Sea Lions and Salmon

Sometimes when fishing, you don’t get exactly what you bargained for. That’s part of the fun – and frustration – of fishing! It’s what keeps it from getting boring and predictable, especially when you are fishing in the great wide ocean. You never absolutely KNOW what is going to happen.

Occasionally, we have encounters with sea lions competing for the same salmon we are trying to catch. We have seen clients bring salmon all the way to the boat, only to have a cherry-picking sea lion steal it at the last minute.

Sea Lion With Salmon

A sea lion eats a salmon

Smart creatures – they know that it’s much easier to let us do all the work, hooking the salmon and bringing it in; all they have to do is wait for it. Dinner is served! Normally when this happens, the sea lion bites off everything but the head, so there is nothing to be done but try again for a full salmon.

After an encounter with a sea lion, usually all that is left is head of the salmon.

After an encounter with a sea lion, usually all that is left is head of the salmon.

But recently, we had a different experience on one of our boats. The salmon bite was on, and one of our clients had hooked into a really nice king. Suddenly, the line screamed out fast and furious, not the characteristic feel of the fish running, but another, more malicious feeling. A sea lion had just grabbed onto the salmon and took off with it.

After a furious battle with the sea lion, our client finally managed to bring the line back to the boat. The sea lion still had a firm grasp of the salmon in its mouth, but apparently wasn’t really that hungry, because then it let go, and the salmon was still there, completely intact. The only sign of its battle was the deep teeth marks in its side. Before the sea lion could change its mind and come back for it, the captain and deckhand quickly netted the salmon and got it into the boat. The sea lion looked up, as if to say, “Where’d it go??”

The sea lion's teeth marks are clearly visible in the salmon's side.

The sea lion’s teeth marks are clearly visible in the salmon’s side.

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