Teen reels in 87-pound king salmon

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2002

KENAI (AP) -- Patrick York of Anchorage hooked a huge salmon while fishing on the Kenai River over the weekend.

The 16-year-old teenager reeled in an 87-pound king salmon after dueling with the fish for 45 minutes on Saturday.

At first glance, he and other members of his fishing expedition, including longtime Kenai River guide Mel Erikson, thought the fish might rival the record held by Les Anderson of Soldotna.

However, a final weighing of the fish revealed it was 10 pounds shy of the 17-year-old record. But York and Erikson both said the fish gave them a fight worthy of a record holder.

''Well, I was holding the pole and it just bent right over,'' said York, describing the moment when the monster first hooked his line. ''It just kept taking line for a good 15 seconds.''

The fish pulled the boat and its four passengers from Mud Island, where the fish was initially hooked, to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's sonar counter about a half-mile away.

''I just kept reeling it in,'' York said Sunday.

York admitted more than 24 hours after landing the 54-1/2 inch king that his arms and shoulders were sore.

''Sweat was just pouring off him,'' said Erikson who owns Alaskan Game Fisher guide service. ''It was just pretty awesome. The sheer power and sheer size of the thing. It got my heart pumping.''

York landed the fish on his own, but Erikson was manning the dipnet trying to capture the king every time it seemed to get close enough.

Time and time again, he would think he had it netted and then the big fish would escape, leap over the net and disappear, Erikson said.

What York's fish lacked in length, it made up for in girth.

''I caught a 78-pounder once, but (York's) made that one look like a minnow,'' Erikson said.

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