Jeff Peterson with a killer buck brown. Estimated at 8LB.+ Photo courtesy Unc Dave
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Years ago, my good friend, Tim Cambra, brought John Werwie on an Oregon steelheading trip. If you know JW, all conversations ultimately get to brown trout and the "Sacred Brotherhood of Brownbaggers." When I showed some interest in brown fishing, Tim pulled me off to the side and said, "Don't go brown fishing with John because he stays out from sunup to sundown."
So a few years go by of my listening to JW talk about brown fishing and I get interested. A questionable decision was about to be made. So what should I do? Just Ask John. So I ask him, "what do I need?" He says, " you need a combo for lead core, another for top-lining, another for jerking, another for down-rigging and a couple of spares. He even offered to help me pick 'em out!
After the first thousand dollars, I ask what lures I might need. So now we start traveling. We go to Central Calif., No. Calif., Sacramento and on to Reno. Another thousand later, I have several new large tackle tackle trays and new bags to put 'em in. Now I'm ready. I ask John where I should go since he hasn't offered to take me. He said, "go to Wickiup and I'll get Rick Arnold to take you but here's my advice, don't catch one over 10 pounds with Rick." Off I go, a couple thousand poorer, trying not to catch a big fish.
I load up all my new gear in my truck and trailer and drive the 500 miles to Wickiup to meet a guy named Rick. I find him wandering around the campground looking very hungry. He agrees to take me fishing provided I prepare him a BBQ'ed steak, let him stay in my trailer and buy one of his hats for $25.00. The big day finally arrives and he is well fed and rested, including morning coffee and rolls. We hit the water before sun-up. He surveys my new rods, reels and tackle collection and informs me to never, Just ask John for help. He then mumbles something about being a rookie and references a 10 pounder. After trolling for some time, I hook into a nice fish and he admits it's a good one. I get my knife ready to cut the line in case it's over 10 but as I get it to the boat, he happily informs me it is only 7 1/2 pounds and I was relieved. We caught a few more smaller fish and called it a day. I continue to fish out of my 12' cartopper and caught several nice fish including an 8 pounder. Not a bad first trip.
After a year went by and John or Rick had not invited me to go again, I decided to Just ask John what I needed to do. He said I needed a bigger boat and maybe he'd fish with me. So I dug up a can of money I had buried out back and gave it to him. In no time, he had located a very nice 19' Alumaweld.
I was quite pleased and foolishly asked if we were now ready to go. He of course said no and ordered me new seats, a new 8 hp Yamaha, new electric Scottys, a new Furuno, etc. Now, we're really talking poor.
Again I waited for the invite and it finally came. I should meet he and Rick at Wickiup, right after Labor Day. I was really excited. Although I was on my first trip to Alaska last year, I thought it was necessary to come home early to fish with the "Masters." The ten day drive from Alaska was made with great anticipation. Leave Alaska where I had just caught a 31", 11 1/2 pound rainbow out of my 12 footer was no big deal to a couple of brown fishermen. About 3 days out from the Wickiup trip, John calls to inform me that the trip was off. Water is too low.....total disappointment on my part.
When I arrived home, I called John. His wife Michelle answered and said, "John and Rick decided to go to Wickiup anyway and have caught about 80 of those Brown trout." I finally realized I needed to get my own fishing partner but I couldn't tow my new boat and my travel trailer. I decided to once again, Just Ask John what to do. He gleefully responded, "You need a camper" With no more cans of buried money, I started selling off prized possessions. In a short time, he had located a very deluxe Lance camper for about twice what I had expected to pay.
Now I'm finally set with a boat, camper and enough equipment to open a store. I decide to invite my old friend, Tim, who had warned me about John many years ago. We would be heading up to Wickiup in a few weeks. We plan the trip and call John for advice. He informs us that he and Rick have cancelled their trip because of high water! Sounds suspicious to me! We are sure they are trying to trick us so we went anyway. Yes, the water was too high for a couple of "rookies" so we went to East Lake instead. Tim and I fished for 3 days after the full moon and Tim landed 11 Browns, 5 over 6 pounds with his best around 9 pounds. My nephew, Jeff came over and after a day spent working on his boat we tried Wickiup for an evening. We realized with the high water and no word of any good fish being caught, we should head back to East Lake. My whole reason for this trip was to introduce my nephew to brown fishing as he only gets to fish a couple days a year. After fishing for several hours Sunday morning with no bumps, he appeared to be losing interest. Around 10:00 a.m., I see his rod dip and he says, "I think I have a fish." After a lengthy battle with a drag that was way too loose, he lands an 8 1/2 pound hook jaw. Not bad for his first outing!
Maybe I should have stuck with the 12 footer and one rod but what would I have done with all that money John had so much fun spending?
So, if you need any help, Just ask John!
Dave "Snapper" Peterson
p.s. Don't ask me about the nickname!!