Trophy Trout Guide


The Making of The American Outdoorsman
(Big Bulls from Lake Billy Chinook)


Steve with a toad 13 plus pounder...A 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?

The "Hydro-Therapy" houseboat provided by Cove Palisades...Saturday 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.

Rick with a quality fish...The 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 we needed.

Looking up the crooked Arm from the overlook...The 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.

Rick and Steve chilling in the houseboat...This 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


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