Growing up around the water, naturally, I learned to love fishing. Something I think I inherited from my Dad. Being the good ole Norwegian that he is, my Dad was an avid fisherman. Here he is….
When I was little, living in Astoria Oregon, which is on the mouth of the Columbia River, my dad would wake my brother and I up before the sun came up, and drag us out on the boat with him to fish for Tuna, and Sturgeon. I slept (on the boat) through most of the actual “fishing” part, but remember pretty vividly the commotion afterwards when we would take the day’s catch back to the house, and lay them all out on the front lawn in size order and take pictures, most of the time with myself or my brother in the picture for size reference, haha. If you aren’t familiar with sturgeon, they are HUGE. They are the largest freshwater fish in North America. They can grow up to 20 feet long. Yeah. Like I said…HUGE. Not sure what the longest one my dad ever caught was, but when you’re 5 years old, they all look about 20 feet long! They’re kind of prehistoric looking with the spiny barb things (ultra-technical term) along their backs. Here is a photo I took of one in the tank at Cabelas.
Strange looking as they are, they make for really good eats! Because my dad was such an avid fisherman, my step-mom, Lulu, had to get really creative with the catch. If you’ve ever seen Forest Gump (who hasn’t?), think of Bubba Gump and his Bubba Gump Shrimp Co…..shramp (that’s “shrimp” with a “southern accent”) gumbo, shramp soup, deep-fried shramp, pan-fried shramp, shramp kabobs, shramp creole, shramp cakes….and so on. It was the same thing for us, with sturgeon. So, Lulu prepared for us, with copious amounts of love, sturgeon balls (and no, these are not little tiny fish testicles, they were similar to a crab cakes, only in more of a ball shape), pan-fried sturgeon, baked sturgeon, smoked sturgeon, sturgeon steaks, and I can’t remember what else. I do remember that sturgeon balls froze well, so we had them A LOT. Oh yeah, and did I mention that my dad, the avid Norwegian fisherman…..um…..doesn’t like to eat fish? I don’t know what he ate while the rest of us were eating sturgeon this or sturgeon that, but if I was Lulu, I would have been cramming sturgeon down his throat whether he liked it or not.
Let’s think about this for a minute…..My dad has been fishing all of my life. Tuna, Sturgeon, Salmon, Halibut, Crab, and I’m sure many others, but those were the biggies. Yet he doesn’t like to EAT….ANY of them. He is a stickler for only having the freshest brightest salmon to smoke, and then he gives it away. He is the one who opened my eyes (as an adult, cuz I really didn’t give a rip when I was a kid), to the difference between fresh home canned tuna, and the crap you buy in the grocery store. It’s A-MA-ZING. It’s like you’re eating two different things completely….yet HE….doesn’t eat either. Makes no sense. We would make smoked salmon dip from some of his fresh smoked yumminess, and then he’d send the whole tub home with me. Not that I’m complaining, cuz…DUH!! I got a whole tub of fresh smoked salmon dip! But wow, giving up gold like that…is just, well, wow. But who am I to question. I can just consider my Dad the “Angel Fisherman” put on this earth to make sure (other) people eat GOOD FISH. It’s his gift to the world. 🙂
So I grew up loving fish, and learned to fish with a regular rod and reel when I was young. I didn’t really get the “itch” to seriously fish till I was in highschool. I asked my dad to teach me how to fly fish after he moved to Bend, Oregon. I would love to say I learned to fly fish on the Deschutes River, but nope. I learned to fly fish in the yard. Casting took practice. So dad had me practice practice practice on land….wide open land, so that I didn’t hook all the trees or bushes. Fly fishing adds a little more “activity” to fishing for me. I like the movement, of it. I do like to fish with a regular rod and real also, but I sometimes get bored just sitting….waiting. I can say, that the first river I fished on with my fly pole was the Deschutes. Dad and I fished together. It was pretty cool. No, I didn’t catch anything.
Unfortunately, I do more “fishing” than “catching” with my fly pole. It’s another great lesson in patience for me. 😉 I have made a couple of catches with my fly pole over the years. I didn’t catch my first one till I was in my 20’s. It was caught in the Deschutes River, and as luck would have it, it was caught on camera, so I can’t even tell a tall tale about how HUGE it was. But really, even though it was the size of a sardine, I was SO excited. I’m almost too embarrassed to show you my very first catch………almost……………look closely and you’ll see it….. (please don’t fall out of your chair laughing)
A couple of years later, a friend of the family who had a place on the Canal across the road from ours, John Normand, told me about some beaver ponds up in the hills near Hood Canal that he frequently fished. Told me I had a much better chance of actually “catching” something there. I was IN! And he was right! I know it’s not huge, but remember, this is fly fishing, which is twelve times harder than regular fishing (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!) Here is a Brown Trout I caught there
Here are a couple Pink Salmon that I caught with a regular rod and reel, on the Skykomish River in Snohomish County
My daughter has also learned to love fish. She is more interested in observing and interacting with them, than she is holding a pole with line that disappears into nothingness, and then having to wait. I’m sure her patience will increase with age. Last summer, she was fishing off of the dock at the Canal and I had to laugh at this conversation we had…..
Emma: “Mom, why aren’t they (fish) biting?”
Me: “maybe they’re just not hungry right now”
Emma: “well I’m not trying to FEED them, I’m trying to CATCH them.”
My response was just laughter. Oooh, right, right. Sorry, my bad.
Here she is the first time she fished off the dock at the Canal. I don’t think she believed me that there were fish down there, because she couldn’t SEE them (like in her fish tank)……
Here is a photo after a successful day of crabbing also…..