February 27, 2009
The Big Pull: Record Steelhead?
By Tim Romano
You are looking at what might be one of the largest steelhead ever caught on a fly. It almost certainly will be an IGFA record for 8kg tippet if verified.
After scrolling through my inbox yesterday I had one with a subject line that read, "wanna see a really big steelhead?" Turns out Mr. Peter Harrison caught the slug on the Hoh river in Washington state just last Friday. He was fishing a double handed rod, swinging flies. Apparently after a long drawn out battle he brought the fish to shore only to find out it was bleeding profusely from the gills.
Mr. Harrison stated, "My intention was to let it go, having first measured the fish, but it was bleeding quite heavily from the gills. As it seemed likely not survive the ordeal, and because it was the fish of a lifetime, I decided to take the fish. In 10 years of fishing Washington state rivers this is the first fish I have ever taken, of any kind, from a river."
On the bank a couple of boats pulled up and the measured the fish. One said 31 pounds. One 32 pounds. Hours later they managed to get it to a certified scale and by then it had lost fluids and blood. It read 29.5 pounds, still seemingly breaking a record set 24 years ago on the Skeena in BC.
After it was all said and done Mr Harrison wrote to the blog (The Big Pull) where his email was first published.
"I certainly have bittersweet emotions. The elation of hooking a giant fish and beaching it but real trauma and actual stress about killing the fish. I am still upset at that part, believe you me I did not do it lightly. Emotionally I am scarred, I still have knot in my stomach over the whole incident. That has led me to ask myself the question: isn’t it time that all wild steelhead be released? After all, if they lived long enough, and evaded seals, net’s and hooks, all those smaller wild steelhead that are killed each week, would stand a good chance of growing up to be a large size too."
If true, I say good on ya mate. You did your best. You were throwing flies. You wanted to release the fish and you actually gave some thought to it.
What would you do? Pursue an IGFA record or leave the fish in the river where some say it belongs.