Peter Harrison of Port Hadlock, WA shows off the enormous 44-inch, 29.5-pound wild steelhead buck he caught in Washington’s Hoh River on a spey rod.
The mammoth steelie has been creating quite a stir lately in angling circles for a couple reasons…
First off, it’s huge (duh!). It was weighed almost 24 hours after it was caught, so it was most likely a 30 plus pounder alive. A fly-caught world record? Well, not exactly…
Though the fish long accepted as the world fly rod record of 33 pounds, set by Karl Mauser in 1963, isn’t an official record. Mauser’s fish was never recognized by the IGFA, according to Becky Wright, IGFA’s World Record Coordinator. The organization doesn’t have a category for steelhead and instead puts all rainbows – anadramous and otherwise – into the same group. Right now, the all-tackle mark for the species is that freaky 43-pound, 10-ounce triploid mutant from Lake Diefenbaker taken last year. In the fly department, the largest fish is a 30-pound, 15-ounce rainbow from Germany’s Ruhr River – obviously not a steelhead, either.
So much for the record part…a best none-the-less and a fish of a million lifetimes.
What’s really got the internet message boards buzzing these days is that the fish, a native buck, was killed by Harrison. While it’s still legal to do so on the Hoh (mind boggling, isn’t it?), legions of anglers are saying that fish should have been released.
I know I would have without a doubt but there’s a bit more to the story…
Harrison said that the steelhead was bleeding from the gills after the fight and looked as if it wouldn’t survive. He maintains that he has never kept a steelhead before and only did so because it was dying.
So, maybe the decision wasn’t quite as cut and dry as you’d think…Of course, it would be a moot point if the State of Washington didn’t allow for the take of wild fish (I’ll again go on record and say that I believe that’s about as stupid a regulation as there is).