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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002




Hog brown goal of ice fishing clan

Tall tales, fish, jokes and cigars say it all

Express Staff Writer

All an angler needs, if he isn’t catching any fish, is to light up a cigar.

Clif Barnard, right, pulls a German brown trout to the surface, while Harry Levitan waits to net the fish. In the background, John McClatchy watches the action. The fish came up tail first because it had wound itself around Barnard’s line. Express photo by Willy Cook

Or so Harry Levitan said one clear and windless Sunday afternoon at a secret fishing spot at Magic Reservoir.

Levitan and his brother Archie, John McClatchy, Mark Geske, Clif Barnard and Delfin Ordaz were doing just fine catching perch, but they were all wanting the "hog brown," or large German brown trout, they knew was beneath the ice.

The day before, the fishermen caught four of the trout. One of them, caught by Harry, weighed 5¼ pounds.

They also caught about 200 perch, but they weren’t focused on perch. It seems four hog browns trump any number of perch.

So, cigars were passed all around, courtesy of Archie, and in a few minutes the stogies did their trick.

Barnard, who had driven up from his home in Eden, caught a 24-inch, 3½-pound German brown, the largest catch of the day.

Barnard was all smiles.

"Before today, I never met any of these guys," he said. It was his first time to the fishing hole.

He almost lost the fish too. It came up tail first, and just as Barnard brought it above the surface, the hook fell out.

Fortunately, for Barnard, the fish had wrapped the line around itself several times, and Harry was waiting to catch hold of it.

A little before Barnard caught his brown, Harry was telling his ice fishing joke.

These two guys go ice fishing. As one of them starts to chop a hole in the ice, a booming voice comes out of nowhere and says, "There are no fish under the ice."

Paying the voice no mind, the other guy starts chopping where his buddy left off.

Before long, the booming voice comes back.

"I told you, there are no fish under the ice."

The fellow chopping looks up and asks, "Is that you God?"

The booming voice answers, "No, this is the ice rink manager."

Conversation then turned to bait.

Barnard caught his brown using perch eyeballs.

Ordaz, who had been using mealy bugs on a Kastmaster lure, changed to eyeballs.

Archie said perch eyeballs are great bait, not just because fish hit them, but because an angler can catch more than one fish with the same eyeball.

Archie Levitan was hooking the perch one right after the other from under the ice at Magic Reservoir on Sunday afternoon. Here he pulls one more to throw on the pile in front of him. Express photo by Willy Cook


Before the day was out, he was claiming he had caught 20 perch using the same eyeball.

Then someone asked, "What do you call a perch that hits a perch eyeball?"

"A can-eye-ball."

And so the banter went on as they caught fish, mostly perch, standing above nine feet of water on six inches of ice.

"I caught a 23-inch rainbow trout one time," Harry said. "I found a 10-inch rainbow and some mink or weasel fur inside him. That was one busy fish."

After awhile he said, "Some people think we’re absolutely crazy to go ice fishing.

"But, like my brother Archie put it, you never get tired with the ‘thump’ of a fish hitting your line."

Ordaz agreed.

"After you’ve hooked one big fish, you’re hooked."

"Camaraderie," Archie said. "That’s why we’re here. Beer, cigars and fish. It gets no better."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.