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Roger Blackstone: Fan of fishing

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | November 21, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - There are a few variations, but a perfect day for Roger Blackstone has one constant:

Fishing.

Together with his two Weimaraners, Chili and Madison, he loves nothing more than to take his boat "Fish Whisperer" out on Lake Coeur d'Alene on a cool winter morning, drop a line and wait.

"I just love fishing. I love all the functions of being able to get out there in an area like this and just fish," he said.

And he just landed the perfect post for a man of his talents and drive - chairman of the Lake Coeur d'Alene Anglers Association.

"It's just fun to be on the water. It's fun to take over something I'm really going to enjoy doing," he said. "I'm on the water a lot, anyways."

The 1989 Coeur d'Alene High graduate takes over for Gary Thompson, who stepped down after 10 years. As vice-chairman for nearly five years, Blackstone is well prepared for leading the organization dedicated to Lake Coeur d'Alene's fishery.

The son of Mark and Linda Blackstone of Coeur d'Alene grew up with rod and reel in hand. He treasures memories of fishing with his father, such as hooking an 18-pounder off Arrow Point to win a derby on the final day.

"My dad started taking me fishing when I was young, all the lakes around here. Coeur d'Alene, Hayden, I fished for everything you can fish for, a lot of bass and pike and crappie fish when I was younger. As I got older, I started to troll," he said.

"I would ride my bike either to Fernan or when I was in high school I spent a lot of time going to Hayden, a lot of crappie fishing. Got a big fish in just about every species in the lakes that we've got around here, from mackinaw to rainbow, from bass to pike to salmon."

A disabled veteran, Blackstone served with the Marines in Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to April 1991.

"I was exposed to chemical biological weapons," he said.

As a result, he is limited in what he can do.

"I feel like I'm an old man, but my mind is still OK," he said, laughing.

"That's why fishing is something I can do," he added. "I'm not comfortable standing around, but I can always fish."

How are things going with the Lake Coeur d'Alene Anglers Association?

I think it's great. The club has superior people in it. It's a lot more than fishing. I really think we've got a great club and it won't change just because the chairman changed.

We just finished with a very successful 26th annual Big One Derby here in August. Big fish again. We had some really nice fish.

Any derby that's associated with salmon fishing, or any contest, we have something to do with it.

Anything specific you want to work on as chairman of the LCAA?

I'd like to see things grow, get people excited about fishing. Now that we've got some bigger fish, it should create some interest.

Just to keep people interested, and know there's clubs like this out there, if they're looking for something to do, or if they want to meet new friends, get out of the house, learn some new fishing techniques, come join us.

How is the fishery in Lake Coeur d'Alene these days?

We have a lot of kokanee bouncing back over the last couple of years. In working with Fish and Game, we throw ideas back and forth. They will be reducing the chinook limit from the current six fish to two fish, which will help the salmon fishing hopefully grow a little bit. We won't be fishing as hard as far as keeping them. It will be more catch and release.

We're hitting some balances now. It's been awhile since we've had any fish as big as 24 pounds, almost 10 years. To see them grow like that, back to a big size like we had in this 26th annual derby, it will be real exciting to see. We could have some 30 pounders next year.

What can anglers do to make a difference?

We can continue to monitor things with Fish and Game and do what we can as anglers. There's a lot of things that are involved, but we've got a good balance right now.

People are welcome to come to our meetings and share any ideas they have. We'll be an advocate, liaison, whatever it takes to improve the fishery.

We'd like to see a fishery where everybody can go out there and catch a fish. It's been a long time since we've seen big fish, but they're coming back.

What's the biggest fish you've caught?

Eighteen pounds. I've got an 18-pound pike, I've got an 18-pound mackinaw, I've got an 18-pound salmon, I've got a couple rainbows to the boat that were around the size, but I actually haven't netted them. I've got an 18 pounder of a few other species. I'm still trying to get over the 18-pound mark.

What do you like most about fishing?

It is so peaceful to sit and troll on days when people would think you would never be out on the water. The winter time is really my favorite fishing, just because you've got the lake to yourself, it's calm, most people you see out there are fishermen. You get to see animals walking around, you get to see eagles. It's a pretty nice experience. In the summer time it's different, but it's something I like to do year-round.

What do you consider ideal fishing conditions?

It depends on what you're fishing for. I would say a nice medium temperature day but you don't always get that. You get a lot of hot days. Those are some of the days you catch the biggest fish, as far as salmon go.

You also have the days in the wintertime when you're trolling around. You'll catch big fish then, too. You can have a good fishing day any time of the year.

Do you and your dad still fish together?

Sometimes. His handle is the Fish Assassin. Mine is Fish Whisperer. We're kind of polar opposites with some things, and our fish names kind of tell the story.

We each have our own boats, so we'll go separately, too, but stay in contact. He can run some setups on his boat and see how they're coming and I can run some on my boat and see how they're doing, we can communicate that way. Even if we're not fishing together on the same boat we're helping each other out.

Why do you have the call name of Fish Whisperer?

I came up with that. I was thinking of the Dog Whisperer, and of course the Horse Whisperer. But the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, is a man I've admired. He's a master of dogs.

My old handle was Magic before I got my new boat four years ago, because of my last name being Blackstone. And a lot of Magic. It was a hot boat, too. I had to come up with a different name, I came up with Fish Whisperer.

Where is your favorite place to fish on the lake?

It's varied at times. The biggest fish I've caught was on the north end of the lake. But the biggest fish in many years have been on the south end of the lake. I really think there's nice-sized fish all over the lake. It's just they're pretty smart. They're not the easiest fish to catch. I think that's what keeps me coming back for more, too.

Has fishing gotten easier for you the longer you're at it?

It still seems to be just about as hard, but when you catch something there's a reward there. It's never been easy. It's challenging. There's a lot of same names you see in these derbys and in our club. There's a lot of the same people right in there, and you kind of wonder what they're doing differently.

Will anglers share their secrets of fishing success?

Some will, others are pretty reluctant. I will say what maybe I'm using. It depends. If it's in the middle of a derby, probably not.

I've got thousands of hours on that lake. I don't catch them by accident or luck. It's the right presentation, finding a hungry fish.

Date of birth: Oct. 21, 1970

Education: Attended NIC, LCSC

Hobbies: Fantasy football

Favorite movie: "Forrest Gump"

Favorite book: "The Secret"

Favorite type of music: Black Happy

Favorite spectator sport: Football

Quality you admire most in a person: Honesty

Best advice you ever received: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

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