Monday, December 19, 2011

"Rasslin" with Salmon

In this corner, weighing in at 25 to 30 lbs. fresh from the Pacific ocean...the champion of anadromous salmonids...Oncorhynchus tshawytscha AKA King Salmon!!!!!
and in this corner, weighing in at TOO DAMN MUCH,the stumbling angler....AKA Dumb Ass!!!!!
As Michael Buffer would say "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE"
Yes that is what it seemed like as I struggled to help my friend land his very first fall Chinook salmon on an Oregon coastal river a few weeks ago.
The river was running pretty high when John hooked this brute on what amounted to steelhead tackle. John fought the strong flow as much as the fish and with the river being so high there was little if any room on the bank for him beach this big fish.
I coached him along as he played give and take with the fish ever fearful that his light tackle would fail him.
After what seemed like an hour (more like 10 minutes) the fish was ready to come in. With no bank to slide the salmon up on, it was up to me to land John's fish so he could stay on his girlfriend's good side and play hunter/gatherer bringing home some fresh meat. All of John's future fishing trips rested on my shoulders as I positioned myself to "pin" this fish. Well what happened next would have been an excellent submission to the funniest home videos show but thank God no one was filming. I pounced on this salmon and he was not quite ready to surrender! With his broad tail he scooped up a big finful of sand and mud and threw it right into my face.Pissed off now, I grabbed this slimy bastard with both hands as he and I "rassled" in the shallow water with me taking on water in my waders from the thrashing about. Since John did not have a salmon club to beat the fish senseless I directed him to take a thick piece of shoreline drift wood and bonk the big fighter. Fortunately that worked and his prize was harvested.
I was very happy for John as I brushed sand and grit off of my face and out of my mouth. He had gotten his first fall Chinook and peace would reign in his home.
But wait!!! A few minutes later I hooked a very acrobatic winter steelhead that actually did kick my ass! As I was thinking about how I would be cooking this 10 lb. or so hatchery fish he jumped one more time, spitting the gear which smacked me right in the was a knock out and all I went home with was a fat lip and a gritty taste in my mouth.

Many thanks go to "Al Baker" for encouraging me to capture this epic moment of angling technique for all of posterity....Merry Christmas to all

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