Sportsman stays busy fishing, helping state with wildlife laws

Minnehaha man says he’s a 12-months-a-year fisherman

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

Published:

 

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Lyle Cabe of Vancouver started his career as a clerk-typist in the Oregon Air National Guard and finished as a colonel and wing commander flying F-15 fighter jets.

He started his passion for the outdoors roaming what’s now the Minnehaha neighborhood shooting pheasants and ducks and catching fish in the local ponds.

And to those who think he now fishes every day — he doesn’t.

“I go no more than three days a week,’’ said Cabe, 67, still living in Minnehaha with his wife, Barbara.

Cabe is as home-grown a Southwest Washington sportsman as they come.

He attended Minnehaha Elementary, Lewis Junior High, Hudson’s Bay High and Clark College before graduating from George Fox University.

He fishes in the Columbia, East Fork Lewis, North Fork Lewis, Kalama, Washougal, Klickitat, Wind, Elochoman, Grays, Nemah, Naselle and Willapa rivers plus Multnomah Channel and Drano Lake.

It helps that he owns a 19-foot jet sled, a drift boat and a pontoon boat.

“I’m a river guy,’’ said Cabe. “I love rivers, I love flowing water. I enjoy fishing and I enjoy getting out there and seeing the sunrise, the leaves in fall, just enjoying God’s creation.’’

Cabe’s also a longtime sport-fishing activist.

He was president of the Vancouver chapter of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders from 1984 through 1986. He’s a member of Southwest Washington Anglers and the Southwest Washington chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association.

“In the long run, CCA is the best thing that has happened in Western Washington,’’ Cabe said. “If it wasn’t for CCA, the new policy for the Columbia River would not have happened. ... The commercials will get up there and say stuff that is blatantly not true.’’

He is in his second three-year stint on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s law enforcement advisory group. The role includes helping make wildlife laws enforceable and serving as a liaison between the enforcement division and sportsmen.

The liaison role included explaining the change to barbless hooks in 2013.

“Try that if you want to see some people get worked up,’’ he said.

Cabe used to hunt birds in what are Minnehaha subdivisions now.

“My neighbor and I, when we were in high school, we’d come home, grab our shotguns and we’d roam this whole area hunting pheasants and a couple of ponds for ducks,’’ he said. “Of course, that’s 50 years ago.’’

Cabe has given up hunting and given away his decoys but still has his Model 12 Winchester shotgun.

He’s a serious fisherman now — 12 months a year.

January finds him in his jet sled on the North Fork of the Lewis for steelhead, or maybe bank fishing in the East Fork of the Lewis or Kalama. Same for February, although with less intensity.

March kicks off the first of his two passions — spring chinook salmon fishing in the Columbia River.

“I’m a pretty standard flasher-and-brined-herring guy,’’ he said. “I probably get started way too early. I’ll make a trip or two in early March, even sometimes in February.’’

He fishes the lower Columbia as much as possible in March and April. Then he moves to Multnomah Channel, Wind River or Drano Lake after the Columbia closes.

Cabe said the ‘’combat fishing’’ conditions at Wind and Drano do not faze him.

“I don’t mind bumper boats,’’ he said. “I can fish tight and close with other people, as long as we are all having fun.’’

Cabe said he fishes for steelhead some in June and July but backs off a bit to accomplish yard work and have some family time.

Early to mid-August is Buoy 10 salmon-fishing time, then late August kicks off his second passion — bobber fishing for salmon.

He’ll fish several lower Columbia tributaries plus others flowing into Willapa Bay between late August and January.

“I carry two poles with me, one for bobber fishing and the other has a spinner or a wobbler,’’ Cabe said. “If you’ve got overhanging trees on the other side, and you can’t get a bobber in there, you can fling a spinner or wobbler. The trouble is trying to remember where I put the other pole.’’

While angling is Cabe’s passion, it almost killed him seven years ago.

His railing-mounted seat where he sits while steering his trolling motor broke in March 2007 at Clifton Channel near Cathlamet. Cabe did a backward head dive into the Columbia.

It was 34 degrees outside. Cabe was dressed for 34 degrees. He had no life jacket on.

His heavy clothing immediately soaked up the water. Suddenly, he was 6 feet down in the river.

“I could see the sun up there through the yellowish-brown water and I thought ‘I don’t think I can get back there,’’’ he said. “I had to use every once of effort in my body just to get my nose above that water.’’

It was a lesson learned. He never goes afloat now without a life jacket.

“I’m amazed at how little it takes to put you into a life-threatening survival situation. I’m a lot more careful now.’’

Lyle Cabe

Lyle Cabe, a lifelong resident of Clark County and sportsman, shares his passion for fishing and the great Northwest.