How to Sink a Jet Boat

Gremlins in Hiding

Story and Photos by John O’Bryan

When I moved to Idaho in 1984, I was sure I would find places to fish but the only fish I found were tiny ones, like the kind I would snag under the dock in Ketchikan and use as bait to catch salmon and halibut. After months of searching I gave up, sold all my fishing gear, got married and had kids, all thoughts of fishing driven from my mind by work, children, and the desire to rest when I had a moment to myself. Being married to Kelly is so much better than fishing, but having kids, well, let’s just say they’re lucky I didn’t meet my fishing partner Dave prior to their births.

I underwent three decades of lost fishing years in the Idaho Panhandle. It’s incredibly sad that it took me so long to realize that just forty miles south, a river teemed with monster fish. I really had no idea, and when Dave first asked if I wanted to float a section of the Clearwater River in his drift boat, I was reluctant and a bit skeptical.

A float in a boat sounded nice, but it would be nothing like Alaskan fishing and I had no desire to spend the day reeling in tiny “keepers” only to have to clean an anemic stringer of puny fish when we ground to shore at the boat ramp. But he kept hounding me until I reluctantly gave in.

The hour-long trip to the boat launch was filled with good conversation about life, family, and fishing, but I asked so many questions about the river that I think Dave may have regretted his decision to invite me. He backed the boat down the ramp, off the trailer, and into the current. In a few minutes the lines were in the water while the boat backed slowly downriver. The rhythmic pulsating of the rods as our large lures danced under the water gave me hope that things might be different than I expected.

The day was cold and the sun offered little warmth, but lent a crisp, golden glow to the crystal-clear water and a shimmer to the trees just turning autumn yellow and red. I was mesmerized by a kind of beauty I had never experienced. Then the pole buried itself in the water, Dave shouted, “Fish on!” and all heck broke loose.

This content is available for purchase. Please select from available options.
Register & Purchase  Purchase Only
John O'Bryan

About John O'Bryan

John O'Bryan was born in southeastern Alaska, moved to Moscow in 1984 to attend the University of Idaho, and never left. He is a husband, dad, granddad, photographer, and fly fisherman—in that order. John can often be found with a camera around his neck, or chasing steelhead on the Clearwater River, or fly fishing Idaho’s blue-ribbon trout streams.

7 Responses to How to Sink a Jet Boat

  1. Peg Bowen - Reply


    I love the humor in John O’Bryan’s stories. His imagery makes me feel like I am right there with him!

  2. Sue Kingston - Reply


    Awesome John! I’m jealous.

  3. Anne kemp - Reply


    Thanks for taking us along, John!
    Love this one

  4. John O'Bryan - Reply


    Thank you, Peg!
    You come next time, Sue!

  5. John O'Bryan - Reply


    Thanks Anne!

  6. Bob - Reply


    Another great read by John O’Bryan. This guy sure likes the rivers…or sort of likes the rivers…but I think, overall, yes, for sure he likes them. Maybe?? Can’t wait for the one when he hits the deadhead and has to swim for it.

    • John - Reply


      Haha. Thanks Bob!

Leave a Comment

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