Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to spend the day fishing from a pontoon boat for cutthroat trout at Walker Lake.
In doing so, I spent the day with my usual fishing partners, Norm Budden (the owner of the pontoon boat) and Bob "Slick" McCulloch, both retired and from Carson City.
We were joined by another longtime friend, Don Hettrick, also of Carson City.
The three of them had just returned from an extended pheasant hunting trip near Mott, N.D.
Being sneaky, I thought that if I were to accompany them on one of their usual inept and unproductive fishing trips, I just might be able to con one or more of them into giving me a pheasant. My plan worked to perfection. All three of them promised me a pheasant.
That was great - I got three pheasants from three pigeons!
However, I also had a premonition that Thursday was not going to be a good fishing day. As it turned out, my instincts were absolutely correct.
We were to meet at Budden's house at the ghastly hour of 5 a.m.
Whenever we go fishing, he always tells me to bring doughnuts. I love to bug him by buying day-old doughnuts and then listening to him complain.
However, this time I decided to surprise him. So on the way to his house, I stopped at a bakery and bought a dozen, assorted, freshly-baked doughnuts.
However I miscalculated my arrival time and instead of arriving at 5 a.m., I was knocking on his door at 4:40. That generated some very nasty language until I produced the doughnuts. It is amazing how quickly someone gets quiet when they are busy stuffing their mouth with doughnuts. His quiet was heavenly.
When he finished, we loaded all of our fishing gear, lunches and extra coats into his truck. McCulloch and Hettrick arrived about 15 minutes later.
As we got ready to leave, Budden checked his truck and the trailer. That was when he discovered that the trailer lights did not work. After a considerable delay, we decided to chance it and to have McCulloch convey behind us all the way to Walker Lake.
I told Budden that this was an ominous start and didn't like it.
I voted to stay home.
He snarled, called me dirty names, said some filthy things, told me to shut up and we were off on our trip.
As it turned out, the trailer lights had a short. Every time we hit a bump or went around a corner, they went off and on just like those blinking Christmas tree decorations. They really looked cool.
We arrived at the boat ramp at about 7:30 a.m.
The lake did not look good because of a stiff breeze and white caps.
I voted to go back home.
The other three snarled, called me dirty names, said some filthy things, told me to shut up and we quickly launched the pontoon boat.
I wanted to fish at the south end of "The Cliffs." That was the area where the local fishing reports indicated that the trollers were catching most of the larger-sized cutthroat trout.
I voted for the cliffs.
The other three snarled, called me dirty names, said some filthy things, told me to shut up and we headed for Sand Point in the opposite direction.
I told them that we were not going to catch many fish for the day because fishing off the pontoon boat without downriggers was like fishing from a pool table.
I voted to go home.
The other three snarled, called me dirty names, said some filthy things, told me to shut up and to begin fishing.
As we began to fish, I proposed that we bet on the first fish, biggest fish and the most fish of the day.
The other three snarled, called me dirty names, said some filthy things and said that they would not bet because I was too lucky to suit them.
They were partly correct.
I caught the first fish of the day. But, overall, the fishing was absolutely pitiful. Between the four of us we only caught five fish for the entire day.
If they had made the bets, Hettrick would have won twice.
He caught the largest cutthroat (5.1 pounds) and the most (2).
With those two exceptions, the "three amigos" were unproductive trout fishermen as usual. Budden and McCulloch each caught only one small trout.
From a personal point of view,here were the day's highlights for each of those three losers:
- Budden: Just for fun, I would occasionally let my fishing line drift across his and cause a tangle. He would snarl, call me dirty names, say some filthy things, untangle the two lines and threaten to throw me out of the boat.
- Hettrick: Listening to him yelp loudly with excitement when I would reach out and tug on his fishing line. He wouldn't see me do it, think he had a strike and get excited every time. He is so easy to fool, he isn't even a challenge.
- McCulloch: Watching him fall asleep in the hot sunshine. His head bobbed back and forth like those little plastic birds that people used to put in the back windows of their cars. Remember how the little bird would dip its head in and out of that cup? He looked just like one of them. It was a wonder that he didn't break his dumb neck.
Finally, after hours of fruitless trolling in the Sand Point area from that miserable, floating, pool table, I suggested that we call it a day and head for home.
The other three snarled, called me some dirty names, said some very filthy things and thought that was a great idea.
We went home.
- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you the weight of the largest Walker Lake cutthroat trout submitted so far this year in the derby at the Gun and Tackle Store in Hawthorne.
If he responds, "The leading fish is a 8.5 pounder caught in early September by an angler from Stagecoach," he might also be entered in that same derby.