Everything was coming up rainbows for anglers fishing at Timber Linn Lake, an 11-acre water body at Timber Linn Memorial Park in Albany.
We didn’t know what was coming, “we just showed up,” said a grinning Aidan Gates, 14. “At first we just caught that little one,” he added, pointing to a 14-inch rainbow trout on a stringer.
The grin widened.
“Then all of a sudden the stocking truck showed, and we got all excited.”
The reason for the smiles on the faces of Aidan and his fishing buddy, Joel Ryan, 15, was obvious. Each was holding up a 12-plus-pound hatchery brood rainbow trout, an early present Monday from Santa via the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocking truck from the state’s Roaring River Hatchery near Scio.
It was a first broodfish for Ryan, who made a serendipitous decision to visit the lake during the extended winter school break. Other than a halibut, it was the biggest fish he ever had caught.
In an interesting turn of phrase, he said he didn’t fish “oftenly.”
“But I decided it would be cool,” Joel said. “I haven’t been fishing for a while, so I just decided to go fishing and see what happens.”
Gates and Ryan were among the dozen or so anglers braving a stiff breeze and intermittent spittle of rain on Monday at Timber Linn.
Almost all put one trout 20 inches or longer on their stringers. That’s the legal limit in the five-trout daily bag limit in Oregon.
Timber Linn Lake was one of four water bodies each stocked with 100 broodfish on Monday.
The others were Walling Pond inside the Salem city limits off 16th Street just north of McGilchrist Street, Junction City Pond on the west side of Highway 99W about 3 miles south of Junction City, and Sunnyside Park Pond off Quartzville Road just northeast of Foster Reservoir about 7 miles from Sweet Home.
The run to Timber Linn Lake was fortuitous for me, too.
Being a lot closer to home, I first stopped at Walling to check out the action … which was, not to put too fine a point on it, almost non-existent.
There were no anglers anywhere along the bank, so I asked a person sitting in his rig if the hatchery truck had been there.
He answered in the affirmative, and then to confirm that, a 2-foot rainbow swirled the surface of the pond about 10 feet out from a beaver-gnawed tree on the bank.
So the whopper rainbows were there, but there was nobody trying to catch them. So I demurred to Timber Linn Lake to see if I could get pictures of some action.
And while at the Albany Lake, I had a reunion of sorts, spotting a familiar face, John Porter, flipping a bright blue spinner trying to score a trout.
Porter was the subject in a memorable photo landing about a 15-pounder that was the illustration for a story about brood rainbow stocking at Junction City Pond that I had written several years before I retired.
Since I knew that Porter was a veteran of fishing for the behemoths, for more than a decade by his recollection, he seemed to be the go-to guy for fishing tips for catching the bruisers.
It was a characterization that drew a hearty laugh.
“I don’t know if I can give any tips,” he said. “I’m being out-fished.
“The (other) guys are doing good,” Porter added, pointing to his right. “He just got one over there. And he got one,” he said, then gestured to Gates and Ryan fishing down the bank about 15 feet to his left, “they did good here, too.”
“I haven’t gotten anything, just some little ones and stuff, so not too much to report.”
But he was generous in offering advice about what works for him.
“Usually I just throw spinners and spoons, Kastmasters and Rooster Tails, stuff like that,” Porter said. “And I change colors pretty often. And if I don’t get a hit, then after a while I’ll switch out lures.”
As far as the bait anglers …
“PowerBait,” he said matter-of-factly. “The one thing that I’ve noticed is a lot of people use regular PowerBait, and somebody will hook up, and they’re using garlic-scented PowerBait.
“So if I could give one tip, that would probably to have it with you just in case. Sometimes they prefer the garlic scent.”
There still should be brood fish available for Christmas, but according to Fish and Wildlife, this week’s stocking runs are the last scheduled for 2017, including Wednesday deliveries scheduled to Huddleston Pond (100) in Willamina, Canby Pond (50) in Canby for youths and those with disabled-angler permits, Henry Hagg Lake (125) 7 miles southwest of Forest Grove, Mt. Hood Pond (25) on the campus of Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, and Blue Lake (100) 3 miles west of Troutdale.
So have at it.
Tight lines and happy holidays.
Henry Miller is a retired Statesman Journal outdoor columnist/reporter. He can be reached via email at HenryMillerSJ@gmail.com