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When they're not going fishing, fishing guides go fishing.

Byline: INSIDE THE OUTDOORS By Mike Stahlberg The Register-Guard

Many Oregonians use vacation time to go fishing. But what does an Oregon fishing guide do on vacation? Golf? Hike? Sit next to a swimming pool and read novels?

If he's a fishin' fanatic like Todd Linklater, he camps out at Wickiup Reservoir for several days of serious fishing for fun rather than a paycheck.

"It's fun to actually be fishing again," Linklater said as he boated a silvery kokanee that had been bouncing around on the surface of the lake like a mini-marlin.

While Linklater spends a couple hundred days a year in boats, he doesn't get to do much actual fishing.

He's busy running motors, baiting hooks, changing lures, telling stories, advising where to cast next and sometimes even asking a client to please set the hook because "THERE HE IS! THERE HE IS!"

After fall chinook season fades into winter steelhead season and winter steelhead season melts into spring chinook season, Linklater is ready to get away from it all for a few days.

By going fishing, of course.

While working, Linklater fishes mostly for salmon and steelhead. On his annual vacation at Wickiup, he fishes for kokanee, a trout-sized landlocked sockeye salmon.

For a couple of years now, Linklater has been suggesting I do a story on a technique that his buddy, Russ Mathews of Walterville, uses to catch more and bigger kokanee out of Wickiup than almost anyone.

Mathews and Linklater became friends when both were guiding out of the same Alaskan fishing lodge several years ago. The Wickiup campout has become an annual reunion.

Like most kokanee anglers, Linklater had always anchored over a cloud of kokanee and jigged for them.

Three years ago, Mathews said he'd show Linklater how to catch bigger kokanee by still fishing with a piece of worm and a couple kernels of corn, just a few inches off the bottom.

The first time Linklater tried the technique, Mathews had 17 kokanee in his cooler to his one.

"We were using the same worms, the same corn, the same hooks, the same leader," Linklater said. "It was driving me crazy."

Calm down, Todd, you're on vacation.

Mathews just sat there watching his rod and smiling.

Finally, it dawned on Linklater.

His "buddy" had told him to bring a spinning rod. But Mathews had his own spinning reel attached to a nine-foot, five-weight fly rod.

The tip of that limber rod would tremble ever so slightly whenever a kokanee mouthed the kernel of corn on the hook.

Seeing that, Mathews would immediately give the rod a quick jerk, and the fish would feel the bite of the treble hook.

Fight on.

Meanwhile, the tip of Linklater's spinning rod was too stiff to yield any clue that fish had been mouthing his bait as well.

"I made him switch rods with me," Linklater said. "Then I started catching fish and he couldn't."

Mathews laughed at the re-telling of the story one day last week during the fourth annual outing of the Kokanee Korps.

"Aw, I would've told him sooner or later," he said. "That's what friends are for."

Mathews, who says he has caught kokanee as large as 22 inches on his fly rod/spinning reel combination, isn't sure why the big fish are such soft biters.

"I think they're just trying to get the sweetness out of the corn," he said.

Kokanee are plankton feeders, so it's unclear why they have any interest whatsoever in worms, corn, or flashing jigs that look like wounded minnows as they flutter through the water.

Truth is, last week at Wickiup they didn't exhibit a great deal of interest in any of the above.

I didn't test Mathews' technique myself. A brisk wind turned the surface of the lake so rough that Mathews rod tips were quivering constantly, making it virtually impossible to see vibrations as subtle as he described.

Mathews gamely stuck with his fly rod and managed to boat only one kokanee (plus one eight-pound brown trout), while Linklater and I had better luck the old-fashioned way - jigging Zingers of various hues.

For Linklater, it was vacation.

But for the Outdoor Guy, it was just another day at work.

Mike Stahlberg can be reached at
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 3, 2007
Previous Article:Mother Teresa once said, `If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to one another.
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