Since the tires on the Duramax are ready for some new skins and the roads haven't been cooperating lately, we've spent the last couple weekends taking the downhill turn out of the driveway and chasing bulls at LBC. We've had some great success already only a couple weeks into the new year, but since the most recent storms hit the North harder than normal and with the sun finally clearing the typically snowy roads to Crescent we decided to hit the road a little earlier and make the 90min venture with the kids to Crescent instead. We brought in the rods to re-rig for Macks and to thaw out inside the house overnight. The weather forecast was calling for single digit temps in Bend overnight which means down south we knew we'd be facing negative temps. Touched base with Joe (fish-on-Bend) one last time before setting the alarm for 430 and getting the kiddos to bed early. Got the boat loaded and truck warmed up and the temp gauge in the boat showed a balmy 7 degrees.
On the way out the temps began to rapidly fall and was already 0 by the South end of Bend. As we reached LaPine it was -12 and when we made the turn onto the Crescent Cutoff it finally bottomed out at -19.
Arriving at the lake, Joe was ('patiently') waiting for some of the folks in the cabins to make room for him to squeeze down the ramp. We jumped out and helped spot for him as he maneuvered through a couple loaded trailers and between the cars of some surprised winter snow enthusiasts. The fog had rolled onto the lake causing it to warm up to -2 and Joe was able to plow through 6 or 7 inches of crunchy snow and slide his boat into the water.
He was just getting underway as my boat slid off the trailer and after 5 or 6 runs at the hill where I had an audience of onlookers, I was finally able to get parked knowing that climbing back out with the boat loaded was probably going to be a challenge.
With the heater lit and the kiddos ready we headed out into the dense fog not knowing where Joe was, but hoping we chose the right direction so we didn't end up on top of him. Without gps, we probably would've been stuck waiting for some clearing, but knowing the lake and where we wanted to be, we went for it. Got the lines into the 35 degree water and we were on our way.
This is when it was finally starting to clear enough to get a few pictures. A beautiful start to the day.
Sun breaking through.
Panographic picture of the fog still hanging (I think Joe was stuck in that still!) --> Maybe that's all from his pipe??
And then the sun broke out.
Ooops... Forgot about the (formerly liquid) joy...
We started marking some fish towards the end of our first pass.
And then less than 5 minutes after the rod popped loose from the rigger and immediately dove towards the water.
The captain grabbed the rod and even borrowed my 'fishy' gloves to keep her fingers thawed out... I slowed the boat to an idle and our 12 year old daughter grabbed the captains seat to keep us on track and the fight was on.
She mentioned this one feels more like a Bull. For those of you who've chased Macks and Bulls you'll know what she means. Normally you don't feel all the head shakes, yet more of the power and weight dragging you back to the deeps of the lake where they want to stay...
She worked on him for about 25-30 minutes as he took run after run back into the depths. He finally began to tire and Kasey made some good progress on him and then we finally spotted him 25-30yds behind the boat in the crystal clear water. As he got closer, I could see one of the hooks had swung around and as he continued towards the boat I could see puffs of red every time his heart pumped. It's always a great feeling when you get the first glimpse of a trophy like him, but I was bummed knowing he most likely wasn't going to make it back into the water successfully. Testing the limits of my rubber net, I managed to get him into the bucket and hoisted him into the boat. Got the hooks out got a quick measurement and a weight.... I have a 36" stick on the side of the boat and he was well past the end and weighed in a touch over 26lbs.. A new boat record!
On a fish that's going to be released we never risk taking any sort of vertical hanging picture, but since his injuries weren't going to allow him to swim away we cleaned him up and snapped this picture to show his amazing girth.
I attempted to slide him into the livewell and get him some water to keep him clean and cold, but realized the water still hadn't thawed in the lines yet. So, we got all cleaned back up and got the line back in the water looking for more takers. We continued to mark a few fish, but didn't have any more bumps and as lunch time approached the kids mentioned they were hungry and since they'd been good we decided to hit the Resort to catch some of the game and enjoy some lunch and a beverage.
After lunch we let the other boat that had shown up load up and get up the hill and then it was our turn. Just as we got hooked up, luckily for us Joe pulled in and after several attempts to haul the boat up the icy hill he unloaded his trailer and was able to give me an assist up the hill. (Thanks again Joe!)
Once we were home we decided to get some good pictures and measurements in case the captain decides she wants to get a mount done on her trophy. Length 40", weight 26lbs, and max girth at 25"
After opening it up, we realized how these amazing predators get so large! That's a fat 16" bait fish in his stomach.
Another great time on the water was had by all, and looking forward to getting back out and doing it all over again. Maybe next time with some new tires though!!