Eric Norgaard caught his PB laker with me today. The big male went 18 LB. and was released right after this photo. Congrats buddy!
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Something very special happened this past week that was pretty cool! Let me back up to several years ago when I was just getting into fishing for lake trout a lot.
It actually all started when Steve Kroll and Terry Bennett (two of the best laker anglers in all of Oregon), shared their deep water laker drill with me when we all had just connected with Scotty Downriggers. I was hired by Scotty in a sales support position to drum up business in Central and Eastern Oregon and suggested that Steve and Terry be taken on in pro-staff positions. Back then Terry, Steve and I would often fish together, mostly at Odell. That is where I saw how awesome and effective this technique was at targeting deep water lakers on specific structure.
I decided to take it over to Crescent Lake where buddy, Steve Kelly, and I worked on finding the big lakers that inhabit this beautiful lake and the deep water structure they love to hang on. It was so successful that in our best year (that covered May, June and July only) we took 153 lakers over 10 Lb., 65 over 15 LB., 23 over 20 LB. and 1 over 30 LB. It was so effective that it eventually became a bit boring to me and I decided to spend more time pursuing the brown trout that were much more of a challenge to catch....at least the bigger ones.
We had established an excellent run on one side of the lake we referred to as the “table top.”Through time on the water, we had established a group of waypoints that revealed several underwater “mini” peaks that the lakers loved. Almost anytime we went out to fish for them......there would always be some there and better yet, always a few takers!
Back in those days, we all had hand held GPS units like the Garmin Etrex that we would use to mark the points of interest and also be able to accurately gauge our speed. One day, I dropped mine in the bottom of the boat and that was it for that unit. Steve had some huge trials in his life at the time and wasn’t fishing much and eventually sold both of his old units which held these “magic” waypoints. I ended up with one but it gave out and then a mutual friend ended up with the other one.
Fast forward to last week when Eric Noorgard and I are getting out on Crescent to fish for browns and lakers. I knew that Eric had Steve’s old Etrex but we were going to work on browns to begin with and then check out those old haunts I hadn’t seen in many years. The browns proved to be tough with Eric getting a little one early that morning. We decided that from what we were seeing, the lake seemed to be way behind schedule to me and so we headed to the other end of the lake to see if we could find the kokanee and the pelagic lakers. They were there and as luck would have it, I was bitten off on big 6 in. Lyman around 8:00 a.m. on 20 LB. line......ouch, that hurt! Worse yet, a laker is swimming around with my lure in his face.....unfortunately, a lousy part of the game.
After a lot of laps around through the kokanee balls and no bites, we decided to change gears and see what the old waypoints would reveal if anything. I was pretty excited as we watched Eric’s GPS heading into them and my new Lowrance graph to confirm we were actually hitting them. As we came up on the first one, we both could see several lakers on both sides of the pinnacle and also a few around the top of it. We decided to rig up and give it a go. Within the first few minutes of getting the sets down there, my rod starts bouncing. I had convinced Eric that I wanted him to get a good one (his previous best was around 10 Lb.) so he was to take either rod until we accomplished the goal. As it turned out, a big headed male eventually tired out and was finally swimming a few feet down behind the boat. After getting it in the net and weighing it within it, it was determined it weighed a little over 18 LB. As you can see in the photo, he was long and lean....if he had any girth, he could have been in the mid-20’s easily.
After lunch we headed back out to put all the waypoints into my graph and concentrate on the best of the spots. The wind came up and made it hard to stay on course and, more importantly, to keep the correct speed to trigger the strikes. I think we actually caught 5 total with most around 9-11 LB. and the bigger one at 18 LB. Eric caught before lunch. We also had a few missed strikes so it was an interesting afternoon to say the least. The increase in wind speed changed the drill and we went back to pulling plugs but to no avail. We finally called it a day early in the evening and headed home.
The following week I took my trailer up to East lake to spend a little time camping and fishing. My buddy, Tom Staley, pulled my boat while I towed the trailer which really helped me out and saved some gas. We hit it right during a low pressure system and after some snow up a little higher in the crater. After catching a few small browns, we worked on getting Tom a limit of kokanee and I decided to donate my limit as well......they have a big family. A little later that week I had my uncle, Dick Arnold, and his son, Mark, out for a morning. We caught a nice rainbow and Mark’s biggest brown trout at 3.5 LB. It was a slower morning and we bagged it by around 1:00.
I will back up there for a couple of days this next week before the July 4th weekend starts........check back for another report and maybe a product review on an interesting product many of you guys using downriggers will be interested in.