The sea lion catcher

Not exactly true, but when you get ribbed for a day with something then it kind of gets stuck. Story started a few months ago, got a deal in Amazon local and booked a day fishing trip in Astoria for Salmon. So on 8/16 at 6 am I was in the East Basin Marina waiting for my guide. Really excited about going after Salmon and fishing from a boat for the first time, I was up most of the night looking at the watch too excited to sleep. The place was chock-a-block with boats and trailers, lines to enter the Marina started a long way from the entrance both ways, worth a sight in itself.

Guide gets caught in the traffic jam, and we start a little later than planned. Still, lines in water somewhere in the Washington side across the river by about 7:30 am. Start a little slowly compared to expectations, but we get bites and see people catching fish. I am a complete novice at this and my 5 partners in crime, while a lot more experienced than me; lost a little too many fish to be called very good at it with all due respect. First few bites we get, we cannot hook anything. On my first bite I fumble with the rod, completely clueless and cannot hook the fish. We move near the bridge.

Good place, my friends catch a wild Coho and a 23 inch Chinook; both are released as required. I claim that the next one would be on my rod. Get my second bite almost on cue, I manage to hook it, reel it in a little distance and lose it not too far from the boat. Total score on the boat is still zero but salmon fishing is fun. I am not the fittest chap around, the only workout I get is from lugging the laptop around and I was worried about what I will do when I hook a large fish. I am not worried any more, it's easy.

I was so wrong. Third bite follows almost immediately, and this time I really feel it. I reel in, but the fish still take line out. Guide says it's a big one, I believe him. I reel in feeling quite smug about it, taking my time because I am sure soon I'd get my limit and have to stop. Suddenly the guide shouts "Sea lion, it's going for your fish, get it in fast". I look around, I see nothing, but I try to put a zing to my reeling. Being the most used part of my body, my fingers are probably stronger than my shoulders and arms, but it does not help. Guide gets excited, urging me to hurry up. I still don't see the damn see lion.

And then I know that something was really up, I feel a pull and the line just screams out. 40 feet, 50 feet, 60 feet.. it does not stop. I am too busy to look now and I put all I have into reeling as fast as I can. It does not make a damn difference, line still screams out. Guide immediately puts on speed saying we would save my fish and we take off after the beast.

I reel as if my life depended on it. Can't swim for toffee, not at all comfortable with the wobbly boat, that does not help. Do my best to keep my dinner inside. I look at the line counter, it says 340. We keep on chasing, sea lion comfortably ahead. We get a little closer, then away it goes again. We keep playing at it at a high speed.

After some time, I do not know how long it was but it sure was not a very long time, my arms are gone. One new friend from the trip takes the rod. Bigger, and stronger than me from his looks. He does a lot better. We race towards buoy 10 in chase, I do not really know what to expect but hope that the sea lion will not jump into the boat if we get too close. After a while the line counter says 30, guide asks for the net and pronto, the next reading on the line counter is about 100. It goes up some more. My friend keeps on struggling.

And then he is spent too, he gives the rod back to me. I make a perfunctory attempt at turning the reel but I know I can't any more. The guide, I think, took pity. Anyhow he turns the line around the reel so that it won't go out and it snaps immediately. It broke the 25 lb leader, rest was saved. Guide is pissed, it never happened to him before and he is not happy to lose the first keeper fish of the day. I am really really pissed, it took my first Salmon and left me sore and winded.

Drink some water, rest for a few minutes and send a text to my wife with an update. Time is 9.37 am. We fish till 5, we get a total of 7 or 8 keeper fish on the boat, I do not get even a single bite after the one that the sea lion took. One good nibble, nothing else.

After the sea lion drama, I sit in the middle of the boat for a spell and watch the guys get fish. Rods are hot both on the bow and stern, we get some keepers, some we have to release and an equal number of missed hooking or lost fish. The I get a turn on a stern rod, suddenly that part goes quiet. We get bites and fish on the rods on the bow. Spend a couple of hours like that, then the guide suggested that I be given a place on the bow. Happy, now I'll get mine. Now the bow rods go quiet, stern rods pick-up. The guy who took my place, hooks one. Guy replaces him, hooks another. I go astern, immediately the chap who took my bow rod loses one. 5 minutes later, he gets his first one. I switch my place around, folks take pity and let me have the rods which we thing are getting more bites. I get stuffed, the rod I take goes quiet, the rod I leave gets a bite.

Salmon fishing is still fun, I'd be back again at that place next year if I am still in the states.

Here is checklist for Salmon fishing:

1. Book a slot a couple of months in advance and start dreaming about the fish
2. Get your friends to prepare for a barbecue, you'll sure get the fish so why not have someone ready too cook?
3. Surprise your wife with a hotel booking at a place she does not really want to go to
4. Buy waterproof clothing, small camera etc for your great trip
5. Leave your wife and daughter to keep themselves amused while you go fishing

1. Curse till you are blue in the mouth when you lose a fish
2. If you legally can, start sea lion hunting for an alternate hobby
3. Keep quiet while your wife expresses her unhappiness about being stuck in a strange place without a car with a hyper-active 4 year old the whole day
4. Buy a fresh Salmon for dinner on the way home


PS: I won't mind paying for gas and beer if you can give me a spot on your boat if you are going fishing.....
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nice, good fishing story. and there is always a next time.
1 nut in the water
Now that is one funny - arse story!
Laughing with you- Not at you- Like I always say- many things are hilarious when they happen to someone else..........
Great post, you had me sweating like I was there with you! You'll get 'em next time! :thumb:
Great read
Sound's like you had a good time next time will be great.
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