Thought five-thirty was a little late to go fishing, but Howard explained it was a.m., not p.m.
So, OK. The next morning we met Steve August and headed for the lake. Howard explained on the way that this was a perfect day for fishing. Howard knows all this stuff. He explained that he had checked the moon setting, the fishing reports, the wind and the water temperature. Found that they had deposited several million trout, salmon, steelhead, stripers and other things in the reservoir two days earlier and today the fish would be hungry and ready for a fight. Sounded good. Exciting.
Got to the locked gate about six and found it still locked. Sign said they open at seven starting in September. “Didn’t check that,” said Howard. Sat there, just off Vasco, for an hour talking with other guys who told of great catches the day before.
At seven we went to the fish place to get our reserved boat and were told that the wind was too strong and that we could get our boat by ten.
At ten-thirty the boat was ready, the wind was ready and so were we. Steve hauled down his seven tackle boxes, two down riggers, six poles, his newly bought depth and fish finder and a case of beer. Impressive. These guys knew how to fish. I had a small Safeway bag with some worms.
They also know where to fish. Howard said so. “The big ones are over there by the rock wall … or sometimes down the way by where the flooded trees are … sometimes over by the point. Today,” Howard spoke, “will be fantastic. Sometimes I just have this feeling.”
We began with lures. Steve had a beer. We trolled over to the rock wall and slowly slid by. “They are right here,” Steve said, looking into his fish finder and checking the water depth and temperature. “Right below us at 13-feet, 2-inches, they’re looking up at us with their mouths open.” After 40 minutes of moseying back and forth Howard said to switch to spinners. “Spinners work best when the temperature is 62 degrees.” For an hour we trolled with spinners. Steve had his third beer.
Howard said, “Maybe over by the old barn.”
Steve said, “Maybe down by the dam.”
We fished the old barn and we fished down by the dam and we fished up there by the narrow point and we fished around the boathouse and up at the lake-end. We fished with spinners, broken-backs, silver and gold things, power bait, worms and some secret plastic things. We trolled, slowly, we trolled quickly, we still-fished, we cast. We fished high, we fished low. Steve even poured a little (very little) beer into the lake. “For luck,” he said.
Not a nibble. Not a bite. No strikes. No fish!
We were told when we brought the boat back about two that the little kids who had been there in the morning had limited out and gone home three hours ago. Steve asked what kind of downrigger they used. “Naw,” said the storekeeper, “had a bamboo pole with a paper clip for a hook and fished from the shore.”
Howard was pretty quiet on the way home. Seemed deep in thought. Pondering something important. He finally spoke up as we turned into the parking lot. “It’s important, Bill …” he stated, “that other guys don’t know about this. Everyone thinks that I’m a great fisherman and if they knew we got skunked … well, it wouldn’t be good. Promise now … you won’t tell anyone.”