Any experienced angler knows that salmon fishing isn’t just a waiting game, but also a contest of strength. After all, the world record king salmon, which was caught in Alaska in 1985, weighed a whopping 97 pounds. Just ask Arlyn Tietz of Lewiston, Idaho, who recently went fishing on the Clearwater River, about how tough salmon can be.
Leaving one of his three rods held down by a tackle box, he waited and watched. Soon enough, he heard a rattle, looked out, and saw a salmon rolling and thrashing on the river’s surface, which is when it happened.
“The next thing I know my pole is going through the water like a torpedo,” he said. “I was just dumbfounded.”
Initially, Tietz figured the rod was gone, lost forever, and he came to accept the fact that he’d have to simply have to buy a new one at a sporting goods store to replace the one his aquatic archenemy had stolen from him. However, he’d soon find out that he’d be reunited with it.
About 20 minutes later, Tietz spied two anglers wrangling with a salmon nearby. One caught their prey easily enough, but the other struggled against her opponent.
“The gal was having a heck of time,” said Tietz. “Her pole was bent in half and they had to undo their anchor and drift back to land the fish.”
Then he heard it. One of the strangest sentences he might ever hear in his fishing career.
“This one has a pole attached.”
By some strange twist of fate, the woman had not only caught Tietz’s salmon, but his pole, too. The other anglers kept the fish that had eluded Tietz, but were fine returning his pole to him.
Although this is where the story ends, it raises a few unanswered questions. Does this sort of thing happen all the time? How much equipment is lost or broken as the result of coming across strong fish? Is this a problem anglers need to watch out for?
While there aren’t any available studies on the topic, one out of every $100 of all goods and services produced in the U.S. in 2011 was due to hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated recreation, according to a report from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency also reports that about 38% of people 16 years old or older spent $145 billion on wildlife activities in the United States in 2010. Anglers, in particular, spent $41.8 billion.
Although this spending includes such large purchases as boats, gas money, and equipment upgrades, it’s still a pretty steep amount. In other words, tough fish probably steal and break equipment a lot more frequently than one might think. Tietz is probably not the only angler to have a rod ripped from his possession.