Trip yields big catch

Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2006


  William Landon shows off his 46.5-pound king salmon he reeled in last week. Photo courtesy of Julie Williams

William Landon shows off his 46.5-pound king salmon he reeled in last week.

Photo courtesy of Julie Williams

An 11-year-old boy suffering from bone cancer got his wish when the zing of his reel announced he had hooked a king salmon in the Kenai River last week.

“It was hard to reel him in,” said William Landon. “You get really tired.”

Although William estimates the 46.5-pound fish only took him five minutes to reel in, he said it was the toughest and largest fish he had ever fought.

“He reeled it all in himself and he just got done with (chemotherapy) five months ago,” said Julie Williamson, William’s mother.

William and his mother, father and two brothers traveled from their home in Battleground, Wash., to Alaska after the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to send him on a trip that would make his dream come true.

William quickly decided he wanted to use his wish to experience the fishing trip of a lifetime, Julie said.

“He loves fishing, he could fish all day long and not catch anything and still be happy,” she said.

During their weeklong trip to Alaska, William fished for salmon and halibut but said catching his first king salmon was the highlight of his trip.

The fish measured 45 inches, a length that would have normally required the fish to be released. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, however, makes an exemption for children with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

William has long enjoyed outdoor activities, but chemo-therapy treatments and the approximately 10 surgeries he has had on his legs have limited his ability to participate in some of his favorite activities, Julie said.

“He likes to hike and fish, but, of course, right now he’s on crutches and has a big brace and so he can’t do a lot of stuff he would normally be able to do,” she said. “But that’s what’s been so neat, one of his favorite things in the world to do is fish and he’s still been able to do it.”

William said he has been fishing since he was about 7, and he remembers a time when he even fished using a pole he had made from a stick with a fishing line attached to the end.

“I asked him if this felt like a dream come true and he said ‘yes,’” Julie said of William’s trip to the Kenai Peninsula. “It’s been wonderful here.”

Julie said she and her family have been touched by the kindness and generosity that so many people on the peninsula have extended in making William ’s dream come true and is particularly grateful for the hospitality they’ve received at the Wandering Moose Lodge, where their stay was donated by the lodge’s host.

William said he wishes his trip could last another two months. As their trip began to wind down Saturday, William was a little regretful over having to leave to return to Washington so soon, Julie said.

“He said, ‘Tomorrow’s going to be our last day to do anything here,’ and I said, ‘I know,’ and he goes, ‘I don’t want to leave.’”

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