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).
Steelhead Ink says
As long as their are two different people in the world. One of them will bitch about what the other one does. Personally I read where if a fish has fought hard enough that the capillaries in his eyes bleed there’s a really high percentage chance the fish will die anyway. Like this guy said the fish was bleeding at the gills, he would not have lived anyway. The Native Americans catch 100’s of these yearly in their nets and no one says anything to them. Great catch my friend. I would have done the same thing.
Allowing the public to retain wild steelhead will be a bigger problem when they are all gone. How about starting with the dam barbs on the hooks , go barbless!!!!!!
OHHH and another thing, i wouldnt doubt it if indian nets and dams kill plenty of 30 pounders every, single YEAR! seriously, its one fish, if people really care so much, give the native americans smallpox, let the rivers flow without fucking gillnets, this guy would have to kill 100 of these big fish to amount to one net. Theres more than one net. TOO M ANY TREE HUGGGERS///////////
Ok, yea its a beautiful fish and it would be nice to know the creature got to live on. But you guys are wayyy to hippy bullshit on this guy. People use to kill fish like this all the time, just cause theres less steelhead now, theres no difference between this and killing a 10 pounder. This fish was most likely going to die that year and had spawned for years before this. Its just a steelhead, your allowed one native because the population is sustainable enough to allow this, he kept his one. lay off asshole fly fishing dicks
Russ Lo Bue says
Wonderful steelie. Too bad it was not given a second chance but if we fish we have to
decide that it might also kill any fish. My sentiments w/Peter who probably would have rather released this great fish w/o a second thought had the big buck been ok. So give Peter some slack and get w/the real killers of wild fish: man made damns and mining and…
BOW PRO says
i agree with rico.you can clearly see the fly.i use a cente pin with a float,and i have never caught any bows past the tounge to see a fish like that killed is such a shame…
Of course its a shame that beautiful monster steelie is gone, though I'm sure he's left a few brothers and sisters behind.
rico. quit your bitchin dude. are you jelious that you cant get your hands on one of those monsters? i for one am happy for the guy! stop hatein!
By the way – remember one thing about this catch – it was caught with a fly! So you fly fishers out there tell me, how could a fish bleed so badly from the gills if it were hooked on a fly inside the mouth?? I am just curious, because that is where this story does NOT sound so credible by the fisher. I really do think it could have been released.
Enough said, RIP Monster Steelie – may your offspring bless for years to come!
Bret Lowe says
I know this is an old thread… But I was the first person on the scene here, came around the corner (floating downstream) to witness a dude bashing a giant fish to death with a rock. I rowed over to investigate, and very well may have taken this picture. It was hooked in the upper jaw, and there was NO BLOOD. NONE. As in, he lied about it bleeding because of the shitstorm him killing it created. Hope this clears things up!
Thanks, Bret. Sad that a wild steelhead can be bonked anywhere on this planet…
Well said, Rico!
I heard a bit more of this story, as it is a little closer to my home turf up here in WA. It was reported that a WA State Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist/sampler was onboord a boat which came across this beauty just moments after it was landed and scale samples were taken from this fish (we could get DNA & age structure and see how many times this fish has been to salt and back again from those samples). Maybe you could use your magic and contacts to track down that data and let us know more about this awesome fish?? i will forward to you the story which was sent to me regarding the battle and landing of this fish (additional photos also attached).
I will also go on record for saying that it is absolutely crazy to allow the take of ANY wild steelhead in WA state – most other runs are at a critical level for survival. WA State has not managed its steelhead resource very faithfully – they always seem to give into their pushy constituents who cry if they can’t kill whatever they catch. I think they will cry even louder when there is nothing to cacth in the future.
Thanks J.D., for telling it how it is!
Ryan Sabalow says
The ire of the fluff-chucker crowd kills me. I love watching members of LL Bean team spend 20 minutes fighting a a half-pound steelie in heavy current on tackle so light a toddler could pull their leader apart with a tug. Of course they have to spend another five minutes posing for a photo with their trophy so they can hang it their office wall.
Catch and release, baby!
Sounds like the dude did the only humane thing for that big toadie, sad as it is.
Just wish people would use gear heavy enough to quickly haul in their catch.
Ted Bergen says
Is there any chance that Washington State will eventually pass a law requiring the release of wild fish? If this fish was caught and killed “post spawn” it wouldnt be as sad. From my understanding, the odds of most steelhead (particularly the males) making it back to the salt and then back the next year for another round is slim. It would have been nice if this fish could have passed on those genetics this year. I don’t blame the angler because he stated that he normally releases wild fish, and if he felt that the fish was going to die then I have to believe him. We need to keep the pressure on the bigger problems that these fish face. Dams, mines, massive habitat loss, gill nets and hydro-plant turbines.