Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Oct 04 2012 05:22 PM

Steve Merlo: Local trio still reeling in memories

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    L-R: Lonny Boller, Troy Etter and Bob Norris show off a nice catch of Gull lake trout on a recent adventure. The three local fishermen have been friends for more than 60 years.

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By The Bakersfield Californian

My friend Bill Lewis and I have been hunting and fishing together for more than 50 years. Growing up in Buttonwillow, we both found that magical solace regarding time in the outdoors and we spent a great deal of time with rod and gun exploring our own little neck of the woods. But our time pales by comparison when compared to three 70-year-old Bakersfield natives that have been fishing together since they were 10.

Lonny Boller, Troy Etter and Bob Norris met in kindergarten some 60 years ago and have remained steadfast friends. All three grew up in Oildale.

"We're 08ers," Boller said, referring to the Oildale zip code. "We grew up back when riding a bicycle with my .22 rifle across the handlebars to hunt rabbits out by the river wasn't such an unusual thing."

Boller also recalled Troy's father dropping the trio off at the Fairview Bridge each summer for a weeklong fishing adventure.

"No adults, no cars; it was just the river and three 13-or 14-year-old kids fishing and camping for seven unescorted days. It was a lot of fun and we did it several times, as I remember. That wouldn't happen today, now, would it?"

More recently, the trio just returned from an Eastern Sierra trip to Gull Lake in the June Lake Loop with plenty to brag about. Fishing from a rental boat and using night crawlers and green power bait, the trio caught limits of 1- to 3-pound trout, including at least three good-sized Alpers rainbows. Back in 2010, theey also managed to fish together in King Salmon, Alaska, where Coho salmon were the target. As usual, they caught plenty.

While growing up, none of the boys had a decent camera, so their first photo together came in 1972 with their limits of rainbow trout from Wild Horse Reservoir in Nevada.

All three were quick to point out that when reports of a hot Nevada trout bite hit the men during the evening of Troy's wedding reception, the fishermen were quick to hit the road that same night, with Troy's wife's blessing. All three were 30 at the time, adding proof of their lasting friendship of over half a century. Nowadays, they try to get out as often as they can with at least two or three trips a year to rekindle their acquaintances and catch a few trout.

"It's a testimony to the strength and character of Bob and Lonny that they could put up with me for all that time," Troy laughed when asked about their long lasting relationship. "We've lived through a lot of life together and we've got more roads behind us than ahead of us; that's for sure. But it will continue, there's no doubt about it."

Bob Norris added, "We hit it off the first time we met and it's been a close relationship ever since. We've been best of friends, always looking forward to each and every time we get to go out. Except for college and the military, we've continued the relationship straight through. Even being retired though, we find it difficult to go fishing together as often as we'd like."

API sporting clay shoot

The American Petroleum Institute's fundraising sporting clay shoot will be held today at Five Dogs Shooting Range with close to 75 five-man teams participating. While the event has been sold out to shooting teams, the general public is invited to come out and enjoy the camaraderie, barbecue, beverages and huge raffle. Numerous prizes, all valued at over $50, and at least six quality guns and a wide-screen TV will be given away. The event hosts many of the top shooters in the valley, with all proceeds going toward the organization's scholarship efforts.

Donations for the barbecue are $15 each. General raffle tickets are $5 each with "Super" raffle tickets going for $20. Shooting starts at 8 a.m., with the lunch and raffle at noon.

Know your fish limits!

Just a quick note to clarify local fish limits taken under the authority of a fishing license:

1. If you fish for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, the general statewide size limit on most lakes and reservoirs is 12 inches (mouth closed), with a five-fish limit. Local exceptions are Isabella and Success lakes, two fish 15 inches or better; Castaic Lake, two fish 18 inches or better. (There are other special state regulations on bass; check laws carefully.)

In rivers, streams, canals or lakes and ponds on private property, there is no size limit with a five-fish limit.

2. The limit on striped bass is two fish, 18 inches or better in our own Valley District, but there is no size limit in the Southern District, which includes Pyramid Lake. The limit at Pyramid Lake is 10 fish. There are exceptions, including Santa Margarita and San Antonio Lakes, so please check all regulations carefully.

3. There is no limit on catfish in the Valley District (Isabella, Buena Vista, Success, etc.), but the limit is 10 in the Southern District (Pyramid, Castaic, etc.), plus other special regulations at different lakes. Check the laws to make certain if you travel south of Kern County to fish.

4. Crappie and bluegill limit is 25 in the aggregate. For example, one could conceivably have 12 bluegills and 13 crappies, for a 25-fish limit.

5. The limit on trout is five per angler. There is no size limit on trout.

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