The steelhead pictured at left was quite a catch. Weighing around 18 pounds and caught late at night on a backtrolled Hot Lips, it was a quite a challenge just to get this picture.
After trolling for hours looking for a monster walleye in the Columbia River below McNary Dam in October of 98, I got a hit. I knew right away it was no ordinary fish from KeFishing. My pole bent abruptly but my fireline proved up to the task. After wrestling with this fish for a while I finally got it close to the boat and realized its size.
I then turned to the console and flipped the switch to fill my rear holding tank. After a few seconds of filling the boat went black. It was nearly midnight on a moonless night. As the current pulled me towards the shore I grappled for my net. The fish was not at all ready to climb into the net and it was a challenge getting him landed. Did I say I was alone? Well holding a powerful fish like this with your left arm and trying to get him into the net with your right, in pitch black and Columbia River current is pretty darn exciting. Well anyway I somehow got him into the boat. My live-well had somehow blown a fuse so I then frantically searched for a flashlight and a spare fuse.
I got it replaced and continued to fill the live well. By the time I tried to get the fish into the well he looked pretty poorly. Unfortunately I realized that the fish was to big for my rear live well. I then began filling my front live well. I moved the salmon to the front well and found him to be on the brink of death. I was sad. This was truly a beautiful fish. Finally it all settled down and after about an hour this tough customer was ready to get out of the live well. He had totally recovered from his capture. Now I had to weigh him and get a picture. I propped my camera on the seat mount on the rear of my Smoker and grabbed this bruiser for a shot.
He of course did not want his picture taken. I won the battle but he was once again worn out and looked like he had had it. But after about a half hour he was ready to get out of the live well once again. By the time I released him he was 100%. I bent over the side of the boat with him craddled in my arms and gently lowered him into the cold water of the Columbia. He moved slowly out of my grasp, rolled a little on his side, gave me a wink with his cold steely eye and sped off silently into the depths. A salmon is surely a most awesome fish.