One of my favorite movies is “The Princess Bride”, a very fun film featuring a great cast of actors, one of whom was Mandy Patinkin who played the part of a Spanish swordsman named Inigo Montoya. Montoya was dedicated to seeking revenge on “the man with six fingers” who killed his father in front of Inigo when he was a child. At one point during the movie Inigo sinks to a low point and utters while inebriated, “You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have!”
The phrase is an apt description of where my outdoors life has taken me for the next chapter of my life. I have lived in the Wenatchee Valley for 31 years and have loved being here and making the friends I have during this time. However, a divorce resulted in the sale of our home in Cashmere and the question became, “Where do I go next?”
When I first moved to the Valley, I loved to fish the Wenatchee River and lower Entiat River for stocked rainbow trout as well as the Wenatchee and Methow Rivers for summer steelhead. Unfortunately, those opportunities faded away years ago leaving only limited options for stream fishing in the area, something I love to do.
Being an outdoors writer and a radio broadcaster who works from home, I realized I had the opportunity to go anywhere I wanted as long as there was landline phone service and good internet service. With that in mind I set my sights on a specific spot in Grant County I was introduced to as a kid. It’s a place I’ve fallen in love with and find myself returning to multiple times a year. Specifically, it’s the small, unnamed community around MarDon Resort and Potholes State Park at the south end of Potholes Reservoir, a 27,000-acre impoundment located between Othello and Moses Lake.
When my family moved to Washington State my father took me hunting at the north end of the reservoir in an area known as the Sand Dunes. We camped overnight at the state park and then drove through the dark to a gate and hiked along a series of small ponds surrounded by cattails or small trees and sand dunes to the place where we built a rudimentary blind. I was shooting a single shot .410-gauge shotgun that was the first shotgun my father ever owned and somehow, I managed to shoot three green-wing teal on that inaugural hunt. Thirty years later, I took my son out to this same area for his first youth hunt, accompanied by our yellow lab Sage, and treasure the memory of my son’s first harvested duck.
In between those hunts my father and brother and I would trek out into the sand dunes every Opening Day. Despite the multiple trips, it was still easy to get turned around in this area at night but the lights of the homes above MarDon Resort to the south of us became a navigational waypoint for us.
My father eventually aged out of the sport of duck hunting and my brother stopped coming too but my best friend Rusty Johnston and I also made memories starting in the early 1990’s. We would first come out and camp in the sand dunes area itself and eventually began packing small boats and motoring into another part of the sand dunes below the Job Corps Dike of the Reservoir where we would camp, fish and hunt for three days.
During this time, we got to discover just how good the fishing could be and we were soon hooked on taking our small boats to Potholes Reservoir where we caught everything from bass to walleye to trout, panfish and more. Countless times Rusty and I would gaze towards the lights of MarDon and dreamily wish we could live there.
Back in 2012, Rusty made that dream come true. He and his wife Lisa moved onto the resort and managed the restaurant for a couple of years. Now, Rusty lives adjacent to the state park with his wife and works as a supervisor at the Lowe’s Hardware Store in Moses Lake.
A year and a half ago, the two of us made the decision to buy a bass boat together. It’s stored at Rusty’s shop and I found myself making the drive over to see Rusty and go either fishing and hunting once or twice a month.
With all of that fishing and hunting history in mind, it wasn’t hard to figure out where my next move would take me. And that’s where I am now, having completed the sale of our house and the purchase of my new one, which sits right across the road from Potholes State Park and on a golf course no less. I guess that means I’ll have to learn how to golf now too. I’m in no hurry though, Between the fishing, the hunting, the wildlife watching and visiting the friends I’ve come to know here over the years, learning how to golf is definitely not my top priority.
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
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