The phone call was equal parts welcome and unexpected.
“Hey Jordan, this is Nick Young. I’ve seen your columns, and I wondered if you’d want to go fishing?”
Done and done, my man!
Nick needed no introduction. He is one of the best anglers in our region, with a long list of tournament successes on the FLW Costa Tour, the Wild West Bass Trail and WON BASS Open events. The Dobyns Rods and Strike King Tackle-sponsored pro — is also a licensed guide on the Owyhee Reservoir.
It was still dark when I met Nick in eastern Oregon. But his excitement shined through the gloom.
“Are you ready to catch some bug-eyed giants?” Nick asked.
As we launched at Owyhee, Nick explained our plan of attack — the lake level was dropping, so we would target bass holding in deeper water offshore.
We pulled up to our first spot and began flinging jigs, soft plastics and spinnerbaits. Not much was happening, but Nick wanted to stick with it.
“There’s monsters here,” he said. “Give it 10 more minutes.”
I tied on my favorite plastic worm. Nick nodded his approval as I tossed it into the depths.
Fish on. My rod doubled over as my line began racing toward the surface. The fish jumped once, but she stayed on and we soon boated a huge smallmouth bass — the biggest I’ve caught all season.
“Owyhee giants!” Nick hollered. “I love it.”
We proceeded to zoom around the expansive lake, using Nick’s electronics to locate underwater cover. We settled into a groove using finesse plastic lures, though the bite was barely detectable.
“The fish aren’t active today,” Nick said as he unhooked and released a respectable largemouth. “Most people would probably give up and go home.”
We pressed on. At our third stop, Nick hooked a huge bass. He fought it for several minutes, but it jumped near the boat and spat the hook. Nick has caught more lunkers than 99 percent of anglers out there, but losing one still hurt.
“You never get tired of catching the big ones,” he said. “But you never get used to losing them, either.”
Usually when I fish with people, I’m the more experienced angler. It was fun to switch roles, with Nick showing me a few of his tried-and-true strategies. They worked, too — on what could easily have been a slow day, we put 30 fish in the boat.
“Every angler is your teacher,” Nick said. “I’ve learned things by watching little kids fish from the dock. Everyone has something to offer.”
Amen to that.
Around lunchtime, I set the hook on something solid. Right away, Nick knew it was big.
“Giant, buddy, giant!” he yelled. “Let’s see her.”
The pro’s instincts were spot-on — we netted a gorgeous, 20-inch largemouth that topped 5 pounds. It was the best fish of the day, and my biggest bass of 2018. But the fun wasn’t over yet.
By the afternoon, I was feeling really comfortable using Nick’s gear and methods. As we pulled up to a new spot, I launched a long cast into some prime-looking water.
“That’s money,” I predicted. “I’ve got a good vibe about it.”
Sure enough, a huge largemouth slurped my lure. After a big, head-shaking jump and a spirited fight, we admired an 18-inch specimen with a basketball for a belly and a crappie tail sticking out its throat.
“I love fishing so much,” Nick said aloud. “I could seriously do this all day and be just as excited to come back and do it tomorrow.”
Amen to that, too.
My adventure with the bass pro was one to remember — and something tells me it won’t be our last.