About Bob Zimmerman - Fishing
Dad always loved fishing and always had a great deal of fishing gear. We had salt-water poles and reels, fresh-water rods and reels, and even some fly-fishing equipment.
And, of course, we had boats. The boat I remember best was the one Ron and I made from scratch from a kit. We bought the lumber and supplies and spent several weeks cutting everything to size and putting it together. I remember forming the plywood to the bottom of the boat and how excited we were as the boat took shape. We then mixed up and applied fiberglass to it to make it strong and water tight. There was a lot of hand-work involved, especially in sanding everything. And the most fun was painting it. I think we painted it green--a good color that wouldn't frighten fish as they were brought to the boat!
Perhaps this also led to our interest in making fishing tackle and ordering tons of items from the Herter's catalogs. For some reason, dad had several coffee-cans of shiny gold and silver spinners. These are the kind of spinners that can be found on "pop-gear" lures. I was always fascinated by them. I'd take the metal polish and shine them up to see the neat reflection. Of course the Herter's catalogs had such appealing descriptions that we couldn't resist ordering all of those "sure thing" lures that would catch us those lunker fish. I saved one copy of a Herter's catalog, and here's one description:
Herter's Moselle Lure
"The blades on this famous lure rotate in opposite directions and prevent line twist. This lure like the famous Alsacien was originated in Alsace Lorraine. The front blade is silver plated and the rear blade gold plated. Both blades spin with a breath in a slow fluttering fashion. The body is solid marine brass with two red fluttering thin blades on both sides. This lure is expensive to make and has been copied in cheap versions without the fluttering spinner blades and the gold and silver plated blades. The imitations just do not work. For the man who makes a study of fishing this lure is a must. It is a sure killer. This is the lure that caught the European all time record brown trout. Order out one and try it for one month; return within one month for a full refund plus transportation charges it it does not produce large fish for you."
We ended up filling our tackle boxes with all kinds of lures and gear. I remember one lure that was supposed to release an ultra-sonic sound as it was pulled through the water. Needless to say, I couldn't hear anything, and I never remember catching any fish using it. Perhaps the fish couldn't hear anything either. Or, if they did, it was the wrong tune! I think I lost that lure when it caught on some bottom vegetation in Keevee's lake.
It was fun putting together the lures, though. We bought a lot of hooks and lure bodies. One that WAS effective consisted of a spinner with red fluorescent beads as a body attached to a treble hook. Attached and following this was a minnow lure with a treble hook. Essentially this was two lures in one. As the Herter's catalog describes it:
"This is one of the most deadly fishing lures ever made and was a long time in developing and testing. Berthe E. Herter watched Belgian and Scandinavian commercial fishermen "pilken" for salt water fish. It is the most deadly means of taking fish known. They troll or jig with from two to three lures on the same leader. The fish sees one fish chasing the other and strikes out of jealousy whether hungry or not. Berthe tried using three lures on a leader trolling for walleyed pike and muskies. It took as many fish as your cared to take even when they were not biting well. More than one lure on a line, however, is illegal in most states. The next development was to develop a lure that looked like a fish chasing another one but that was actually one one lure so that it would be legal in all states. It also had to be make so that it would not tangle when cast and it also must troll perfectly. The now famous Tiger Tail was the result. This lure is so effective that you have to use it to believe how it murders fish. The first day it was used on Wisconsin muskies it took eleven record size fish. On northern pike in one test day in Minnesota it took 44 good sized fish. On Texas bass on the first day's test it boated 23 real keepers. On Sea trout it boated one hundred and eleven fish on the first day's test."
I remember using one of these lures while fishing in the Pot Hole Reservoir near O'Sullivan Dam. I was casting out from shore and reeling the lure slowly back. All of a sudden I felt a sharp pull on the line and a HUGE rainbow trout jumped out of the water shaking the lure. I tried to play the fish for some time but the next time it jumped it threw the lure and got away. Needless to say my adrenaline level was at the max and it took a long time to settle down. I kept fishing for several hours trying to get the fish again, but with no luck. However, the lure was effective on trout as well as with pan fish. I caught a number of nice fish on the lure and I tend to believe the description in the Herter's catalog.
One of the favorite lures that we put together was "pop gear." This consisted of two or three flat spinner blades to which can be attached a snelled hook and bait. Often we would go to the Pot Holes Reservoir in Eastern Washington. These lakes contained thousands of good-sized trout and pan fish. On one trip, we took our boat and anchored it in the current that came from seepage from O'Sullivan Dam. We would attach a worm behind the lure and troll it in the current. There were so many twelve to fourteen inch trout in the lake that often we would be bringing in several fish at the same time!
When we tired of that, we would row out near the center of one of the lakes. By using a jig, we would find out where the Perch were. Once found, we brought in several buckets of good-sized fish. Often we caught so many fish that we couldn't use all of them. Sometimes we resorted to freezing them. At other times we could make them into cat food for our pets. If our freezer unexpectedly thawed, we ended up with tons of fish fertilizer for our garden!
Many of our vacations and trips were to places where fishing was good. As a result, we were so spoiled by good fishing that many times we wouldn't be persistent if we weren't catching fish all the time. On one trip to Canada we went to Loon Lake. There were so many fish that they were continually jumping out of the water! We'd go trolling and catch so many fish that we had to set up an elaborate system for smoking them over our campfire. We used green alder and made special racks so that we could smoke many fish at a time. It was so easy to catch the fish that Ron and I got tired of catching them. Dad couldn't even talk us into going out in the boat. It was too much trouble to take them off the hook!
We didn't go saltwater fishing as much, but when we did it was fishing for bottom fish rather than Salmon. On one trip I remember we went to Neah Bay and rented a boat. Dad had a 15 horsepower Evenrude outboard motor, and we would head out to catch flounder, sea bass, rock cod and Red Snapper. We used the saltwater fishing gear, which consisted of special reels with green, high test line. We would attach pieces of clam necks or herring and lower the lines to the bottom. One time I remember feeling a sharp tug and then not being able to pull in the line. We think that maybe we had hooked a huge halibut that simply headed for the bottom and stayed there. We simply had to cut the line to continue fishing.
At times we would catch weird fish called "Rat Fish." These fish had heads that looked like a rat, and even had funny-shaped rat-like tails and fins shaped like paws. It gave me an erie feeling to pull in one of these fish.
Another memorable saltwater fishing trip was when we took our boat out to Deception Pass. There is good bottom fishing in this area, but the problem is with the strong tidal currents. We did OK negotiating the currents, but what we didn't know was that there were "Black Fish" in the area, better known as Killer Whales. We spotted three Black Fish. They kept surfacing near us, and we were afraid that they might come up right under the boat, causing it to capsize. This rather un-nerved us, so we headed toward a nearby seaweed bed to wait until they cleared out of the area. What we didn't know was that these animals often frequent the seaweed beds looking for quick meals of the bottom fish there. We were anchored right in the area that they preferred to frequent! Fortunately, after a while they left, but we then couldn't even get a bite. They had scared away all the bottom fish! We decided to head home early that day, feeling lucky that we remained unharmed.
A favorite destination for our vacations was to the ocean at Tokeland. Some of the most memorable times were when we rented a beach cabin. The cabin was right on the beach and allowed us to go beach-combing with ease. This is an exceptional area because there is a large expanse of tidal flats to roam and search when the tide is out. And, because of the tide flats, the water is warm and shallow when the tide comes in. When the tide is out, there are numerous small streams and pools to wade across and explore. These streams and pools contain a number of tiny fish that are fun to chase. One time, we walked out onto the tide flats and came upon a deep tidal pool surrounded by the sand dunes. We dove into the pool and found cockles at the bottom. It was wonderful!
When hiking out on the tide flats, it's fun to explore the different areas. Sometimes the sand is hard and rippled. In other places the sand is muddy. We would sink in up to our knees at times! And, in other areas, the sand was full of holes inhabited by sand shrimp and sea worms. We would take our shovels and buckets out and dig large holes, collecting hundreds of sand shrimp and foot-long worms. We would have to be careful of the worms because they could give a painful bite!
However, the sand shrimp and worms were excellent fishing bait. We fished at the docks at Toke Point. The attraction here was that we could fish for Sea Perch, while at the same time set traps to catch Dungeness crab. If we caught a bull-head, we would save it and use it to bait the crab traps. The crab traps were simple wire traps that were hinged on four sides. When lowered into the water they would unfold when they hit the bottom. The bait attracted the local crab population. Periodically, we would pull up the traps. When pulled, the trap would close and hold in any crabs that were feeding on the bait. If the crab was a male, six inches or larger, we would save it for a feast later on in the evening. The little ones and the females would be thrown back.
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