Credit: Justin Taylor
Ed bartliEn is pictured this spring holding a 1981 photo taken at Lost Lake. At right is a Hood River News clipping with the 17-pound trout he reeled in on July 23 of that year.
For Ed Bartlien, Lost Lake has a special place in his heart. Like many who have lived around here long enough, the 92-year-old has decades’ worth of fine memories locked away, of fishing, camping, picnicking and enjoying the picturesque mountain lake that has long been a jewel of Hood River County.
And among those memories, one stands out for Bartlien, and for the history books.
A July 23, 1981 Hood River News story titled, “Record trout hauled in” describes a fishing trip more than 30 years ago in which Bartlein reeled in a 14-pound, 31.75 inch rainbow trout a stone’s throw from the lodge and boat dock.
“He may have a hard time convncning young ones of it a few years down the road,” the article reads, “but Bartlein – on one of his first-ever fishing trips – hooked a record trout after only a half an hour on the lake.”
According to then-manager Ernie Smith, the lunker was the biggest fish he’d seen come out of the lake in his many years at the lodge.
Although he doesn’t drive himself any more, Bartlein makes a point of visiting the lake every year.
“I went up this year and met the new owner at the lodge,” he said this week from his Eugene Street home. “We were talking and I told him who I was and that I was in a picture that used to be hanging in the lodge with me and the record fish. He said he knew exactly what I was talking about and came back with the photo.”
The resort’s new co-owner, Jason Taylor, snapped a photo of Bartlien holding the framed photo of him holding the massive trout alongside a little boy.
“The boy was there with his dad,” Bartlien explained. “We were the only two boats there that day and I was with my friend. I helped the little boy into his boat and then we went out on the lake. We had just barely started fishing. I was trolling with a lure and my friend was rowing. I felt a bite and started reeling it in. What’s crazy is that when the fish was almost in the boat it flopped and got free. It hit its head on the side of the boat and landed in the water a little stunned. We saw the size of the fish and my friend dove in the lake after it.”
Back at the dock, Bartlien was happy to oblige the young boy by posing for a photo with him, next to the trout that was nearly his size. The fish tale doesn’t end here. After snapping a few proud photos and getting the story to the local paper, the plan was to have the fish stuffed by a friend as a trophy to hang on the wall. His friend, apparently, knew how to do it, so he took the fish.
Sadly, Bartlien explains, the friend’s wife didn’t get the memo. “He didn’t tell her what the plan was and before we had a chance she had cut into it and cut the head off. Boy oh boy, there was some heat on that one.”
Bartlien is a veteran of WWII, where he served for seven years as Jungleer – an Army infrantry division know for waging fierce offensives in the jungles of the Pacific. He says he still makes it to Lost Lake a few times a year to fish, although he doesn’t expect to haul-in anything quite like his 1981 trophy trout.