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Size Matters

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to the Mouth of the River. At least, it does when you're fishing

 I mean, you wouldn’t lie to me about a thing like that, now would you? I mean, the size of it? Or how long it is? How many times have you been lied to about a thing like that? These days women have been asking men on their first date if they practice catch and release. If they admit they do, then the woman knows how much of what he tells her she can believe.

  Catch and release has been implemented into the realm of fishing with one simple intent, which is to allow the fish to grow larger and, in some cases, reproduce. It also allows other fishermen a chance to catch that same fish. Being able to grow larger seems to work quite well. In most cases the fish doubles in size by the time the fisherman gets to the nearest bar or meets up with his friends. His wife already knows it was small and ignores his bragging, even if he swears on a stack of Field and Streams.

   Women, on the other hand, say size doesn’t matter as long as they catch something. For instance, my wife, Lovie, and I were floating the Clark Fork River with Cliff Dare in one of his drift boats one afternoon. Cliff was rowing and both of us were casting with flies. Lovie was seated in the back using a spin pole, while I had the front of the boat to myself, because of their constant whining about my casting ability. You’d think being caught in the ear or nose by a tiny fly wouldn’t be that annoying. I mean really, it just looks like a mosquito bite or, at the most, a pox mark. We had been out most of a beautiful day on the river and Lovie was soaking up the sun to a point of almost dozing off, leaving her lure to drift aimlessly down the river. Suddenly, her pole bent down and the break started screaming as the line was being stripped from the reel. 

  “Fish on,” Cliff said with a grin as Lovie kept trying to reel it in to no avail. 

  While the boat continued to drift down the river, Cliff started to row back up stream, but Lovie wasn’t gaining any line as the reel continued to unwind. Cliff stopped rowing and dropped the anchor. 

  “You’re hung up on the bottom. Hand me your rod and I will jerk it loose or break the line and if I break your lure off, I’ll just put you a new one on,” Cliff explained. 

  He started by giving short jerks with the pole and then he yanked real hard several times, causing both Lovie and myself to dive for the bottom of the boat. No one wanted to get hit in the head with a piece of lead the size of a 45 slug with hooks on it. But the lure didn’t come loose, nor did the line snap. Cliff set there for a minute dumbfounded, and then the line started to move off in a different direction. 

  “Here, take your pole, what you got here is a big fish,” he said with a surprised look.   

After what seemed like hours of fighting this fish with light tackle, Lovie finally brought the fish alongside the boat where Cliff and I both guessed it to weigh between 12 and 14 lbs. 

  Lovie said, “Well, maybe six.”

  Women just won’t believe guys when the evidence is right in front of them. Go figure. She missed the weight of a chicken at the supermarket the other day by twelve pounds. No wait, that was me. I thought it was a turkey. Hey, when they’re naked like that they all look alike.

  A friend of mine, who I fish with quite often, has Hairlip Charters Out of Hope, Idaho. He’s always bragging on how much bigger the fish he catches are than everyone else. Funny, that never happens when I fish with him! You’d think he was from Texas rather than California the way he tells stories. So I bought one of those liar’s scales you get at any sporting goods stores. They’re spring loaded, so the weight they give you is quite questionable. A five-pound fish may weigh as much as seven pounds or as little as three. I hung it up in a tree and tied a forty pound rock on it and left it overnight; by morning the spring had lost its tension. I slipped it on his boat and now everything he catches weighs twice its normal weight. He thinks all the fish caught on his charters are whoppers! Even his clients are pleased with their near record fish. 

  I figure you can’t go through life without going on at least one snipe hunt, and I thought I had sure passed that a long time ago, but, recently I have found myself on several. Seems I have wanted to catch myself a mess of walleye. Everyone who has done so claims they are the best eating of any fish, any where. Now, I have sampled many species of fish prepared in all the ways recommended by all the experts and their wives, but it wasn’t until I started to pursue this fish seriously that I found out what a snipe hunt this could be. First, my friend and fishing buddy, Dave, the Indian guide from Spokane, took me on a snipe hunt to Banks Lake. I should have gotten suspicious when we put our boat in the water and everyone else was taking theirs out. All day we jigged, doodle socked and bounced bait on the bottom. We even harnessed up a worm to a wire pogo stick and bounced it off the bottom. All day we entertained and amused those fish. I even thought at one point I heard one giggle. My wrist hasn’t been that sore since I was a teenager; in fact, I had to eat my beans left-handed that night!

  While Dave is an excellent fisherman and seldom has to stretch the size of his catch, we found ourselves skunked on not one, but three trips and on three separate lakes no less. 

  When our old guide and friend Tim Johnson, from Clarkston, Washington, found out our dilemma on catching walleye he just laughed. 

  “Meet me in Spokane and we’ll go walleye fishing,” he offered.  

  The first morning at China Bend on the Columba River I caught my first walleye. A twenty-one incher, and as they say, the rest is history. Hell, there’s nothing to this snipe hunting if you have the right guide.  But by two o’clock that afternoon the temperature was 100+, and yes, it can get too hot to fish. But my snipe hunting was over. And by the way; they are the best eating fish you ever locked a lip around.

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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.

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fishing, From the Mouth of the River

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