We had just started our second pass downstream when one rod started shaking and line started peeling off with a familiar zzz-zz-zz sound.
“It’s a fish!” I shouted “Grab the rod!”
Sabrina picked up the rod and said “No, I think it’s snagged.”
“Set the hook!” I yelled.
She gave it a mighty yank and the fight was on.
For the next 10 minutes, she engaged in one of the most exciting happenings for an angler on the Sacramento River. She was hooked up with a big salmon.
Sabrina is my youngest getting ready to leave for college in a few days. We decided to have one last fishing trip together before she started a new chapter in her life. I had mixed emotions while driving over to the river.
I am very proud of her and have my fingers crossed that she will excel, but she has been my go-to fishing buddy for many years and I will miss our outings. She is a heck of an angler, often out-fishing the adults on our trips.
Today, she was going to put her skills to the test.
We had been out several times trying to get her on a river salmon without any success. She did have a good one on last year that shook the hook right at the boat. This time it seemed the fish was well hooked and she might have a chance at landing one.
I cleared the second rod and steered out to the middle of the river, away from the other boats. Again and again, the beast took off on line-ripping runs and all Sabrina could do was hold on.
Several times she had it close to the boat, only to have to take off again. At one point it jumped behind the boat and we both said “wow, that’s a nice fish!”
Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. The reel came loose from the rod seat!
My guess is it came loose from all the vibration.
Sabrina held tight to the rod, as I tried to get the reel back into place and tightened down. Luckily, we were still going downstream and I think that helped keep pressure on the line.
It was about this time that Sabrina said “Dad. I’m done, I can’t reel it anymore.”
I took over the rod and did my best to keep the fish in range while Sabrina manned the net. After the fish made several attempts to dive under the boat, I got it up on the surface.
A few minutes later, we had it in the net and hoisted it into the boat.
We high fived and both sat down to catch our breath. I worked to get the hook out of the fish’s jaw that was so deep it actually broke while I was pulling on it. Talk about a good hookset!
I weighed it at a solid 14-plus pounds and nearly 30 inches long. Sabrina had caught, as well as netted, her first river salmon.
After having been on the water for over an hour, I figured we had done enough. The river had been good to us that day; no need to get greedy. We stowed the geared and headed upriver to the ramp.
Once back in Lincoln, we finished off the morning with some pancakes and waffles at Karen’s Little Cafe. It was the best day one could hope for; a perfect send off for my fishing buddy.