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Good time to be young in the Great Outdoors

To be a young outdoorsman in today’s world would be grand. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has so many opportunities available for beginners, from youth-only hunts to first-time tags, and there is a smorgasbord of available hunts. 

(Image is Clickable Link) Marty Liesegang This past year, I have experienced a lot of firsts with young outdoorsmen, and with lots more on the horizon, I hope.

Last fall we were able to make it down to Buoy 10 with Terry Loggerwell of Rivercity Guide service, and take part in the great silver fishery. My young fishing companion, Mason Mortenson, thoroughly enjoyed catching the first two salmon of his lifetime. If it didn’t hook him for life, I would be surprised. Later in the season, my dad and I were able to get Mason into the mentor program, which allows a young hunter between the ages of 9 and 11 to hunt under an adult mentor’s tag. 

After hiking all morning and seeing lots of deer, plus witnessing a forest fire being fought with planes and a ground crew, we finally connected on a young mule deer buck. 

All this was a great experience for everyone involved and has really created in Mason the start of a lifelong passion for the outdoors. So much so that he chose to enroll in the hunter safety class held at the Rainier Rod and Gun Club. And I’m happy to say that, at the tender age of 10, he passed with flying colors. Mason’s diligent studying between baseball games really paid off. 

All of this brings me to his most recent first: hooking a sturgeon. Although I have been known to get skunked fishing a time or two, I thought I could handle finding a few sturgeon for two young outdoorsmen.

We loaded the boat and headed for the Multnomah Channel to hopefully catch and release a few sturgeon. I tried a few spots I had heard of with no success before finding a really deep hole, over 50 feet, upriver aways. I thought it seemed like a likely spot, so we dropped the anchor and baited the poles. 

We immediately had bites, and lots of them.  As hard as we tried, though, we couldn’t get a single hook up! Must be something really small, I reasoned.  After re-baiting, I settled one rod in a holder and laid the other across the cooler out the back of the boat. It wasn’t too long before a large boat came passing by, causing a fairly large wake, and with it the weight bounced a little, or so I thought. As I stood in the front of the boat, watching the poles, the “unattached” pole moved a little.

I, of course, attributed it to the aforementioned boat. I quickly realized my mistake when the pole skidded across the cooler, leaving the boat. I took one step and dove for the brand-new pole, grabbing the handle just before it went over.

Standing up, I firmly set the hook and handed off the rod.  Each kid took turns fighting the fish as I held the pole in the middle, helping once in awhile to keep the barbless hook firmly attached to the fish. The pole bent in half and the reel whined as the fish began peeling line. The boys were smiling ear-to-ear as they tried to crank the reel handle. Each time they gained some ground, the fish would run again, deeper and farther. 

I was convinced we must have hooked an oversize one. 

The boys continued to tag-team the fish for about 10 minutes. Then, with a little more help from me, we finally got the sturgeon to the boat. To my surprise it was only about a 42-incher; but it sure had a lot of fight in it.

Of course, they wanted to see the fish and touch its dinosaur-like skin. But, as we were admiring the fish and how odd it and its species look, the other pole doubled over in the holder. It was apparent the lessons learned from the earlier catch had not been lost as Mason grabbed the pole and set the hook. I hurriedly turned the other fish loose and went to help. We were once again engaged in a battle of wills with the fish. Again, it took both boys to wrestle the sturgeon off the bottom and up to the boat.

Though neither fish exceeded 45 inches, they put up an awesome fight for a 10- and 5-year-old. They both got to catch their very first sturgeon and I didn’t have to clean any fish, which was a win-win in my book. 

Two hard-fighting sturgeon was enough for the boys. They said their arms were too tired to catch anymore and thought it should probably be lunch time. We pulled anchor and headed back downriver. It is fairly safe to say, judging by their smiles, that the sturgeon trip had provided a very successful first for the young outdoorsmen.

Hunting

n The draw results are out. Don’t forget to purchase your tags prior to the first day of the season.

Fishing

n Salmon fishing has been heating up in the lower river and as of now you don’t have to worry about fins.

n Don’t forget summer wobbler fishing right here on the river.

n Walleye fishing, according to most, has been consistent.

n Aug. 1 is the opener for Buoy 10 fishing and all reports point to another banner year.

n Ocean fishing has also been good and the tuna have been as close as 17-mile marker.

Marty Liesegang contributes an occasional outdoor column to the Spotlight. He is the owner of Jackpot Market in Scappoose.

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