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Monday, January 15, 2018

A Year In Review: 2008

Written 1/15/2018

I put this one off for quite some time because writing about 2008, in 2018 is quite the ordeal, I'm about 10 years detached. Looking back through the photos it looks like I kept up with fishing with friends, a little escapism from college here and there. Most notably this was a year with 0 lifers caught, the first since I started documenting in 2007. My father once famously said something along the lines of "enjoy the fishing while it lasts when you get older you won't be able to keep this up anymore".  I get what he meant, I have tried to keep fishing a centerpiece in my life ever since.

Summer Time and the Livins' Easy...

Monday, January 8, 2018

Bomb Cyclone and the Great White Sturgeon (2018)

It started as they all did an ill fated thought slowly turned to fruition. What kind of maniac flies across the United States to fish for two days? So much room for error, for weather, for delay, for complete financial devastation. However fear not life bestowed upon me yet another amazing trip for the books, my first time on the west coast was a resounding success.

Sensationalized media reported a “bomb cyclone” (did they make that up?) hitting the east coast, stating it’s the snow equivalent to a hurricane. The name was goofy but the results real, Georgia and Florida got snow and cold they haven’t saw in 30 years. Thousands of flights north and south of us cancelled. We just got the extreme cold, home settled for single digit temps and negative lows with high wind as we took off for a much warmer Oregon.

We landed in Oregon and didn’t waste any time, this was carefully crafted precision trip taking. I’ve honed my skills over the years to ensure not a moments wasted. First stop was oddly enough, Washington state for a first time visit and some grub. Later that night mark and I snagged $20 seats to the Portland Trailblazers vs Atlanta Hawks game. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an NBA game on tv ever but it was definitely an enthralling way to spend the evening.

We quickly rose the next morning to what we set out to do, fish for white sturgeon. We met up with Olivier Gandzadi an angler we saw on Instagram check out his Page. Olivier had a confident grin on his face when I said I’d be happy with one small sturgeon. We claimed our spot on the bank and set up shop. What came next could only be described as an old endless onslaught, 3 baits never stayed in the water. Tap tap tap, swing swing swing, up came the ghost like beings from the depths armed with razor scutes and lifeless eyes. Gorgeous, majestic creatures we caught mostly what locals refer to as “shakers” (small ones) however we went on to catch sizable fish with frequency. Many good times were had as the day went on swinging endless prehistoric dinosaurs from river to hand. We also got to see a sea lion for the first time in our lives which was truly magical, unfortunately no photo of him swimming amongst the sturgeon drenched waters but the memory will be lasting. Beaten, bruised, smelly and tired we headed to get some food which was absolutely delicious. We made way for the hotel, tomorrow would cause us to pivot due to forecasted rain.

We slept in, checked out the rain maps and drove south until we were clear of it. We did some research and were going to try a spot that was completely on a hunch. At the spot we were greeted by a local donning a cowboy hat who immediately stated “you guys here to kill some trash fish?” We squeezed him for intel, we were in the right spot, wrong season. 90 minutes into fishing I set the hook on a heavy weight, alas Northern Squawfish/Pikeminnow came to hand. This is incredibly odd to write but the Portland fish and game vehemently hate the NATIVE pikeminnow so much they actually pay you to kill them, no seriously the advertise this, set up a website and everything, check it out at Seems like some odd priorities but to each their own, mine went back to thrive and swim again treated like any other trophy fish, 30 Seconds out of the water, a lifetime in.

 This trip was truly special at this point seeing as I caught all the fish I feasibly came for, it seemed as though the trip was on a roll of success. We put in 5 hours attempting to get mark a fish but it never came to pass. I talked to a local vendor who had no idea what sturgeon were and was completely enamored by the fact I took fishing vacations. I asked her if the place we were at closed and she stated no but “odd people without homes wonder at night” I found her phrasing to be unintentionally hilarious, she gave me the coffee for free and I gave her a tip, nothing but good vibes coming from Oregon. We went to grab some food but accidentally went to a ritzy restaurant which was the low point of our trip should of doubled up on the sushi instead. Meh.

We were out of things to do so we checked out a movie i wanted to see Ladybird so now seemed like a good time. A girl who’s bump to my seat would of barely registered on the movie theater richter scale made it a point to profusely apologize once the movie ended, the good vibes continued, Dorothy I don’t think we’re on the east coast anymore. This is when the trip truly took a turn for the special. I found a place called “Ground Kontrol” in Portland a late night 21+ ARCADE that sold beer. Oh dear sweet baby Jesus was this built for me. Dio and other metal legends came thundering out of the speakers as I played old school X-men and Ninja turtles on arcade machines, bouncing pinballs back and fourth on the KISS machine, with a cold beer not far behind. This was the only time in my life i felt like I was in a movie, the perfect encapsulation of my childhood, id be a poor man if this existed at home. We went straight from the arcade to the airport and waited for one of three flights home. What a truly special adventure, audacious and bold to say the least but that’s the way we like em’.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Year In Review: 2017

Ah, life....what a wild ride. This years festivities didn't leave room for much fishing. Working and metal concerts predominantly shaped 2017, but we managed to squeak out some time on the water anyway!

I came into 2017 swinging with both fists clenched, we blazed new ground and tried to target Burbot in Canada. Unfortunately we didn't succeed but great times were had, however 2017 decided that this would be the trend woven into the year. Read it here: Zero Dark Burbot

I always love getting out on the local hard water despite lack of worthy targets, its part of the Pennsylvanian landscape I've learned to accept and embrace.

I got the frantic phone call from Mark, the shad were in town. You can read about it here, or you can enjoy this picture. Shad! Shad! Shad!

I'm absolutely dumbstruck and amazed by the sole lifer of 2017. If you were to ask me what fish I'd be okay with being the ONLY lifer of an entire year I'd say hands down the Sand Tiger Shark. What an honor to hold one and release it back into crushing waves. Damn.

I didn't plan on going quietly into the good night, however that is what I ended up doing. I tried to nail down another lifer nemesis in the elusive Mud Sunfish. However the glory was all Kori's on this trip as she flaunted her victory over my head. I've taken 3 people to catch them, and three people have caught them, I still wait for my glorious day however. Instead enjoy a photo of a Bluespotted Sunfish:

But lets not forget bigger picture folks. What did the Russo babies catch in 2017? I'm glad you asked, I can happily say I did bring their fishing careers to the forefront of my efforts, they did not let down.  Maddy's caught a fair amount of lifers at this point so she went fishing a lot but managed to secure 1 Cutlips Minnow. Skylar on the other hand has some catching up with her sister to do and caught 4 lifers, and 1 PB! Her lifer Cutlips Minnow, American Eel, Golden Shiner, and Rainbow Trout all made their way to shore. She also caught a PB Yellow Perch.