Avid anglers share their bounty, place in tournaments
By Dianna Troyer
Photos Courtesy of Shane Osterhout
While patiently jigging their fishing lines in holes augured into ice, Shane Osterhout swaps fishing tales with family and friends. Although anglers often exaggerate for entertainment, Shane doesn’t need to.
He, his sons and brothers are known for their adventures.
“Sometimes we’ll swim or wade between islands on the Snake River to find the perfect spot,” Shane says. “I don’t do that so much anymore because the current has rolled me around pretty good sometimes.”
One of Shane’s favorite tales is from a bass fishing tournament in 2017. It was one of those if-you-don’t-laugh-you’ll-cry moments for Shane and his tournament partner, Mike Christensen.
Landing a largemouth bass at Lake Lowell near Boise, Mike was so focused he didn’t notice smoke coming out of the boat’s motor.
“I had my back to it,” Mike says. “It was only our first or second cast of the morning.”
Shane noticed the smoke and had his priorities in order.
“I got the net and landed the fish, of course,” Shane says. “Then I dealt with the motor.”
He grabbed the fire extinguisher and blasted the engine.
“Then flames started shooting up,” Mike says.
They threw buckets of water on the smoldering motor and unhooked the battery to prevent it from catching on fire again.
They agree it was ironic to deal with an electrical fire considering their occupations. Shane, 50, is an electrician foreman, and Mike, 41, is operations superintendent at Raft River Rural Electric Co-op.
“It was probably an electrical short in a wire from years of use,” Shane says. “We never did find out why it started. The whole motor burned up.”
Undeterred, they kept fishing, applying advice from their mentor: Shane’s father, Danny, who taught them to fish when they were childhood friends.
“He always told us, ‘Time on the water equals success,’ and ‘Never give up and keep on casting,’” Mike says.
They relied on a small electric trolling motor to get back to the dock.
“We fished all day and didn’t place, but it was still fun,” Shane says. “We came back the next year and placed.”
For the past decade, Shane and Mike have competed in six to seven fishing tournaments a year throughout Idaho. They usually place in the top three, applying Danny’s advice, enthusiasm and optimism.
Mike says he has always been impressed with Danny’s ability to catch fish.
“He can catch a fish in a mud puddle,” Mike says. “He fishes more than anyone I know and is glad to teach anyone.”
Shane says when he was young, “Dad would drive around the neighborhood and load up any kids who wanted to go fishing.”
Shane still lives near Declo, where he was raised and his parents live.
Year-round, Mike, Shane and Danny fish southeastern Idaho’s countless lakes, reservoirs and rivers for trout, perch, bass, walleye and crappie. They fish not only for relaxation and competition, but to make family memories and share their bounty with those who cannot get out to fish anymore.
“I’ve got about a half dozen neighbors I drop off fish to,” Danny says.
Unlike some anglers with decades of experience, Danny, 70, has no secretive fishing places or baits. He gladly teaches anyone who wants to learn.
“I don’t keep a good spot only to myself like some people do,” Danny says. “I’m not really interested in tournament fishing either. I just fish. As for the best bait, people laugh when I tell them I just use night crawlers and a size 2 Eagle Claw hook. When you put the worm on the hook, you should leave about a half-inch of the tail off the hook. It will wiggle enough to get a fish’s attention.”
Relying on that simple bait, Danny hooked a trophy 15-pound, 2-ounce hybrid trout last May at American Falls Reservoir.
Instead of reeling it in, he handed his pole to a friend.
“He’d just come home from his church mission, so we took him fishing to celebrate,” Danny says. “It was a pretty special day for him. He plans to mount it.”
Danny not only can catch trophy-sized fish, he can clean and filet a crappie—a type of sunfish —in about 30 seconds.
“I’m pretty fast with an electric knife,” he says.
His filleting skills have been tested several times, especially after a day of catching crappies at C.J. Strike Reservoir.
“I was a little embarrassed when a conservation officer checked my catch, and I had 700 crappies in a day,” Danny says. “He told me he wished more people would do that because their population is so hard to control. There’s no limit on how many you can catch.”
With so many fish, they smoke them, pickle them, freeze them in airtight bags or deep-fry them.
“We like to dip them in Cajun seasoning, roll them in cornflakes and deep-fry them,” Shane says.
Since retiring several years ago from Amcor, a company that makes concrete pipe, Danny says he has more time to teach his grandchildren to carry on the Osterhout fishing traditions.
“If you’re ever in a funk, fishing puts you in a good mood,” Danny says. “It’s been good to us.”