A couple weekends ago the stars aligned and my wife and I both had almost (almost...) two full days off work! So we quickly threw our kids, dogs, and camping stuff into the car and headed down the river!
We crossed the Bridge of the Gods and pulled into the town of North Bonneville and began the search for a free campsite. We ended up by some lake that surely had fish in it, but I had shad on the brain, so I didn't try it. I got the camp set up in the rain and got everybody squared away in the tent, then with a couple hours of daylight left, I headed down to the river.
There were one or two other people there as well (insert sarcastic eye roll here).
|Ya, it's a popular fishing spot... Photo credit goes to this site.|
|The first of many shad!|
|This one had on too much eye shadow.|
|I like this kid! Four AM sleepy-eyes, pop-tart grin, and all!|
|Oneonta Falls. Don't ask me how to pronounce that...|
|My three favorite ladies!|
|The best family trips end like this!|
BUT WAIT! There's more!
The following Saturday, lightning struck twice and I found myself with another Saturday off work so I headed down there again! Just a day trip this time though. They open the fishing access point at 05:00 and if you're not there on time or earlier, you probably won't get a fishing spot. It's a 3.5 hour drive from my house, soooo... I had to leave my house at a very painful 1:30 to make it there on time (I'm not sure if that counts as early in the morning or late the night before...). But I did it and it was worth it! I caught tons more shad and made some new friends.
I was standing next to an elderly Korean man who guffawed in protest when I released my first two shad of the day (I'm a catch and release guy so I wasn't planning on keeping any). He spoke no english, but I managed to ask him via sign language if he wanted my fish. He did. So for the rest of the morning he happily netted, unhooked, and took my fish. It was a good deal for the both of us! (Note: these fish are not native here, but are VERY prolific, so I didn't feel bad about harvesting them. That day almost 100,000 shad were counted passing the Bonneville Dam fish ladders, and that's not even a particularly good day!)
Late in the morning I hooked a fish that was definitely not a shad. Whatever it was didn't seem too concerned at first about the little bit of pressure my light action rod was putting on it. However, after a few minutes, it began to care... It shot off downstream and I knew I'd have to chase it. That might not sound like too big of a deal until you remember now many people were standing shoulder to shoulder allong the entire bank. I had to scramble downstream about 300 yards, durring which time I passed AT LEAST two or three hundred shad fishermen who were still fishing... Luckily my Korean friend was awesome enough to follow me with my net the whole way. He was my untangler. We had to untangle about a dozen lines from mine as we made our way downstream. Somehow, my line didn't break, my light-wire hook didn't straighten, and all the tangles were dealt with and we managed to slip the beautiful spring Chinook salmon into the net! This was not a huge salmon, probably 12 lbs or so, but it was by far the most challenging fish I've ever landed!
|Probably more luck than skill was used to land this fish!|