Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The Secret of my Fishing Success
It is no secret that I enjoy fishing. . . and that I catch really big fish. But I DO have a secret fishing tip, which shall be revealed in this blog.
In 1990, the first summer we lived in Alaska, some friends took us fishing. It was nearing the end of June and the kings were running. (There are five different kinds of salmon you can catch up there: kings, reds, silvers, pinks and chum salmon; the biggest being kings). We'd loaded our gear into our friend's rust-bucket of a suburban and drove a good three hours to their "secret" fishing hole: Sunshine Creek.
In Alaska, there are stringent regulations about what, where and when you can fish. Fishing for kings in this particular area was only permitted from midnight Friday to midnight Monday. We pulled into a very crowded parking lot about 11:00 Friday night. Evidently, the secret had gotten out.
We grabbed our rods, bait, and mosquito repellent and headed for the nearest bare spot on the bank (which wasn't easy due to the combat fishing conditions that night). People were lined up practically shoulder to shoulder, with just enough room to cast without hooking your neighbor. Our friend, a professional fishing guide, showed us how to tie on our hooks, make egg loops to hold the roe (cured fish eggs), and then he demonstrated how to sharpen our hooks.
"Always sharpen your hooks and keep your rod tip up, and you'll do fine," he advised us as we hunkered down in our spots.
At the stroke of midnight, someone hollered "Fish ON!" and the insanity started. Intimidated by the aggresive fisher-folk on either side of me, I just stood and watched, hoping to pick up some helpful fishing etiquette. It was amazing to watch dozens of people cast their lines with a syncronized rhythm--Like some weird sort of fishing ballet. Not 30 seconds after the first cast hit the water, someone yelled "Fish On!" again, and this time everyone started reeling in their lines as he fought his king to shore.
After I saw the size of his fish--a good forty pounder--I decided to make my move. My first cast got caught in the brush behind me. The second ended up making a terrible bird's nest of my line. Of course, with monster fish being reeled in right and left, no one wanted to stop and help me so I muddled along the best I could. I was getting more mosquito bites than strikes.
After two hours of watching everyone on the planet but me catch fish, I was tired and fussy. It had started to rain, which REALLY brings out the mosquitoes, and all I wanted to do was just go home and go to bed. My fishing-guide friend, however, convinced me to give it one more try. He re-sharpened my hook and I took a deep breath and made my final cast.
"Lord, I'd really like to catch a fish tonight," I whined, swatting at the mosquitoes dive-bombing my face.
"Just one little fish, please?"
Before I'd said "Amen", there was a slight tap on my line and I saw my rod tip bend.
"I think you've got one," yelled my friend. "Set the hook!"
Obediently, I jerked my rod back with all my might. And then the fish jerked back!
I felt like I had Leviathan on the end of my line! The fish took off upstream and I just held on for dear life. A group of guys gathered around me and started shouting helpful advice, but no one offered to give me a hand even though I was sure my arms were being pulled from their sockets.
"You can do it!" my husband coached.
"Keep your rod tip up," nagged my friend.
I couldn't imagine how I was going to land this piece of aquatic real estate without breaking the line, so I prayed again:
"OK Lord, I hooked it. Now You've got to help me bring it in!"
And He did . . .
When people hear that I landed a 65-pound king salmon with an ultra light rod with 20 lb. test-line, they always want to know how I did it. That's akin to a miracle in fishing circles and they are plain curious about my techniques.
"Um, I prayed and the fish just swam up on shore and beached itself," I humbly reply.
And that's exactly what happened. After a spectacular 20 minute fight, that fish just plopped itself on the bank just a few yards upstream from me.
Realizing I'd landed a trophy fish, my husband decided we should have "Sam" mounted. He hangs proudly above our fireplace, but now I wish we'd kept the tangle of lures and lines that were wrapped around him as a reminder that it wasn't anything I did that landed that whale of a fish. He could have broken my line with the flip of a fin. And if truth be told (and I'm telling the truth even if this is a fish tale), "Sam" had somehow shaken free of my lure by the time we netted him!
So now you know--the secret's out. And in case you are thinking my catch was only beginner's luck, I can show you pictures of the 300 lb. sturgeon, or the 175 lb. halibut I caught.
Different fish, but the same secret technique: