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Dante Zuniga-West

Dante Zuniga-West

Dante Zúñiga-West is an Afro-Latino writer and outdoorsman known to some as “The Backwoods Blaxican.” He escaped Los Angeles and now makes his home in Oregon. His fiction has been published in various literary journals. His novel Rumble Young Man Rumble: How I Fought to Stay Alive is awaiting publication in 2014, on Black Coffee Press. For more adventures, check out his weekly column at www.backwoodsblaxican.com or follow him on twitter @BackwoodsBlaxi
dante.zuniga-west@eugenedailynews.com http://www.backwoodsblaxican.com @BackwoodsBlaxi

In-Town Hook-Ups: Fishing Alton Baker Canoe Canal

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dantetroutcatcher

The author with rainbow trout from Alton Baker Canoe Canal.
Photo by Cevinah Chotard

This spring, you don’t have to hike miles into the wilderness or paddle your way into a high-alpine honey hole to make good trout fishing happen. You don’t even have to wait for spring to officially start. Catching nice-sized rainbow trout, in town, is as easy as taking a walk in the park—Alton Baker Park, to be exact.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has kicked off its 2013 stocking schedule and the Alton Baker canoe canal, located in downtown Eugene, right behind Autzen stadium, is now teeming with tasty trout just waited to be caught. ODFW trout-stocking lingo breaks fish into four different sizes: “Legals” are 8-inch pan-sized trout, “Larger” means the trout is 12-inches, “Pounders” are 14-inches and “Trophy” trout are 16-inches long. As of February 4, this year, the canal has already been stocked twice with a combined 3,200 “legals” and 400 “larger” trout.

So let’s say you don’t have time to sneak off into the wild or take the boat out this spring, thanks to ODFW, you don’t have to. A nine-to-fiver with an Oregon fishing license can fish on his/her lunch break and make it back to the office without disturbing that busy schedule. Just make sure to pack a cooler, and maybe an extra pair of shoes. At Alton Baker, what landlocked fishermen refer to as solid bank access, local birds call the bathroom … so watch where you step. Keep those lines tight, and get out there now.

Here are a few first-timer tips for eager anglers looking to hook-up.

  1. Spin to Win: #2 Blue Fox spinners work pretty well in the murky canoe canal water. Silver works best but it never hurts to go with gold. Cast so you can retrieve over the area where you think the fish are. If you are fishing in one of the narrow portions of the canal, cast your lure diagonally upstream across the current.
  2. No Set Trippin’: “Larger” trout in the canal can strike a spinner pretty aggressively. Make sure you set the hook. Don’t trip this part up. A sharp tug right after the bite is all that’s needed. The last thing you want to see is that big fish jump, spit your hook out and swim away.
  3. Bird Watching: Anglers aren’t the only ones out to catch dinner. If you are having trouble locating where the fish are in the canal, watch some of the aquatic life that feeds on them. Take it easy and let the cranes and other waterfowl do the scouting for you.
  4. Taste the Rainbow: The best part about catching trout, is eating them. There are few backwoods delicacies as rich and wonderful as smoked trout. But if you’re fishing in the canoe canal, you’re probably pretty close to home, so you can really do it up right. Here’s how— Gut and clean your fish, then cut the heads and tails off. Next, soak them over night in a large container filled with red wine, soy sauce, and just a touch of brown sugar. After the 24-hour marinade, pull out the BBQ grill. Place just a few coals in the bottom, let them get white-hot then cover them with a heap of hickory chips. Toss your fish on the grill, cover it up and let those puppies smoke. It will take an hour or so but when they’re all done, the meat will come right off of bone and you’ll want to head back to the canal.

For more information on the ODFW stocking schedule at Alton Baker Canoe Canal go to:www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/fishing/trout_stocking_schedules/2013/Southwest.pdf

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