Fish Tales: Kenai king catch earns seal of approval

Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010

A few weeks ago my son and I came to Soldotna to fish. We had a delightful stay with Bob, Cathy and Larry at Bob's Cabins.

Our first day we went for kings with Bob on the Kenai River which was right out his back door. We were very excited, especially because the ban on keeping native kings had been lifted. After about an hour I had a hit on my line and started to play the fish. After about 10 to 15 minutes my arms wore out so I handed the rod to my son Josh. We knew that we had a fight on our hands especially when 30 minutes had passed and the fish had not surfaced since the first strike.

About five more minutes passed and the fish finally cleared the surface. All we could see was the back fin and behind it a black round shiny surface. We paused for a moment and looking at each other said, "could that be a seal?" Moments later the fish and what we identified as a harbor seal surfaced again.

We knew that we would never pull in the seal and didn't want to. Josh kept reeling the king and seal closer and I was trying to get a photo to show our friends back home what happened. We knew we were going to have to cut the line and we wanted to continue fishing.

We were now 45 minutes into the chase and we had drifted about four miles and boy, were we in for a big surprise. Just when we were ready to cut the line, the seal let go of the king and we hauled in a beautiful 30-pounder. The teeth marks were only on the head and all the meat was saved.

We came home that day with one king and a heck of a tale form the Kenai. I wasn't sure whether to call this a fish story or a seal story -- you can decide.

Jim DeBerge lives in Carbondale, Colo.

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