Eliza’s brother offered to take us fishing on his boat, a small ski boat, at Newport, Oregon. I was a little hesitant about going out on the ocean, but I overcame this and accepted. For some reason we didn’t go to bed the night before until after midnight, but at 3:15 a.m. I was wide awake before the alarm and was busy making coffee, egg sandwiches, and packing the truck with our fishing gear.
We drove south to Albany, met up with Charlie, and then took off for the coast where we put in the water at Newport Bay and headed out past the jetty. Some guys in another boat said that we’d have luck if we went a half mile out past the shore.
The waves were not too bad, but we decided to come back into the harbor after a while. We, and everyone else we could see on nearby boats, were having no luck. It is a big ocean, yet fishermen all congregate together, watching each other like jealous cats getting affection, and if one of them pulls in a fish, the rest come swooping down with their boats to likewise reel some in.
Inside the channel of the jetty we were bobbing along, fishing near the rocks, and another boat had just passed by, asking us if we had caught anything. I had told them that we caught a mermaid and I pointed to Eliza. Not too much later, I felt the slightest pressure on the line (I was holding the line in my left hand, feeling the bumps of the weighted bait along the bottom) and I reeled in the bait. It was the strangest fish I had ever pulled in, a rock fish. What the heck is a rock fish? It looked very strange to me, a southerner who was used to fishing swamp bottoms and flat rivers. Charlie and Eliza both worked on getting the fish off the hook for me while I took pics. Charlie left Eliza holding this very strange fish, and when she realized that she had sole possession of it, she squeeled and tossed it overboard. It was very amusing (we had no plans on keeping the odd fish).
Soon later we pulled up to dock and Charlie and I went into a tackle shop to ask what was biting, where, when, and what. We both brought back some baits, hooks, and sinkers, and were told to hit the rocks at the jetty around 4 pm. We had a few hours to kill, so we took the boat upriver a bit to a wooden boat junkyard.
We pulled the boat up to shore, hooked a rope on a rock, and passed out beer to each other (Rogue Dead Guy Ale). Eliza and Charlie went exploring while I grabbed another rod and reel with a smaller bait and went to try my luck off of the bank. After thirty minutes of fighting the wind and current and having zero luck, I went to Eliza and Charlie and explorered the husks of wooden boats in the junkyard.
We went back to the boat, it had been no more than forty minutes or so and we were talking, when I noticed the boat. The tide had gone down and the boat was nearly out of the water. It was both funny and not funny at the same time. We took some pictures of each other pulling on the boat with a beer in our hands, and then we worked to free to boat. The bow (front) of the boat wasn’t too hard to handle, but the aft of the boat was harder, it was down in the mud and was going nowhere. It was 55 degrees outside and nobody wanted to get wet. After many vain attempts to push it out, I finally had enough and waded in and
pushed it, sinking down in the mud as I did so. The harder I pushed, the more I sank into the mud. But I finally got it out a little into deeper water. We all hopped aboard and readied to take off, but it wasn’t quite deep enough yet. So again I hopped out, now up to my butt in water, and pushed it. I was pooped and collapsed on the sun deck of the boat to catch my breath. But we were free. Across the small pocket of water were six commercial fishing vessles in dock, and we could imagine the crews laughing their asses off at us crazy people.
After a while of drifting around the river, we headed back out toward sea and the rock jetty to try out the new baits we had bought. We fished for a little while (no luck) until we were running on fumes and had to pull in . Once we did that we decided to drive down to the rock jetty and fish from the rocks.
While fishing from the rocks I tried to move to a better spot to fish from. I hadn’t worn the particular hiking boots I had on (I left the wet shoes in the truck) and had forgotten why I hated them. You see, the boots were cheap boots, about $20 or so and the quality was lacking in the tread of the boot. They are knobby and have big tread on them, but looks are decieving. They have all the grip of a piece of hard plastic (that is what they are) as I’ve found out while fly fishing on remote mountain streams and have almost lost my balance and fallen on slippery rocks. Well, this time there was no “almost” to it, I did fall and down the big rocks I went, SPLASH, into the cold water. I was wearing four layers of shirts and a gortex jacket and it filled with water immediately. I could feel the current, and the waves at the same time. I did not like my predicament, funny as it was, and I scrambled to get out.
I took off most of my shirts, leaving only an Under Armor long sleeve shirt on and my soaking wet cargo shorts. I fished for a little while longer until the wind got to me and I was getting cold. So I headed to the truck, turned on the engine and heater, and took an hour nap while Eliza and Charlie fished a little longer. Eliza had caught a fish and was excited, but threw it back as it was a small rock rish like mine.
Then we went to a Chinese restaurant and ate (I still in soaking wet shoes and shorts and damp shirt and freezing) and then we drove home to Portland.
I can’t wait to go fishing again. In fact, right now I am posting a map of the Columbia River Gorge area and Oregon on my wall and am looking through fishing news magazines and websites and noting spots to go.