I turned 30 earlier this year, and I’m starting to realize that the older you get, the harder it is to be surprised.
Most weeks go by pretty much according to script. Go to work. Cook meals. Clean the house. Mow the lawn. Carve out some time for an occasional BBQ or softball game with friends. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Going fishing, however, is a surefire way to bust up your weekly monotony.
Any fishing trip — whether it’s a weekend adventure at your favorite camping spot or a two-hour jaunt to a neighborhood pond — holds untold possibilities. Your next day on the water could yield the fish of a lifetime. Or a species you’ve never seen before. Heck, you might even get skunked, but the point is, you don’t know. And the mystery of not knowing is a rare and beautiful thing.
I could fill an entire newspaper with fishing stories that made me say, “Man, I’ve never seen that before.”
Once, on the Snake River, my buddy Davey hooked into a smallmouth bass. It seemed like a smaller fish, but suddenly, it started fighting like crazy. He wrestled it to the bank, and there was a feisty mink hanging on to the fish with both hands. The sleek little guy ripped the fish away, luckily pulling it free of the hook. He stood tall with the fish in his mouth, looked at us for a moment, and then dashed away down the shoreline to enjoy his lunch.
Another critter got grabby last summer at an alpine lake near Cascade. I was throwing a small spinner for cutthroat trout, but my retrieve kept getting caught up in some lily pads — or so I thought. As I brought the lure closer, I could see something attacking it. It was a frog! I watched, astonished, as he grabbed the lure with both hands and tried to stuff it in his mouth. The hook was still free, so I yanked the lure away before he could impale himself. If only trout were always so eager to devour a spinning hunk of metal!
Just a couple weeks ago, my buddy Caleb and I hit Lake Lowell for an after-work trip. We were catching some nice bass back in the flooded trees on our go-to plastic worms. We already had a few nice fish under our belts when BOOM! Fish on! And this was a whopper!
I was ready to battle one of the biggest bass of my life, but Caleb killed the suspense with some expert underwater ID work.
“I saw him roll,” he hollered from his perch at the bow. “I’m pretty sure it’s a cat.”
Sure enough, after a good fight, we hauled a 24-inch channel catfish into the boat. I’ve caught cats on worms, crankbaits and cut bait, but never on a soft plastic bass lure. I thought maybe I’d snagged him, but the corner-of-the-mouth hookset confirmed a clean take.
“Well, I’ve never seen that before,” I said, as Caleb nodded in agreement.
And that is the beauty of fishing.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.