it on Global Warming/Climate Change!

  18. as the saying goes ” a bad days fishing is better than a good day at work” . the fact you had a good days fishing is just the icing on the cake willis.
    i probably spend in excess of 500 hours most years recreational fishing for all sorts of species ,mainly from the uk shoreline.

    night fishing for winter cod in onshore storms is my favourite discipline.it is amazing the peace and quiet that can be found amidst a roaring winter sea.

  19. Willis – really enjoyed the story and pictures. I’m an outdoor enthusiast too.
    Of course you probably know that large billfish are customarily caught and released.
    Several years ago on a one-week trip out of Oregon Inlet (strangely located in North Carolina) we were fortunate to catch two blue marlin. One was about 300lb and the other about 9-feet (est) / 550lb. We got some pictures and cut the leaders. The hooks rust out quickly. These giants live to procreate and get bigger, perhaps to be caught again. who knows!

  20. Willis,k

    “… and besides the trees were glowing green and the sun was bouncing off the wavelets … even with no fish, what’s not to like? ”

    I’ve fished many times in my life, from sunfish to tuna, but it’s the “being there” I always enjoyed the most. In fact, when we moved to the Central Valley (in N. Cal.) I wanted to be out on the big river (the Sacramento), and I designed and built a small wooden boat so I could be. And many times during hundreds of “adventures” on the river, and mountain lakes in the area, others in boats or on shore would ask us how the fishing was, and I had to sheepishly answer; I didn’t know, we weren’t fishing.

    Now that I think about it, there has never been a fishing pole on that boat . . I went one better than catch and release, you might say ; )

    Good reading, thanks.

  21. Willis’ bambi tale was so far past silly I thought he was doing satire at first? I’ve lived on the Kenai since Statehood and that old dead King (pictured) wasn’t a 100lb.er- not to mention I’ve caught and handled plenty of fish coming to that creek. 50k lb. (!) isn’t even a decent season in the Cook Inlet, having worked net locations that have done that wt in a day, I’ll take my point of view over Willis’.

    The idea of turning loose a red (read; dead in a few weeks) salmon is so ‘romantic’ it calls to question 100% of what I’ve read of Willis’ otherwise seemingly well reasoned explorations of logic reason and common sense on so many other subjects. If a leading thinker is himself subject to ‘disney-ism’ what does that say about his other views? When a hard nosed “just the Facts Ma’am” intellectual spouts green “feel good” malarkey; it sure does erode my former respect for his other views.

    Once a salmon is in fresh water (Kenai River is only salty twice a day up to the tidal flood at Eagle Rock or so) at maturity, and begins to turn red #1 its not worth eating because it’s already begun to change the oil’s taste. (rancid-If salmon tastes ‘fishy’ its spoiled) #2 it will die in the natural course of things and may not even be a spawner (contributor to genetic legacy) depending on the area it’s compelled to try an use- some creek beds are too shallow for that large a fish- they don’t reproduce unless its in the lower Kenai. #3 What possible good is turning loose a large fish to become fertilizer for willows, grass or seagull food, when it may make the sport fisherman some nice trophy? #4 Sorry, Willis evidently doesn’t even seem to know what well handled fresh salmon tastes like? [I admit I rarely eat Chinook (king) as its not nearly as flavorful as Sockeye (red).]

    Color me disappointed to hear one of the physical worlds’ most well written, and in my view, articulate realists spouting romantic barn yard offal.

    Kevin Morin
    Kenai, Alaska

    • Kevin Morin September 2, 2016 at 8:22

      The idea of turning loose a red (read; dead in a few weeks) salmon is so ‘romantic’ it calls to question 100% of what I’ve read of Willis’ otherwise seemingly well reasoned explorations of logic reason and common sense on so many other subjects.

      Since I didn’t say one damn word about turning loose a red salmon, what it calls into question is whether you can actually read or not … and apparently the answer is “NO”. Unless you meant “a red colored” salmon, in which case you can actually read, but apparently you can’t either write or think clearly. Yes, they turn red after they enter the river … so what? They are still headed upstream to spawn, they’re not sick, they are full of strength and are going home. So why not turn it loose if you want to?

      Once a salmon is in fresh water (Kenai River is only salty twice a day up to the tidal flood at Eagle Rock or so) at maturity, and begins to turn red #1 its not worth eating because it’s already begun to change the oil’s taste. (rancid-If salmon tastes ‘fishy’ its spoiled)

      1# I didn’t say it was or wasn’t worth eating, what are you babbling about? You are attacking some sick fantasy of your own, I said nothing about that.

      #2 it will die in the natural course of things and may not even be a spawner (contributor to genetic legacy) depending on the area it’s compelled to try an use- some creek beds are too shallow for that large a fish- they don’t reproduce unless its in the lower Kenai.

      2# “It will die in the natural course of thing” … gosh, you are freakin’ brilliant, thanks for telling us, no one here would have guessed that.

      And as to whether or not it is a “spawner” … just why do you think it is swimming up the river? Do you think it is just going to have lunch in Soldotna or something?

      Next, not sure what you are calling the “lower Kenai”, but if you mean below the Soldotna bridge, the idea that big fish don’t spawn above the bridge is a joke. Why do you think they extended the slot limit above the bridge back in 2006? Hint … because there is an estimated sport harvest ABOVE the bridge of more than five HUNDRED kings that are more than a metre long.

      #3 What possible good is turning loose a large fish to become fertilizer for willows, grass or seagull food, when it may make the sport fisherman some nice trophy?

      3# The point is not that it will become food for other things. The point is that if you let it go it has a chance to SPAWN, a fact which you are doing your best to deny but which is the reason the fish is in the river at all …

      And no, those released fish do NOT just die and become fertilizer. The death rate for released kings in the Kenai is a mere 13% for males and 9% for females. Go tell your scary stories of impending fish death for released kings to someone who might actually believe them.

      #4 Sorry, Willis evidently doesn’t even seem to know what well handled fresh salmon tastes like? [I admit I rarely eat Chinook (king) as its not nearly as flavorful as Sockeye (red).]

      4# My friend, I would wager that I have killed, cooked and eaten FAR more salmon than you ever will. And like you, I think reds taste better than kings ( although I state it as a my preference, while you foolishly state it as a fact, as though your taste buds were the ultimate authority … no surprise there).

      You have no idea what I know or don’t know about how salmon tastes. Now you’re just talking out your fundamental orifice.

      Color me disappointed to hear one of the physical worlds’ most well written, and in my view, articulate realists spouting romantic barn yard offal.

      Damn, you are a nasty piece of work, aren’t you? Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? It’s clear that you are violently opposed to catch-and-release in any form, and you have some bizarre beliefs as a result. And while that’s fine for you to believe, I can only tell you that you can piss on my boots all you want … but you’ll never convince me it’s raining …

      w.

  22. The persistent minority that oppose sport fishing with rod and line need to be aware that sport fishermen (called “anglers” in Britain) are often the first to know of any water quality problems in a waterway. To any other onlooker nothing would seem different but a fisherman immediately knows if there’s a problem. Thus sport fishermen play an important role in ecosystem monitoring, voluntarily at their own expense.

    As a teenager in the Fens of Cambridgeshire, UK I used to regularly cycle to a remote tiny canal out in the middle of nowhere – fields of arable crops to the horizon all round. More of a ditch really – but full of tench, roach and rudd. Till one day I started fishing and caught nothing but eels. Later I heard that a farmer had swilled out buckets of pesticide in that canal. No-one but the cognoscenti who fished there would have known – or cared.

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