SPRAGUE RIVER — James Dyson sucked for a long time before he finally made something that didn’t suck only because — and this is important — it sucked.
Let me explain.
This man came up with the idea for a bagless vacuum in the late-1970s after becoming disillusioned with a worn-out old Hoover vacuum that used a traditional bag.
His idea to create a vacuum with no loss of suction was great, but the execution was flawed. So flawed, in fact, that he created 5,126 failed prototypes before finding the answer.
Thomas Edison is the popular spirit animal of perseverance, but only failed 1,000 times before the light came on. Dyson failed five times as much.
That sucks. At least, until it actually sucked on the 5,127th time.
After all of that struggle, Dyson’s vacuum still almost failed to reach the market. No manufacturers in the United Kingdom would touch his new product despite his best efforts to suck up to them, so he was forced to release it in Japan in 1983. The vacuum was a huge suc(k)cess, and he eventually created his own company to bring it to market in Europe and North America.
People quickly fell in love with the “no loss of suction vacuum” that gained traction nearly as effectively as it maintained suction.
Now, Sir James Dyson controls a multi-billion dollar empire that suctions up more market share than any other vacuum cleaner company.
At every opportunity, Dyson failed. He should’ve quit. He should’ve given up and admitted sometimes life sucks, and there’s nothing you can do about it, but he refused to adopt that mindset.
That, boys and girls, is why Sir James Dyson is one of my personal heroes.
If you’ve already guessed what this story is about, muse quietly and pat yourself on the back when the reveal comes, but if not, you’ll figure it out as the cord connects each of the two segments.
I’ve spent a lot of time fishing the Klamath Basin but up until about two years ago, I hadn’t caught half of the native species found in this county. At the time, I hadn’t caught any of the three native sculpins, any of the three native suckers (two of which cannot be legally targeted, but are occasionally caught incidentally), and I’d never caught the native minnow called the speckled dace.
Without intentionally targeting these small and/or elusive creatures but secretly hoping I might luck into them at some point if I was persistent enough, I’d spent hundreds of days without ever catching one, sitting on worms and keeping myself busy with trout, chubs and perch.
Then, the earth did its lap around the solar system, and it was 2016.
Historically, the Sprague River closes at the end of October with most of the other Klamath Basin trout fisheries to protect spawning redband trout, but there was one year since I started fishing where the Sprague was open. That year, 2016, afforded me an opportunity I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
The yellow perch fishing in the Sprague River is a little-known miracle in the Klamath Basin, as fish routinely range from 10- to 12-inches in length, despite being spread thin. As they are invasive species that happen to taste delicious, I usually keep Sprague perch when I catch them.
Yellow perch are fall spawners, but the peak of the perch spawn typically falls after the river closes. It just so happened that that year, the river was open to fishing and had not yet frozen over at the beginning of November, so I joined my friend Ben Fry to fish some private property right there in town.
The owners, Susanna and Harvey Luebke, allowed Ben and I to fish, and they put a pole in the water in hopes of catching fish, too.
My line sat, tight like an electrical cord, subtly vibrating with the flow of the river.
Using worms (allowed in this stretch of the Sprague) Ben caught a perch, but all I caught were small trout, ranging from 8- to 16-inches in length.
Then, my rod bent, and I realized I had something with some fight in it.
When it first jumped, I thought it was a brown trout because of the golden coloration.
When it jumped again, part of my brain registered that it was something different.
Upon the third aerial leap, I knew it was a sucker.
The fight raged on, and I finally netted the fish.
It was beautiful. Different, but beautiful.
The only sucker I’d ever caught wasn’t really mine; Dad had hooked it and let me fight it before tossing it back into Howard Prairie Lake.
A bronzed sheen shone on the fish in the waning autumn light, and after quick measurements and photographs, I let it go.
I had no idea whether it was a Lost River sucker or shortnose sucker, but I assumed it had to be one of the two, since I’d heard so much about these endangered species over the years.
Dozens of phone calls and emails finally got me in touch with David Hewitt at the U.S. Geological Survey. He shocked me with the revelation that it was neither of the two endangered species but a third, lesser-known but apparently much less threatened species called the Klamath largescale sucker. These fish are almost never captured by anglers, and he said he was quite surprised to find I’d captured it so far up the Sprague.
A few emails later, and I was even further surprised to find it was a new world record.
From there, everything happened quickly. I communicated with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and was instructed how to submit my application.
Life happened quickly until my application hit the mail, but once it did, the dust began to settle.
In the four months it took for my application to be reviewed, verified, and the species to be confirmed, I’d almost forgotten about my good fortune.
Then one day, I looked at the list of All-Tackle World Records on the IGFA website, www.igfa.org, and saw the following entry under “sucker, Klamath largescale:
Line Class: All-Tackle
Weight: 1.22 kg (2 lb 11 oz)
Location: Sprague River, Oregon, USA
Catch Date: 06-Nov-2016
Angler: Luke Ovgard”
It had happened. All of the perseverance, effort, and hard work had paid off. I was a world record holder. It wasn’t the most glamorous species, but it was still awesome.
I’d literally etched my name into the record books. I felt as though Sir James Dyson would acknowledge my suc(k)cess. That or just keep telling me to go with the flow.