BROOKINGS, Ore. – Nearly two hours after his rod tip was slammed down by a giant fish, a Ferndale man landed a 54-pound king salmon on the Chetco River using a light steelhead rod and 12-pound-test line.
Brian Renner was fishing with his girlfriend Jen Anderson Dec. 11 on the Chetco with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. While there were still a few salmon in the river, they were targeting steelhead, using light rods and small plugs.
Near the rip-rap at Pete’s Place, a hole about halfway between Loeb State Park and Social Security Bar, Renner hooked the trophy king on a silver 3.5 MagLip FlatFish. The salmon immediately splashed at the surface, then held up in the middle of the hole for a few minutes before turning and heading down river. The anglers had to navigate the salmon through the logs below Pete’s Place, the pilings below Mill Creek, more logs above Moffit Rock and then the riffle that leads to the North Fork before they were able to tire the big king and bring it to the net.
“The fish was so big Brian wasn’t able to force it to the surface,” Martin said. “We saw it several times during the fight, but couldn’t get it close enough to net.”
The 7-foot, 9-inch Wright & McGill Hot Shot rod was doubled over the entire fight. With 12-pound-test mainline and leader, Martin stressed to Renner not to put too much pressure on the salmon. Several times during the fight, the line counter on the Shimano Tekota reel showed more than 130 feet of line out. Much of the fight, however, the line counter showed only 5 feet, as the fish hugged the bottom directly below the boat, out of reach of the net.
Midway through the fight, Renner thought he lost the fish as his line went slack. But the salmon had switched directions and ran straight at the boat.
The king finally began to tire in the shallow water in front of the Piling Hole, then made one final desperate run to escape, going down the riffle toward the North Fork. Martin netted the salmon midway down the riffle.
“The fight put up by the fish was unreal,” Martin said. “It just wouldn’t tire and wouldn’t give up. I kept saying we had to get it here or it would get into the logs, and then it would go downstream through logs and rocks to the next hole. It was an epic fight.”
Before landing the giant Chetco king, Renner’s biggest salmon was around 20 pounds. His girlfriend treated him to the guided trip as a birthday present.
After Renner landed the salmon, Anderson caught her first steelhead, a chrome-bright hen in front of the North Fork.
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