This summer, I finally got to meet Steve Wozniak. The man who’d long been an inspiration to me and others like me was not what I was expecting. Sure, he’s a big-time executive, he’s traveled the world, and he’s arguably changed his field as much as anyone in modern times, but he wasn’t what I was expecting at all.
Many folks have probably sat in front of their phone or computer marveling at what he’s helped to accomplish, so it was hard to solidify the concept that I’d be meeting him.
When he first met me on the side of the lake, I was killing time fishing for chubs. He drove up, parked on the shoulder and got out of the car, extending a hand and walking toward me with a friendly, “Dude!”
I’d just met Mr. Wozniak. The Woz. But he told me to call him Steve.
Late in 2016, I grabbed my (Apple) iPhone and began to write an email.
This Steve Wozniak was not the one who co-founded Apple, but I had you going, didn’t I?
No, this one had a much larger impact on human history than some tech guru. This Steve Wozniak was the first angler to catch 1,000 species of fish in world history. He will likely be the first to reach 2,000 species, too, and he currently sits at 1,827. Yes, you read that right.
When I sent that email late in 2016, I realized I’d caught my first International Game Fish Association (IGFA) All-Tackle World Record in the Klamath largescale sucker, and after reading Steve’s blog 1000fish.wordpress.com, for years, I knew that the man with more All-Tackle World Records in the books than all but three other anglers — 187 (eight currently pending) — would know how to proceed.
He replied to my email and helped me out.
Moving forward, we stayed in touch, and I promised I could help him add a few new species if he could ever make it up to Klamath Falls.
Time passed, and he eventually took me up on that offer.
The Klamath Basin is home to a total of 12 native species. Two are critically endangered (Lost River and shortnose sucker), and two are relatively common (rainbow trout and tui chub), so that left us a handful of others to target.
Our focus was on our three native sculpins (Klamath Lake sculpin, marbled sculpin, and slender sculpin), as well as the blue chub, a fish found only in the Klamath Basin.
We vowed to chase trout if and when given the opportunity — especially because his fishing buddy on that trip, Mark Spellman, found the idea of a trophy trout more appealing than a bunch of tiny fish. Go figure.
Steve got the blue chub out of the way in a matter of minutes, and we decided to move to the lake to fish for trophy trout at sunset.
We got to one of my favorite locations along the lakeshore, and I told Mark to throw his swimbait where my brother, Jake, had landed a nice fish a few nights before. Half a dozen casts later, Mark had hooked into a monster.
He fought the fish well, and I netted it.
It was impressive, measuring 28 and one-half inches and weighing in at 9.25 pounds. It was the largest fish I saw caught from shore this year. Not bad for a first fish.
That night, we focused on sculpins. Everyone caught the slender sculpin with relative ease, but the more skittish Klamath Lake and marbled sculpins proved more difficult. We never saw the former and found just one of the latter.
We hopped around to a few spots before calling it and heading to Denny’s for a meal around one in the morning. Greasy eggs have never tasted so good.
The next day we tried to mix things up, but the bite was slow. Mark and I broke away to fish for trout awhile and left Steve to soak a worm and hope for the best.
It didn’t go as well as we’d hoped, but Mark and I tallied a few trout.
After stopping downtown for some frozen yogurt, Mark and I went to our rendezvous point.
When Steve found out fathead minnows were present in the Klamath Basin, we shifted gears. Steve hadn’t caught one of those yet.
I’d seen them all over the place, but we struggled to find the non-native cyprinid all afternoon.
Day 2 wasn’t as successful as we’d hoped, and we called it a night early because we realized finding a marbled sculpin in the too-high waters of the Link River as I’d done weeks before was unlikely.
Steve treated us to pizza, and we unwound with fishing stories as we closed down the restaurant.
Our final day found us on the lakeshore throwing lures for the massive trout that live nearby. We hooked into several, including two very impressive seven-plus-pounders, but no fish came to net.
It was then that Steve decided he wanted to try for fathead minnows to add one more species before the return trip.
I’d seen them all over that side of the lake, and we began looking for them, hopping from access point to access point.
It wasn’t until we arrived at the last spot with less than a 30-minute window remaining that Steve pulled in a fathead minnow. It was a spawning male, and the distinctive look of this naturalized invasive made for a great photo.
We parted ways, and I was humbled by the tenor of that weekend: I’d just fished with one of the greatest anglers of all time. My head swelled just enough to bear a passing resemblance to the fathead minnow we’d ended the weekend with.