Fishing with Ross Outdoor Adventures
A Review

Fishing in Potholes Reservoir, WA with Ross Outdoor Adventures (Photo: Yiling Wong, May 2018)

I Did My Part for Sustainable Fishing and It Was Delicious!

Consider this great experience gift for your next Father’s Day or other family event!

My parents live in Minnesota, and ever since I can remember, they loved to fish. After ten years in the Pacific Northwest, it finally occurred to me to take my Baba [1] fishing here, given the abundant fish and all. I hadn’t gone fishing on my own in about ten years, and didn’t own a boat or equipment, so we hired a guide.

K and I had heard through the grapevine that bass and walleye were “🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥” in Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake this time of year! We booked with Shelby Ross of Ross Outdoor Adventures last minute. I was glad he made room for us in his schedule on a sunny Saturday, the morning after my father flew into town. He was very responsive by phone and email, so it was less intimidating calling a stranger for a short notice booking. In my Midwestern childhood, I learned that fishing was all about getting up at the crack of dawn to sit quietly on a boat or dock and wait, possibly never catching any fish. So I steeled myself to be happy even just for a day on the water in a boat, rocking gently to and fro…

Also in this Post

Ingredients / Steps / Experience Rating / Walleye Origins / Cook MethodsA Poll

Ingredients:

  • Fishing licenses for the year or day(s) –one per person, from Fred Meyers, Cabela’s, &c.*
  • The usual Sunday outing kit: sunscreen, layers, bug spray, sunglasses, a hat
  • Optional: snacks and hydration
  • Cooler and access on-site to ice (or bring your own ice if you think it’ll last in solid state)
  • Willingness to drive

*Fishing licenses for folks from out-of-state are easier to get if they are there in person.

Steps

  1. Book with Shelby Ross.
  2. Get fishing licenses.
  3. Drive out to Eastern Washington.
  4. Meet with Shelby at the dock, get in the boat, enjoy the ride!
  5. Reel in walleye as Shelby takes the boat along his favorite routes for a good catch.
  6. Lose track of how many fish you caught.
  7. Watch Shelby clean the fish (totally optional: help clean the fish).
  8. Put gutted fish (or pristine fillets) on ice in your cooler.
  9. Drive home (optional: passengers take an afternoon nap).
  10. Eat walleye for days, brag to your friends.

When we got back to the house, my father very gleefully checked ‘no’ on his fishing license to report his catch of salmon, steelhead trout, and all manner of prized fish types of Washington. [2]

Experience Rating

Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 I’d gone fishing before, but not quite like this, especially with catching a 11 walleye, 1 perch, and a large-mouth bass (the latter was thrown back due to regulations). Helping to manage the walleye population, woohoo! I think we actually caught more but a few were over the 22 inch limit.
Lessons Learned

  • It was worth the scenic drive out from Seattle, about 3 hours without too much traffic early Saturday.
  • This was really luxuriant fishing. Like glamping but for fishing. Glampishing? I was all ready to hook worms like when I was a kid. But unless I dashed for it, Shelby was quick to hook the worms up, and adjust the fishing lines just so.
  • People fillet fish differently, Shelby was very kind and understanding of my indecision of how we wanted them gutted. It wasn’t until I saw his style that I realized I’d assumed everyone gutted and cleaned fish the way I grew up seeing my mom do it, where you take the guts out, scale it, and leave most of the whole fish intact. Shelby gutted, rinsed, and then cut the fish down to the white fillets like you see in the frozen aisle at the grocery store. He also gamely made a few with the skin intact (with scales) for grilling or smoking, and a couple whole ones at my request. [3]
Gutting walleye from Potholes Reservoir: K pulls that middle bit out, Shelby does the most dirty work, the fish loses every time (Photo: Yiling Wong May 2018)
Gutting walleye from Potholes Reservoir: K pulls that middle bit out, Shelby does the most dirty work, the fish loses every time. I helped later too, don’t worry. (Photo: Yiling Wong May 2018)
  • Walleye grow BIG out here, and the Department of Fish & wildlife doesn’t seem to mind if you catch them (up to 8 under 22 inches per person per day…) because they’re invasive. It’s like you’re doing a favor catching them so the native salmon get a better chance!
  • #snackpriorities – turns out I didn’t need to pack so many snacks, Shelby’s got the same snack priorities I do, which are: make sure to bring them. Awesome. We even lucked out and got to sample from homemade duck sausage on our ride! There were ample drinks for hydration in the cooler on the boat too. I needn’t have worried, even though I still tend to travel with my own snacks anyway.
  • Baba’s Pro-tip on Fish Catch Photos – hold the fish straight out at the camera away from you, where the poor sucker’s body is the closest part to the camera and you are far away. The angle really emphaSIZES things.
Walleye catch with photo-taking demo (Photo: Yiling Wong, May 2018)
Left: K demonstrates what not to do to make the fish look big (but get a different, awesome photo). Right: Baba demonstrates holding a large-mouthed bass.
  • There were clouds of midges on the water that day, and they’d really bug me when there was no wind. Blegh. More protein on my sandwich than I had planned. Not sure this is the norm or just that day, and relieved they weren’t mosquitoes.

Likelihood of Repeat: 60% – Out of town visitors get extra budget spending capacity.. but 90% likely we’re going fishing again this year since now K and I have licenses. There is an undeniable appeal to backpacking without carrying as much food and just catching your [delicious] dinner…

Walleye Origins
According to Shelby, the walleye in Potholes are originally from the Midwest, introduced decades ago by two brothers from Minnesota.

Cook Methods

A wonderful thing about eating fish: a fillet typically cooks in less than 15 minutes. Presto: delicious! So far, we’ve made it three different ways: baked, fried, and steamed. We’ve got a few skin-on fillets to try and smoke later too, trials on the Big Green Egg pending. See poll below.

A Poll

Which would you like to see next on fish?

Footnotes

Our catch of walleye and one perch from Potholes Reservoir with Rose Outdoor Adventures' guide Ross Shelby
That classic catch photo: mostly walleye and one perch from Potholes Reservoir with Rose Outdoor Adventures’ guide Ross Shelby. He’s looking pretty stoic here but definitely a stand-up guy.

[1] Baba: 爸爸, father (in Mandarin)
[2] For more legit sustainable fish references than Yours Truly, see The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. They even have an app for it.
[3] Funny video: Chris Pratt guts and fillets a fish (Vanity Fair, January 3, 2017)

[4] I’m pretty sure this was the heavy duty electric fish fillet knife Shelby used, which did a spiffy job for gutting. I wouldn’t recommend it for scaling or more delicate work, but for making quick work for bare fillets, it was pretty impressive. I’ve got my eye on it for gifting..

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.