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A Fish Tale

USA | Tuesday, 26 July 2011 | Views [321]

It is a good thing I am not relying on my fishing abilities for survival; I have Ramen noddles and PB&J for sustenance. But it would definitely be nice to supplement those with some fresh fish every now and then. And thanks to a stocked lake and a tip from Big G (use corn kernels) we were able to fill our bellies with Rainbow Trout caught out of Hidden Lake along the Alaska Highway for two days. But enough with that, back to the fish that got away. 

Lucky Rainbow trout: a warm up fish tale.

Fishing out of Mosquito Lake a few miles north of Haines, AK we were in a trout friendly lake so keeper size was 14" rather than the normal 11" elsewhere. I had already pulled in a nice 13" Rainbow that would have been plenty of fish for dinner, but it needed to be just an inch longer. The rest of the session was frustrating so I went for a walk. Fishing from the dock later on, I caught a beautiful Rainbow trout. It was definitely large than the last one, keeper for sure. But just then a car was backing up to the dock. I reeled it all the way in, it was tired resting motionless next to the dock. I turned to say hello to the people from the car, and just like that, the fish gave a jump and a shake and spit the hook out. Back to the lake for him. Lucky guy, that would have been a delicious dinner.

Lucky Coho/Silver salmon: the fish that got away.

Now this is the stomach-aching fish story (because I missed out on a feast). We had pulled off the Elliot Highway on our way north to the Arctic Circle just an hour out of Fairbanks or so to camp for the night. There was a nice area for camping with a stream in the 'backyard' and a river a few hundred yards down the trail. The evening fishing in the stream came up empty, but it was still a lovely setting and a good time. In the morning I took the walk to the river. I walked the river a little ways, casting here and there but not really inspired by any specific spot. I eventually came to the bridge of the highway. The bridge blocked out the light so there were no reflections off the surface, I could see everything happening under the water for that 20ft section of river. Then I spotted it, a huge fish, and size is relative, by Alaskan standards I am not sure how this one would compare. But for me, it was big. I started casting towards it as it gracefully sat in one spot, just one flick of the tail and then motionless for seemingly minutes. Then I spotted another one. Excitement was high, I could see two giant fish and it was just me on the river bank with only fifteen feet from me to the fish. It took a few tries to cast right, but finally I had a cast far enough upstream not to disturb it and the lure glided right towards its face. I could see the fish spot the lure, turn its head slightly and with two flicks of the tail gracefully snatch it. Fish on! Now I was ecstatic! I battled with the beast with fifteen feet of line out for a couple of minutes. It broke the water and few times and I would honestly say it was about 22" and probably close to 8lbs. It was a fun fight, but the whole time I was thinking 'don't lose this fish, keep tension on the line, careful, tire him out, don't lose this fish.' I eventually had it near the rocky bank, the tip of my pole was pretty much in his mouth, I couldn't reel it in anymore. It was a Coho salmon in spanning colors, which seemed a bit odd for the time of year. But man, what a beautiful fish. With it all the way at shore, I went to haul it onto the bank and with about half the body out of water the line snapped. The worst part was it took the salmon a minute to realize he was no longer on a line, the hook was still in him and he was exhausted, so it just lay there a moment. In disbelief I went to try and grab it and then it finally swam away. Wow. What a change of emotions. I was upset with myself, I know better than to pull a fish out of the water on the line, but I had 15lb test line, it surely wasn't a 15lb fish. Must have been a weak point in the line, because it broke and there went breakfast, lunch and dinner. I ran back to wake Shannon up, get him out here fishing and to construct a makeshift net. But we tried together for another hour and although we could see the monster and the nice, new shinny lure in its jaw; it wouldn't bite. Looking back I have to just smile and nod. It was a beautiful fish and an exhilarating catch. Hopefully there will be many more to come. 

Tags: fishing


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