Steelheading MacGyver

7:00AM on the Sky, ice on my eyelets. After 3 casts on my 8 WT, a steelhead takes off for Ben Howard. 10 minutes later, coming to the end of my backing, I start to panic. The terrain prevents me from chasing the fish, so it was time to get inventive. I breakout my backup reel (7wt) and tie the end of the line to the seat of the reel Im fighing with. Here goes nothing! I drop the eight in , and fight another 5 minutes, finally tiring the fish. I reel back the 8 and the spend another 3 minutes reeling in the fish. This trick isnt for the novice. What a day!

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Did I just read that you dropped your ENTIRE 8 wt. rig in and fought the steelie handlining from your 7wt backup reel with your 8wt rig in between getting thrashed about by the fish??? What confidence! What panache! MacGyver would be humbled. Jimbo :THUMBSUP


Banned or Parked
I'd like to think that such craftiness would entail building a custom 8wt rod with opening guides for such occasions. That way the reel and line could be removed from the rod, tossed in the river, and the replacement reel attached to the rod.
Hmmmm . . . I think I've heard this story before except it was a chinook salmon in Sitka Alaska this summer. Here's the story from the Seattle Times Sept. 1, 2002:

In Sitka, Alaska, a late-summer king salmon is considered a bonus for anglers to catch.

On Aug. 20, Kevin McNamee, a captain with Island View Charters, and his five clients from Minnesota not only got a treat, but a big one at that off Point Amelia.

At around 7:30 a.m., Jay Alfers from Warren, Minn., hooked a king just off the bottom in 160 feet of water, the first in his life.

"When he (Alfers) first hooked it, we knew it was a king because it came upward and started going out away from the boat, and the fish kept going and going," McNamee said. "Since we were anchor mooching, you cannot just pick up the anchor and chase the fish."

The king continued to pull more line off Alfer's Penn International 975 reel, which holds about 200 yards of 30-pound-test fishing line.

"I was getting worried and the line was running out fast on the reel," McNamee said. "I was thinking through my head about what to do."

Luckily there were only a few sport boats and no commercial trollers around, so the likelihood of snagging with someone else was minimal.

"I was waiting for the salmon to stop, and when the reel got down to about 50 or 60 feet of line, I grabbed one of my halibut poles and got it ready to hook onto the salmon reel," McNamee said.

McNamee planned to attach the halibut swivel clip to the cross members of the salmon reel where you rest your thumb.

"When the salmon reel got down to 10 or 15 feet of line, I told him (Alfers) to throw the G-Loomis rod and Penn reel overboard," McNamee said. "The client looked at me goofy, like I was crazy."

The king salmon peeled off another 300 feet of line off the halibut reel, then finally came to a stop.

McNamee was praying the knot tied to the salmon reel wouldn't come undone as they slowly regained line on the halibut pole.

Once the salmon rod and reel reappeared on the surface, McNamee noticed there was only one wrap of line left on the salmon spool. McNamee's deckhand, John Nelson, reached down and picked up the salmon rod from the water, and Alfers once again began fighting the king.

It took Alfers a good 55 minutes as the king ran around the boat twice. At the time they didn't know if it was snagged, but the king continued to stay down deep in the murky water.

"At that point we thought OK, the king must be 50 pounds-plus," McNamee said. "After some more muscling we had the fish about 25 to 30 feet off the boat, and it was thrashing like crazy. I could hear the teeth snapping on the line, and that is when my deckhand said it was bigger than 50 pounds."

The king then ran around the boat one more time in a desperate attempt to get away.

"My deckhand finally netted the king, and it was so big that it was hanging out of the net," McNamee said. "It was a very exciting moment. The motors were blocking Alfers' view, so I don't think he realized what he caught until the fish hit the deck of the boat."

McNamee, a resident of Sitka, who has been a guide for more than 10 years, says he doesn't know of any king landed by a sport angler bigger than the one he witnessed.

"I've caught some 60-pound kings, but this one weighed 75 pounds and was 52 inches long," McNamee said. "I was grunting trying to hold the fish up."

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