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Dave's Interesting Catch

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Dave's Interesting Catch

A day fishing, from the Mouth of the River

The Redband Rainbows are nestling under seven inches of ice up in Killbranen Lake north of Troy, Montana. Not being someone who wants to dig holes in a lake with a wrecking bar and too cheap to buy an ice auger, Dave Lisaius—the world-renowned outdoorsman and fishing expert—and I decided it was time to go Steelheadin. 

From all reports from Fish and Game these fish were being caught by the thousands on the Snake, Clearwater and the Grande Ronde Rivers. We immediately called our world-famous guide and river hierarchy Tim Johnson. Tim is the oldest man on the river, and without a doubt the most experienced. His favorite saying when you come aboard one of his fishing scows is, “Don’t touch the drag on my reels, they’re set just the way I want them. When a fish hits and starts to run, the drag will slow him down and you can reel him in after a good fight, If, however, you tighten the drag he will break off and I loose a nice fish for the fish count on the boat, at which point I throw your ass off the boat.”

Tim doesn’t have many rules on fishing from his boat but tightening the drag on his reels is one of them. Just ask Dave, who was picked up by a passing fisherman while he was floating down the river on our first excursion with Tim, years ago. 

When we got Tim on the phone he said he was booked up for the next two weeks and didn’t have room for two freeloaders to tag along. However, Tim said they were catching fish from the bank on a regular basis just up the Grande Ronde, where it runs into the Snake River. 

The Fish and Game report indicated the steelhead and salmon were returning to these rivers in droves; you could literally walk across the rivers on the backs of Steelhead. “They don’t even rewrite this stuff,” Tim said. “Each year they just reprint what they wrote back in ‘59.” These reports are published and paid for by the local chamber of commerce to help keep the girls off the streets and in the motels and hotels where it’s warmer this time of year. They’re called ‘catch and release girls’ as they may hookup with several fishermen on any given night. 

Dave and I decided to forego the use of a motel because the Grande Ronde was so far up the Snake from Lewiston. We decided to take my motorhome and park it at the confluence of the two rivers so we could get an early start. 

With the smell of bacon frying and me pulling on my rod handle, I heard Dave holler, “Turn that thing loose and get up, breakfast is ready and it’s time to fish!” 

When we stepped outside the fog was so thick you could cut it with a knife; we could hardly see the rivers edge. We rigged our rods with egg sacks and bobbers just like the instructions showed and cast out into the fog. We listened for the “ka-plunk” as our bait hit the water and, our lines tight with the rushing flow of the Grande Ronde, we waited. 

Now, all fisherman know the anticipation that comes with the first cast, the tension mounts and you expect a strike at any moment. Of course, the longer you wait, the tension starts to subside until you’re just standing there looking dumb with a stick in your hand. 

We were still in the tension mode when the first strike came. We didn’t know how far down river the bobber had drifted because of the fog. Suddenly, Dave’s rod went down and tightened up. Dave set the hook and the rod bent almost double as Dave ran back up the bank. “It’s a big one!” Dave shouted as his rod began to shake. “Iyyyeee!” came the screams from the fish. 

“I don’t think fish scream like that,” I said as Dave hung on to his rod that was now jumping up and down. Suddenly, from out of the fog came a silhouette of a man jumping up and down and hanging on to his crotch with both hands, followed by another man waving his arms and shouting, “Stop reeling! Stop reeling!,” as Dave had been running backwards and reeling as fast as he could. The first man was hanging on to two egg sacks, one of which was his. 

These men had been standing out in the river wearing chest waders when our bait drifted by and hung up and wrapped around the first mans waist and the egg sack drifted between his legs when Dave set the hook as hard as he could. It was hard to cut the hooks off with the man jumping up and down and shouting profanity at Dave as loud as he could. His partner helped him back to their truck and off to the Lewiston hospital. 

Dave stood there hanging on to what was left of his tackle and looking down, he said, “Well, I still have my egg sack.” 

I looked over at Dave and warned him, “I don’t think that’s your egg sack. That one’s got hair on it!”

Boots

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Author info

Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

Tagged as:

humor, fishing, From the Mouth of the River, Killbranen Lake, Dave Lisaius, steelhead fishing, Tim Johnson

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