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Reedsport angler hauls in big catch.

Byline: The Register-Guard

GOLD BEACH - The Rogue River has produced some big salmon in its time, but locals are saying it had been almost 100 years since a Rogue angler landed a fish as big as the one Steve Perry of Reedsport bagged over the Labor Day weekend.

Perry's fall chinook weighed exactly 66 pounds on a certified digital scale at Jot's Resort, according to employees who were present when the fish was weighed.

You have to go back to 1910 to find any record of a heavier fall chinook being caught on the Rogue - and no one knows how accurate the scales used at that time were. In modern times, "the closest one we had to this was in 1974, and it weighed 64 pounds," a Jot's employee said.

As big as Perry's fish is, it's not even in the same weight class as the listed state record fall chinook. The record belongs to Ernie St. Clair's 83-pounder caught in the Umpqua River in 1910.

Perry, a 55-year-old lure maker, said he was fishing from a bank just upstream of the Highway 101 Bridge on Aug. 31 when the big male chinook grabbed one of his pink Perry Mag spinners as it was fluttering down through the water.

Perry said he fought the fish from the bank for almost 15 minutes before stepping into one of the several boats that approached with offers of help. And he credits the two Sacramento fishermen in the boat - Bob Cartwright and Ernie Owen - with enabling him to land such a large fish with 25-pound-test braided line and 15-pound-test leader.

"It really took a lot of skill from everyone to get that fish in," he said. "One of the people was actually holding my belt and the collar of my shirt to keep me in the boat, and the other guy went almost upside down trying to keep the line off the motor."

It also took a little luck.

"I had a seal chasing my fish at one time - it was porpoising on the surface for about 100 feet with a seal chasing it," Perry said. `I started yelling at the seal, `Leave my fish alone.' '

Perry said he fought the fish from the boat for about 30 minutes before it was finally exhausted enough for him to land it.

The fish measured 49 inches in length.

"We didn't think to take the girth measurement, but it was extremely husky ... that fish was just about as wide as my shoulder," Perry said.

Perry said he agreed to allow Jot's Resort to have the fish mounted and display it.

Russ Stauff, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's fish biologist in Gold Beach, said he's not surprised by the size of Perry's fish, given the ideal freshwatear and ocean conditions for salmon the last few years.

Another factor, Staff said, is the sharp reduction in commercial troll fishing for salmon in the Klamath Management Zone. That reduction stemmed from a federal judge's ruling, called the Boldt Decision, that allocated 50 percent of the returning salmon to American Indians along the lower Klamath River.

Stauff said Perry's chinook is most likely a 5-year-old, although it could also be a 6-year-old. The reduced commercial fishing pressure means more salmon are now surviving to be 5- and 6-year-olds, he said.
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Title Annotation:Recreation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 12, 2002
Words:553
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