Making of The American Outdoorsman
(Big Bulls from Lake Billy Chinook)
wonderful opportunity came my way a few weeks ago. We had
been in contact with the production people at the American
Outdoorsman TV program and they had expressed interest in
filming at Lake Billy Chinook for an upcoming episode. The
timing was tough, but we were able to pull it off.
The host, Mark Tobin, cameraman and director, Chris Higgins,
and VP of Sales, Stan Jones, were waiting at PDX for me
to pick them up when my phone rang. They were at baggage
pick up while I was still waiting for them to get off the
plane. I was a little late because of a diversion to Vancouver,
WA. earlier in the morning to pick up a Shimano reel, that
I wanted to try out during the shoot. After introductions,
we were off for the promised land and our night time ride
up the lake to the shimmering lights of the 60 foot "Hydro-Therapy"
deluxe houseboat we would call home for the next 7 days.
How sweet was this deal?
morning we got right on it and did a shoreline run with
some familiar plugs that have done well countless times.
Wouldn't you know it? Turns out to be a tough morning. After
overcoming some of my anxiety about being on camera, Mark
Tobin the host, made me feel comfortable enough to finally
relax. Midday we finally connected on some medium size bulls
running 3-4 Lb. At least the crew finally got to see their
first bull trout.
We were working a stretch of the Metolius Arm where we had
much better water quality than the island area. About the
time everyone was starting to nod off in the afternoon sun,
the herring/flasher rig went over hard after telegraphing
the initial bite. Mark jumped up to get control of the big
bull. I had coupled a small Shimano Tekota 300 with one
of their Crucial baitcasting rods to really give the guys
their money's worth.
big bull was pretty much in control for the first 5 minutes
before we got some color and the fish then decided that
he wanted nothing to do with us. The rod throbbed and the
drag screamed as the bull went down to a more comfortable
position, 60-70 feet below. Finally Mark tired the fish
and we got him to the net. The fish, weighed in my net,
went 13.75 Lb. That translates to a little over 11 Lb. I
was doing back flips from the excitement of getting a bull
of that size on film. Mission accomplished for day one.....4
bulls to 11 Lb. Not great numbers, but a big boy on film.
Day two started off with a bang when the biggest bull of
the TV program ate a herring whole at 65 feet. The big male
took Mark for a ride he would never forget. These fish often
display their power right at the boat. I usually caution
clients to maintain control of the bigger bulls when they
get near the boat. I have had them bust off on the motor
and the hull as they ran right under the boat. It wasn't
the case this time, as we finally slid the net under this
monstrous 12 Lb. hookjaw bull. After some great footage
of underwater action and the release, I felt like I had
just hit a grand slam homerun. Two bulls over 10 Lb. in
two days. It had to be down hill from here. The rest of
the day proved to be tougher than I had hoped and we only
boated one other small bull.
That night, as we had a powwow on what we would look for
the next day, Chris the cameraman said he hoped for more
fish action. "What are you looking for" I asked,
curiously. "Well, it would be nice if we could get
at least 5 more fish of any size to fill us in with plenty
of fighting action shots" he said. As we retired that
evening, I shot up a prayer for the Lord to provide what
next morning was completely overcast and no wind at all.
I made the call to work the lower stretch of the Metolius
with double herring rigs and boy, did it pay off! When the
bite finally got going around 8:00 a.m., it suddenly turned
to wide open and we could do no wrong. We had two doubles
while clearing the second rod on two occasions and when
it finally slowed up we had caught 14 bulls in 2.5 hours.
What a way to finish the fishing part of the shoot. Nothing
big, but all the action they had hoped for and then some!
One of the highlights of the wildlife shots came one morning
when I prophetically asked Mark if he had ever seen a bald
eagle steal a kokanee from an osprey after it had caught
one. It wasn't 15 minutes later that we called out to the
"B" camera boat behind us, to check out the circling
pair as the eagle pestered the osprey until he finally dropped
the kokanee from about 60 feet. The eagle made the attempt
to catch the kokanee right before it hit the water, but
didn't succeed. The guys were amazed at what we had just
seen and got on film. Oh, by the way, it appeared that the
kokanee swam away as we didn't see him on the surface as
would have been expected.
whole experience was something I will never forget. What
a great group of guys to work with and then to have my buddy
Steve Kelly and business associate Mark along for the ride
made this one of the best weeks of my life.
Look for the dates of the airing of the show on this website,
when I have them. It looks like, in all probability, that
it wouldn't be any sooner than this coming fall. The show
comes across on satellite via Dish Network and Direct TV.
How am I going to top this?????
Screamin' Drags, Rick