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Overheating and the sturgeon

Recently, Fishing Is Life (FIL) and I made arrangements to get up early and take the Willie up to the Wind River for some later season Chinook trolling. We had fished the Clack the evening before with Gas Jockey and had not done any good so the Wind trip, while a long jaunt compared to some available alternatives, seemed like as good a choice as any.

I should have figured the day was going to be auspicious when it was not until 10 minutes before leaving to the rendezvous point that I realized that James had said that we should meet at “Great American” the night before. I heard “Great American” but somehow imprinted “BC Angling” in my pea sized noggin.

So instead of just hopping across the river I suddenly realized I was to be meeting him 10 minutes further down the road somewhere in Clackamas that I had never actually been before. Not only that, when I called him on his cell he did not answer. Strange, he always answers his cell, I thought.

I arrived in Clackamas a few minutes late but found Great American without too much difficulty. After all, how big is Clackamas anyway? Off the freeway I had left, right or straight as choices and since right was closest it was the first choice.

Met James, who admitted it was lucky I found him since he had left his cell at home. I kidded him mercilessly as we headed up the freeway only to realize that I had forgotten to notice that my son had pretty well exhausted the fuel supply in the Tahoe. James, not wanting to experience the various methods of gas extraction out of the Willie while on the side of the Interstate, highly suggested a stop in Troutdale for some gas. Even though I insisted we were good to Cascade Locks, prudence took over for bravado and we did make the stop at the cheap but long line gas station. We were getting later by the moment.

But as we were pulling out of Troutdale, FIL casually mentioned that the way things were going it was lucky he hadn’t forgotten his Washington license. Washington license. Washington license. Washington license… Sorta like a character in some science fiction movie, I was suddenly transformed back to my bedroom where I was standing in front of my dresser looking at that blaze orange plastic license holder. The one containing my Washington license. But no matter how I willed my arms to pick it up, they wouldn’t move and the dang thing just sat there so tantalizing in front of me.

“ Hey Hogmaster, Gary, GARY!” yelled James. As I came to out of my self induced trance like state we were nearly off the I-84 bridge and into the Sandy. OOOOOOPS. I casually made an 8 wheel “S” drift and straightened us up before the passing 18 wheeler almost rolled over us.

“Ummm, FIL, I guess we need to stop in Stephenson to get me another license.” “OK, Hog”, said James. “Are you feeling alright? Do you want me to drive?”

Needless to say, by the time we got the late start, fuel at the crowded slow pump gas station, replacement license and the standard detours for construction, we arrived at the Wind somewhat later than expected.

We had both checked various prognostications for the wind report on the Wind, and they varied from NW 5-15, to West 10-20. Well guess which one was right?

By the time we launched the waves were chopping at about 2-3 feet and the wind was downright unpleasant if not plain ugly. It reminded me of trying to troll in front of Ilwaco on the first Saturday morning of Buoy 10 season in a gale. A true test of the Willie, I do have to say she tracked in the wind amazingly well, but this was not a particularly pleasurable experience. It might have been better except that none of the fools out battling wind and waves were landing fish. Or for that matter even hooking fish. Including us of course.

After about and hour and a half of this fun we had had enough. We worked our way around to the wind-sheltered cove where we considered bobber fishing. Except there was about 3 square feet left to park the boat in because all the other boaters had come to their wind blown senses prior to us. Motoring slowly by in the 2’ water (the only water left) we saw no evidence of anyone succeeding there either, so after a quick debate I convinced FIL that we were destined to head back to the Willamette to catch some fish close to home. Besides, it started to rain about then and that was the final omen.

So why the title to this story? We are about to get to that, honest.

We reloaded the boat on the trailer and headed back to the Bridge of the Gods. Let’s see, so far we had:
1) Started Late
2) Almost Ran out of gas and had to stop for it, consuming more time
3) Had to stop and buy another license to replace one at home
4) Fished ineffectively in horrible conditions
5) Had to pay two bridge tolls
6) Decided to go back and fish within a mile from home.

So far the morning was, shall we say, interesting. It was shortly after paying the second toll and heading down the road when the next event occurred. That is, I noticed a “Check Gauges” alert on the dash. And upon checking the gauges, I noticed the water temp gauge was pegged in the red. Not good. Now what???

I dutifully pulled over and checked under the hood. Hmmm… Water reservoir full. No steam out the radiator. Hoses looked good. Heck, even the engine felt relatively cool. So we climbed back in the cab and I made a couple of calls on the cell until I found a Chevy service department that was open. A conversation with the tech resulted in the standard guessing game of, “Well, sure, it could be a sensor, or the guage itself. Of course it could be the thermostat, which if it is and you choose to drive it, we will be happy to see you.” Decisions decisions.

I decided that we should sit it out on the off chance it wasn’t electronic. After 10 minutes or so we hit the road again and the gauge popped up quickly to the red again. Too quickly. We were close to Bonneville by that time, and so I decided it might be prudent to stop there to allow another cool down. FIL admitted upon questioning that he had never seen the big sturgeon in the Observation Pool, so I suggested since we weren’t going to be fishing anytime soon that we might as well be looking at some. He was game, so I pulled down the off ramp and to the newly placed security guard shack.

A rather large Security Guard walked up to the driver’s side window with a bit of a quizzical look. Don’t think he sees to many rigs pulling 22’ sleds coming into the lot. He volunteered that the Visitors Center was open to the right and the Hatchery to the left. It was then that, for some reason, I asked a question that he was clearly not prepared for.

“Hey, what’s the best thing to use for catching sturgeon in the pool?”

There was a lengthy pregnant pause as he looked at me and I looked at him. He was somewhat incredulous and I was doing my best at looking the part of the bumbling simpleton looking for some good advice look. In other words my normal pose. James, while out of my vision, I could sense was holding back a huge guffah.

Finally, he replied with, “YOU CAN’T FISH IN THE POOL”. “Really?” I answered in my best-confused whipped puppy reply. He just shook his head. I hear he was supposed to be asking us if we had any weapons of mass destruction but methinks he was so flustered he just waved us through the gate.

After a wrong turn and backing the rig around most of the Bonneville lot, we finally parked within his eyesight. He watched closely as I hopped momentarily into the boat and picked up one of the rods in the back. But I wasn’t going to press my luck so James and I made our way down the path without any gear and observed the huge sturgeon in the pool without molesting them. They are truly impressive and I highly recommend stopping and taking a look if you haven’t.

We got back in the Tahoe and thankfully the gauge behaved all the way back to Meldrum where we launched only to get thoroughly drenched from more rain sleet, hail and sideways rain. Heard it had been relatively nice there all morning prior to our arrival. And of course no fish were to be found there or up the Clack in the same holes I later found out produced Springers all morning. One of those days… :hoboy:

Oh, the Tahoe. A trip to the shop resulted in the diagnosis. Blown radiator! It was some sort of divine intervention that allowed us to get home without the engine blowing. Either that or the bug the security guard placed on the radiator acted as a good plug! :shocked:


2,246 Posts
Hey nice story Hogmaster. I never realized if i fished with you i would be part of the as the impeller turns series. Someday you are going to write a best selling novel chronicling your fishing adventures.

The two best parts of the trip were seeing the security guards face :mad: as Hogmaster asks if we can fish in the sutrgeon pond and letting the Tahoe cool down. If we hadnt let her cool down it could have been bad. Lesson learned. Thanks for the trip again even though it was almost from hell. :grin:
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