I don't just like to fish; I like to experiment with fishing. I also thoroughly love a challenge, so I did some IGFA record research prior to our trip and packed accordingly. I came to the Unalakleet with the intent of trying to set seven IGFA records, even with their new rule where a fish must weigh at least half of the class tippet being fished. I left the Unalakleet with four potential records--three which were vacant and breaking a previously set Pink Salmon record, which was a spontaneous opportunity merely because it was caught. Unfortunately, I could only submit three of the four applications, because the picture showing the weight of one of the fish was too blurry to interpret, regardless Cody's photography talent. I moved during the weighing photos, which caused the blurriness. Crushing, yes, but a valuable lesson learned. Of the memorable fish, there were two that were more memorable than the three submitted for verification.
On our last day of fishing, while Cody was catching his Sockeye Salmon, I had also been trying to tempt a Grayling to eat my fly tied to a class 2 kg/4 lb. tippet line. Not having any luck, I decided to switch flies, and in making that decision, I chose to pick up my other rod with a class 4 kg/8 lb. tippet line and bigger fly, one of Cody's purple and silver "Messy Dress" flies. BAM! FishOn! with two strips--a spawning-colored Coho with a nice kype at the end of my line weighing 9 pounds 6 ounces--12 ounces more than the current 4 lb. record fish! Crushed and simultaneously delighted, I just keep telling myself that with a 4 lb. class tippet, chances were pretty decent that I would not have landed that fish. Either way, I enjoyed catching it.
Taylor boated Cody and me a considerable distance upriver to target large Dolly Varden. We anchored the boat near a mid-river gravel bar and wade fished swinging streamers. I swung a nice purple-bodied, pink, bead-like head streamer tied on 1 kg/2 lb. class tippet. Several Dollies nipped at the fly, but another fish kept disturbing the Dollies, so their feeding wasn't wholeheartedly enthusiastic. Giving it one last cast and swing, I had FishOn! Taylor waded farther out to get a good look at the fish and announced it was ChumOn! OH! MY! WORD! Thank goodness, we did have a flurocarbon 16 pound shock tippet tied on, so there was hope at landing this piggy fish; unfortunately, I struggle with tying the Bimini Twist knot, so my surgeon's knot was stiffer than I wanted for a 2 lb class tippet. Fighting this fish was definitely a team effort. Cody was snapping swell pictures and offering lots of encouragement and keen advice. Taylor advised how to fight the Chum, letting him run downstream right out of the swift current. We let him run--about 100 yards in to the backing; we put just enough pressure to retrieve the line back through the guides four different times. I waded downstream with him; I bowed when he jumped. I changed angles; I had a nice, spongy two-piece rod. My drag was loose; I palmed only lightly. We played him well going on 10 minutes and were prepared to do this for as long as necessary. The Chum began tiring with the downstream runs/upstream retrieves and jumps. Just as determined as I was to land this beast, he was just as determined to get away, and so, with a spectacular thrash of his head, the class tippet broke exactly in the middle, at the 7½
much to the heartbreak of us all. The most memorable fish is the one that got away; cliché
, I know, but the truth nonetheless.
The applications that we did submit were Silver Salmon on 1 kg/ 2 lb test (the one I thought would be impossible to set), Dolly Varden on 1 kg/2 lb test, and Pink Salmon on 2 kg/4 lb test. Now, the waiting game begins.