Big Water Fish – DeVar’s Tale

About this time of year, we wander the alleys and aisles of the regional sportsman shows immersed in offers of hunting and fishing trips we have long dreamed of taking. Those outdoor opportunities and fantasies await only our decision to go (and maybe a buck or two). As we feel spring rising before us, we particularly think about fishing. Thus, now, we begin seriously planning our ocean halibut and bottom fish adventures, and spring trips for the salmon heading up our rivers.

DeVar Gleed offers a look into one of those springtime ocean fishing trips – a trip with his buddy Gary and Gary’s brother-in-law Captain Roy – and takes the reader along. The judges were pretty sure you would enjoy his entry into this year’s Inside the Outdoors Writing Contest.

“I hadn’t been saltwater fishing for three years, so I was super excited when my buddy Gary called and asked if I could go fishing. Captain Roy had called him and said, ‘If the weather holds I’m going after halibut and rockfish and have room for two.’ He wouldn’t know until a few days before, to make sure conditions are right. Captain Roy’s a true saltwater captain – made from the same cloth of Captain Rob who Jim Huckabay wrote about back in 2013. The stars aligned – the call came – and off we went!

“The trip from Ellensburg to the fertile waters off La Push, Washington, (out on the far west side of the Olympic Peninsula) wasn’t a short one. We left shortly after work at 7pm, drove over Snoqualmie pass, through Seattle, rode across on the ferry, and drove around Crescent Lake to the mysterious town of Forks.

“The plan was to park and sleep until 4am. Unfortunately, we woke Captain Roy up when we arrived. He couldn’t get back to sleep…so two hours later we were on our way to the docks. We stopped to gas up at the all night mini-mart. This was a true fisherman’s mini-mart: Fried foods piled high for customers…at 3am! (They’d be sold out by sunrise.) We were one of the first on the water. Now this is the most important lesson I’ve learned when going saltwater fishing: take one Dramamine walking down the dock to the boat! Nothing ruins a great fishing trip more than sea sickness. (I speak from experience!)

“30 rough miles later we were fishing 800 foot water for highly coveted halibut. Going that far down you want to make sure that EVERYTHING is right. Your weight, bait, etc. This isn’t cast and retrieve fishing. When halibut fishing you discover long lost muscles in your arms and back.

“Okay, I know the Good Book says to not covet. But as rods and reels were being handed around Captain Roy’s looked suspiciously nicer than the rest of ours. I knew it was when he attached a cord to the battery. An electronic reel! My repentance process for breaking that great commandment still hasn’t happened. Wow – what a reel. He caught the first halibut and what a beauty (I mean the reel)! Sure, Captain Roy had to hold the rod and fight that fish – but the reel did half the work. It brought the fish in, fought it with a pre-set drag setting, take line in, let a little out, and so on. I’d never seen such a reel – and I coveted.

“We each caught a back-breaking halibut – what a prize! One of the best eating fish out there.

“We went after rockfish on our way back to La Push. Now, Captain Roy has a very nice fish finder – but I could not for the life of me tell how he knew where the fish were. The ocean floor topography looked the same to me wherever we were. But he’d yell ‘Put ‘em down!’ And we’d catch rockfish like mad! Two at a time. Then we’d drift off the bite. He’d go back to his chosen spot and yell again – and again we were on fish. We came in with limits of halibut and rockfish.

“Back at camp Captain Roy taught us all how to fillet halibut.

“A good night’s sleep in Gary’s tent that rivaled the Taj Mahal was what I needed – even if it was only four hours of shut eye. 4am we were on the water again for another glorious round of saltwater fishing. The whales, pod of dolphins, sunfish and albatross are always a bonus.

“I’m grateful for good friends, captains crazy enough to go 30+ miles into the ocean, and the bounty we enjoy in the beautiful waters of Washington State.” DeVar Gleed

And here’s to each of us enjoying our own unique and joyful outdoor adventure in the months ahead.

So, what really lies ahead for us and our fishing, hunting and shooting outdoor lives? I have been picking the brains of several gurus from the season’s regional and national sportsman shows – folks who spend their time and money looking beyond today. The changes coming in our outdoor play will not necessarily be bad or too difficult to manage, but they are significant. I figure you and your family would like to know what this 21st Century is bringing, too, so next week I will pass along what I have learned. Stand by…

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized