Crazy things just occur sometimes when out fishing. I’m not talking about all the stupid things I’ve done, but rather the unplanned and spontaneous weird stuff that just happens because you’re out there where life isn’t so controlled.
Here are a couple of encounters I believe belong in the lifetime achievement category for “crazy” situations. I’m sure you have your own, too!
▪ We were striper fishing in the river at Millerton about 15 years ago in high water when I heard a funny sound from upriver in the tight canyon. Watching for whatever it was, I spotted an unusually shaped white thing the size of a pot floating with the current. I told my Dad there was something very weird moving toward us when suddenly it blurted out a strange noise! As it came closer, I was shocked to see a huge, full grown, but mostly submerged, sheep with just its eyeballs and nose out of the water – trying to stay afloat. Where the heck did it come from?
We quickly decided that I would grab hold of the back of the sheep to hold its head up and we would move the boat toward shore with the sheep in tow. It took 10 minutes for us to find a good, shallow area as I leaned over the side. Waterlogged, it weighed a ton, but we finally positioned the sheep where it could walk out of the water and up the bank. Victory!
Incredibly, we watched the animal saunter about 10 feet up the bank, stop, then lower its head and graze the first grass on the shore as if nothing had happened. Boy, some gratitude! It hadn’t even looked back at us or even bleated a thank you for a great rescue. We left it mowing the shore grass where it stood. Oh well!
▪ In another situation I was downrigging a lure about 80 feet out in the middle of Portuguese Cove in the back of San Luis Reservoir for stripers. Fishing had been good, so when the pole bent over backward I was sure that this was “the one!” I was ready! The first run was epic as the fish took off on a good 50-yard spurt before I put some muscle into it and gained a little line back. Whoa! This had to be 30-plus pounds – and beyond!
For the next 15 minutes, it was a back and forth battle with the biggest thing I had encountered at San Luis. Then it dawned on me: This fish was way too methodical and it wasn’t coming in. There were no other boats, so I couldn’t have snagged any of their lines, could I? Looking around, the nearest point was well in excess of 200 yards away, but I could barely see a guy with a huge 11-foot pole. Maybe? I jerked with all my strength to test my theory and I saw him react and yell. Several other anglers were scurrying toward him now!
I backed the boat up and I could see that he thought the “fish” was running toward him, as he yelled again. I was laughing! Surrounded by a crowd of buddies, he couldn’t hear me. So when I got about 150 yards away I gave the rod a few more really big jerks, setting the whole shore crowd on fire. I was almost falling down I was laughing so hard! I figured I would give him a good fight until I got in yelling range. I was sure he would have done no less for me!
He finally figured it out, and that’s when his buddies started mercilessly harassing him about the “monster” fish. They had used their boat to set the braided line and bait out a good hundred-plus yards! Funny, if either of our lines had broken, we both would have had an epic “one that got away” fish story – one we would have taken to our graves! Crazy? Yes! I love a fishing life! Never give up!
Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,