A 30 lbs salmon caught by Will; the biggest of his life.

The Biggest Salmon of My LIFE!

In 30+ years of fishing, my goal has never been to chase a personal best or go after a trophy fish. I enjoy the moment, learning to be a better angler each day on the water and creating new memories. And if a personal best fish happens, then it will happen.On a beautiful spring day, I joined up for some spring chinook salmon fishing with guide Josiah Darr of JDarr fishing, Tony Amato of Salmon – Trout – Steelheader magazine, and avid fisherman John Jegosh. Now I never set expectations when it comes to springer fishing because one day you can be a zero and the next day you can be a hero.We head out right at sunrise, getting lines in the water just light enough to see the high-vis line coming off the rods. No takedowns on the first couple of passes. Then we hook up on the back rod, and John lands a beautiful hatchery springer. On the board! Always a good feeling to get the skunk out of the boat.A few hours later, I move to the middle rod on the port side, just give the reel a slight crank, when a springer starts to chew my bait. I wait to pick the rod out of the holder, then it’s game on. After fighting the salmon for about 10 seconds, I feel a ‘pop.’ I lost the springer. My heart sinks. It’s not my fault, but I feel horrible. What if that’s my only chance? I feel like a zero. We keep fishing.It’s early afternoon. The sun is gleaming on the water. Today is one of the Portland’s warmest days of the year. The water is off-color, so the sun will help shine off the Yakima Bait fish flash and the herring we are running.We wait for a barge to pass by as we make one of our final passes. I slightly adjust the line on my front rod so the weight doesn’t bounce on the bottom. Then, the biggest takedown I have seen. I get the rod out of the rod holder. The fish is staying down in the water. Could it be a sturgeon? It finally makes it to the surface. All I see is the tail and it’s huge. This is a giant chinook. Here we go. I fight the chinook salmon for 5 minutes. It feels like an eternity. We get the chinook back close to the boat. The salmon takes off again, peeling 30 feet of line out. It must have seen the net. Keep reeling slowing. I have 0 back on the line counter, so I slowly lift up. The springer surfaces on his side. Josiah and I are talking back and forth. I’m inching the rod up super slowly to give him a clean shot at netting this giant. Boom! In the net! The four of us are stunned. Has anyone ever seen a springer that big in person before? Josiah can’t believe it, “that’s a 30lber all day. It’s over 40 inches long.” It’s a pig, an absolutely giant. I take a look at the wild chinook in the net, and it’s huge. A personal best and biggest salmon of my life. A 30lb+ wild chinook salmon.We take some video of the chinook salmon in the net, but avoid holding the springer out of water for photos. We all decided to get this salmon back in the water as quickly as possible, get him back in the river to spawn. Protect the fish and ensure he can get to the spawning grounds. Those genetics will hopefully create a bunch of 20lb+ salmon.Josiah moves the chinook out of the net into the water. The salmon splashes him as he kicks out and goes on his way. I’m stunned. A loss of words. The entire boat is stunned. We high five with big smiles and grins on our faces. What just happened? An experience of a lifetime. A salmon fight to remember. Yes, it was a 30lber and my personal best. But, I went from a zero to a hero in the same day. And built a memory the 4 of us will remember and have forever.

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