The "fishing hangover" can be painful after a weekend or two of trying to answer those questions, but those kinds of trips always make for some good memories! When I can share them with family and friends (or better yet - family members who I'm friends with), they're even better. See this post, or this post for examples of other such adventures.
My plan for this particular "test-of-fishermanhood" was to spend the weekend back in the motherland (Idaho). I would drive there Friday night, fish for steelhead on Saturday, fish for pike on Sunday, then drive home Sunday night. Doesn't sound too bad right?
Well, just as I was packing my car to leave my plans changed a little. My brother Robert called me and said he and his buddy were going out for some nighttime steelhead trolling, so I should hurry up and get there! You don't have to tell me twice! I booked it there and managed to avoid any speeding tickets. I crossed the Idaho border at 7:30, went and bought my steelhead tag, and was on their boat and fishing by 8:00! We trolled lighted plugs up and down the river, and the fish bit pretty steady for the next few hours. We lost several, but managed to land 4 including a nice 36 incher that I landed just as we started heading home!
|Robert displaying some night-time steel!
|This ended up being my biggest fish of the trip, and at over 13 lbs, I was OK with that!
I hooked four fish and land two that morning: one smallish steelhead and a coho jack! That fish made my day even if it was just a little jack! I caught a nice coho several years ago (see this post) and never expected to get another one.
|See, don't I look surprized?
|I caught eight carp and they all looked identical to this one, or who knows, maybe I caught this one carp eight times...
|He seems to have a distracted look on his face. I'm not sure he's paying attention.
There are coho in the Clearwater again, but not too many of them. At the time of this fishing trip there were about 70,000 steelhead over Lower Granite Dam (the last dam they have to pass to get into Idaho), but there were only about 1,100 coho. So catching even one was surprising enough, but catching three in one day is almost not even believable!
|Battling a Clearwater River Coho!
|Do you see the nose on that thing? The fish has a pretty impressive schnoz too!
I've ambiguously mentioned Zach on here in a few posts, but never officially introduced him until now. We met at the University of Idaho where we were office-mates and we both worked on different aspects of the same steelhead research project. He is a great guy and all, but he has the bad habit of always catching more fish than me, and I honestly cannot say that about many people! In fact I think I've only outfished him once in all the times we've fished together, not that I'm keeping track or anything....
We launched the boat and started fishing with a flurry with high hopes of large teeth at one of our favorite pike spots (OK, it's his spot, he was just nice enough to show it to me. No I won't tell you where it is...). However it was just not in the cards for us that morning. Even Zach, with his freakish ability to summon pike from the depths seemingly at will, couldn't even muster so much as a bite. We called it quits there and headed to another nearby lake (A spot where Zach caught more pike than me on a previous trip, not that I'm keeping track or anything...).
Finally at about 2:00 in the afternoon, it seemed to have warmed up enough, and we started to see some signs of life. Zach was the first to strike (duh...) and landed the first pike of the day. It wasn't a big one, but it got rid of the skunk and seemed to validate our trip and brighten our moods.
|Zach finally got the skunk off our boat with this pretty little fish!
|I finally got rid of my skunk too!
|That fish sure did have a large mouth...
|I figure if the fish is making a duck face, I should too.
|He just couldn't handle me catching the biggest bass, so he pulled in this monster!
I made it back to my own bed by about 1:00 AM on Monday morning, after having spent 25 of the last 48 hours on the water. I'm not sure if I really answered any of the deep, thought-provoking questions that spurred my Mountain Dew fueled fishing binge in the first place, but I'd like to think I can still hold my own in the fishing arena, even if time (and my hair-line) are slowly creeping up on me! And, more importantly, time spent on the water with family and friends (even if they do have the nerve to catch more fish than me) is well worth any amount of missed sleep!