Retired teacher reels in big fish tail

Posted: Tuesday, November 05, 2002

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) -- Grant Martinsen's fish tale is a whopper.

The accidental fisher reeled in a chinook salmon that weighed 71 1/2 pounds, a full 8 1/2 pounds more than the all-time record for fly-fishers.

''Golly, this is all quite a bit more than I expected,'' said Martinsen, a retired biology teacher and Grants Pass High School football coach.

A longtime fly-fisher of trout and steelhead but a rookie at salmon, Martinsen drove to the lower Rogue River last Monday for a day of fishing cohos only because a friend was too sick to go hunting as planned.

Since cohos generally weigh up to 15 pounds, Martinsen used an 8-weight rod, small flies and a net suitable for cohos. Then, after spying a few chinook, he tied on a chinook fly and started casting for the bigger fish. Ten minutes later, he felt a strike.

''It rattled my rod and shook its head,'' he said. ''I thought, 'This is a good fish.''' Martinsen pulled his two small anchors into the boat and let the fish tow him around. Then the chinook breached more like a whale than a salmon.

''He jumped halfway out of the water with his face pointed toward me,'' Martinsen said. ''You see something like that and it scares you.''

He plans to have the salmon mounted and displayed at the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach.

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