What would constitute the perfect fishing trip?
With the increasing popularity of fantasy football, I got to thinking, “Why not fantasy fishing? Or better yet – why not a fantasy fishing trip?”
I’ve had many fantastic fishing trips in my outdoor career, including a few to Alaska and many on Oregon’s rivers and lakes, but on any outing there’s always room for improvement – more fish, bigger fish, fewer mosquitoes, less rain, better guides and no incomprehensible regulations to name a few.
So my perfect fantasy fishing trip would go something like this:
The alarm goes off at 8 a.m. and I am so fully awake and rested that no coffee is needed. My friend, who is also the area’s best fishing guide, picks me up at exactly 9 a.m. Behind his truck is a brand new bass boat. He also has brand new rods and other gear, plus he’s providing lunch today. I grab my camera and jump in the truck.
There’s not a cloud in the sky as we drive to the lake. When we arrive at the boat ramp, there’s not another boat in sight and the water is smooth as glass, reflecting the volcanic peaks like a giant mirror. The cool, still mid-morning warms to t-shirt weather as we make our way to the guide’s favorite cove.
As we drop anchor, the fish finder’s screen is crowded with fish. One of the toughest fish to catch is most often the first one. I’ve had days where the first one and the last one were the same fish. I usually almost catch my limit. However, my limit is one fish on most days. I’m not one for small talk, especially when it comes to talking about my normal daily catch. But today will be different.
This particular lake has a variety of fish including largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, kokanee and crappie. Special regulations on the lake include no limit on size or number of fish. Fantasy Lake is the only one where you don’t need to bring along your outdoor attorney to translate the fishing regulations.
I cast out my kokanee jig and let it settle near the bottom. Before the line is straight down I get a bite and bring in a plump 15-inch kokanee. I repeat this process on five of the next ten casts – six “kokes” are enough for now. Time to find some crappie, which in my book are almost as good eating as kokanee.
My friend maneuvers us to another part of the lake as I start on my tasty lunch. When he reaches the next honey hole he lowers the anchor and brings out the lightweight crappie gear. Like a nest of hungry piranhas, these crappie attack my jig cast after cast. The average fish is around 12 inches, perfect for filleting. We stop when the cooler is full.
Catching crappie is fun but cleaning them can be a pain, especially the ones that are only 8 or 9 inches. A dozen fillets from those fish in the fry pan shrink up to barely make a meal for an anorexic Pygmy. Today’s catch, however, will provide plenty of nice fillets for the freezer. My friend the guide will fillet all the fish at the end of the day with his new electric knife.
It’s nice to use good fishing gear all day. On a few of my rods it’s only a matter of time, usually three or four casts, until I get a bird’s nest in the line that a golden eagle would be proud of. All the line on the day’s reels has zero memory (just like me) and is advertised to virtually eliminate line tangles.
Along a rocky shoreline we cast lures for smallmouth bass. These “weapons of bass destruction” – i.e. – lures with treble hooks – can catch fish but they can also catch you if you’re not careful. The guide takes all the fish off for me, so today at least, I avoid hook-in-hand or hook-in-nose disease.
After catching a few nice rainbows and browns I look at my watch and can’t believe the day is coming to an end. I also notice that my wrist is starting to get a wee bit sore from reeling in so many big fish. Okay, just one more fish I say as a beautiful sunset fills the western horizon. On most normal days of fishing the hardest fish to catch, besides the first one, is last one. I’ve spent many an outing in the dark after saying, “Just one more fish.”
There’s a big ‘ole log sticking into the water over a deep hole and I figure a bass might be hanging out there. It will take a perfect 50-foot cast to reach it. I fling the plastic worm and it lands about an inch from the log. I count to three and suddenly the line tightens and the rod tip bends. I set the hook and bring the state record largemouth bass to the waiting net.