My knees were knocking so bad I could hardly stand up. Some guys get “buck fever” and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But fur and antlers don’t rattle me like this. Not like my first salmon.
I’ve tried for years to land one of these silver bullets. I’ve hooked them with spoons from piers. Buried stoneflies in their jaws in cold rivers. I’ve even swam downstream just to keep the line tight. Every single hookset had the same result. A busted line and a pissed off Pete.
I managed to keep this one on the line after two missile-like breeches. She splashed down like a bowling ball thrown from a bridge. Boats slowed down to watch but I didn’t look up. I was honed in. She turned next to the boat producing a silver flank flash deep in the stained river. Then put on another run. And another. Spooling out the 20 lb test like it was nothing.
My arms were floating. Like they were no longer attached to my shoulders. I didn’t want to horse her but I couldn’t back down. One mistake and she’d be gone like dozens before her.
Finally, she pulled up parallel to the boat. Dusty dipped the net and the salmon freaked. She tried to dive and buried the lure in the nylon. All she had to do was shake her head and she’d be free. I figured it was over.
Dusty reached into the water and gently pulled her up by her gills. He handed me the fish. I handed him the camera. Then I smiled like an idiot for an hour straight.
Thanks to Dan from Angling Obsession for lending me some salmon thumping gear.