May 05, 1922

Fishermen With Big Yarns Will Now Take Back Seat

Editor of the Blue Mt. Eagle:

As I gave you a cougar story sometime ago, I will now give you a fish story. It may sound a little fishy, but nevertheless, it is a true story and has to do with the early history of Grant Co., in 1864, when I was an assessor for Grant, Harney & Malheur Counties, part of Crook and Gilliam and Wheeler County were all in Grant County. I went out on the southern part of the county making the assessments, and my brother, Nate Fisk was with me on this particular trip. I took a span of gentle horses and a buckboard, as the distances were as much as 75 -80 miles apart. I took along a camp outfit and some blankets, so that we could stop wherever we wanted to. After leaving the "P" Ranch, then owned by Peter French, on the Blitzen River at the foot and west side of Stein Mtn. It was 75 miles across Catalow Valley to the Buckaroo's camp on the rim rocks near Warner Lake and as there were four of the boys going down that way, they said they thought I could make it with their help. So to cut off 20 miles, I concluded to try it. I want to tell you, my hair stood straight up when I got there and looked down several thousand feet into Warner Lake below. But the buckaroos each put a long rope on my buckboard and took a turn around their saddle horns and I started. Well, we slid for about 60 ft. in one place for it was almost straight up. Then we came to large rocks or boulders too high for the buckboard to go over, so the boys lifted first one wheel over then another for about 50 yards. Then it was pretty good going the remainder of the way down to the lake where we came into the main road again, running up on the east side of Warner Lake between the rimrocks and the lake. The rimrocks being back from the lake, from a quarter to a half mile and good going the buckaroos left us and went on up to the Anderson's stock ranch.

The lake was low as the lower end of the lake never rises until in the fall of the year as it is so long and large and a big body of water takes a long time for the water to get to the lower end.

This being in June, the grass was 12" - 14" high and thick from the lake back a quarter of a mile wide, it looked like going through a grain field. Anderson cut it for hay before the lake rises.

Now I suppose you have no doubt heard some people say they had seen it rain so hard that it rained "fish toads, bullfrogs and pitchforks," haven't you? Well I have heard people tell that long ago, so as I and my brother, Nate were going up this lake, we were about a quarter of a mile upon the hillside from the lake, we came to a place where we supposed it really had rained fish. Sure enough, as the ground was just covered with fish from 6" to 20" long lying on the hillside on dry land a quarter of a mile from the lake, where there was no sign of any water, only in the lake. A strip over 150 yards wide and as far up to the rimrocks as we could see, the fish lay all over the ground, hundreds and hundreds of them. We stopped, wondered, and looked, how those fish, so many, got away upon the hillside so far from the lake with no sign of any water. The ground perfectly dry and you could see it looked like a heavy rain had fallen about two days before, so we came to conclusion that there was no other way to account for it except it had just rained those fish.

So we believed what we had heard other people say, until we got to Mr. Anderson's cattle ranch, where we stayed all night. I was telling Mr. Anderson about hearing people say they had seen it rain fish and bullfrogs and I believed it now, since we saw what we did along the lake that day. Well, he laughed and said that it was a "typhoon" that did it. Something like a whirl wind that came along and dipped those fish up and out of the lake and carried them in the air until it ran its course, then going all to pieces, dropped the water together with the fish. The water ran back to the lake leaving the fish high and dry.

He said he had seen it once or twice before, so it might be possible that a baby typhoon came along over some of our lakes here and did the same thing and was laid to someone dynamiting them in the same way this happened.

Now as Mr. L.B. Hazeltine, my dear friend is game and fish warden and has had considerable experience in fish business, I would like for him to explain through his columns of the Blue Mt. Eagle, his opinion how those fish came there and whether they were rained there, taken up out of the lake by a typhoon whirlwind or some other phenomenon.

Remember, there was no water within a quarter of a mile where these fish were lying on the hillside, nor had not been for a long time, only wind or water carried out of the lake through the air and let loose.

This is the end of a true story.

W. Ralph Fisk

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
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