First salmon provides thrills for grandkids

Bill HiltsCapt. Roy Letcher was putting down a flasher and fly on the downrigger when he looked back and saw another flasher-fly combo was already screaming away from the boat. Salmon! Eleven-year-old Mark Finney – my grandson from Jacksonville, Fla. – was first up on the rod and his father, Keith Brong, assisted with the throbbing fishing rod.

The reel screamed as they looked at each other and smiled as they held on for dear life. Two other grandsons, 9-year-old Chris Finney and 14-year-old Bradley Poeller of Lockport looked on, waiting for their turns on the rods. But this was Mark’s time to shine. Fifteen minutes later, with his arms feeling rubbery and a look of amazement in his eyes, he watched Letcher net the Chinook salmon and bring it on board Capt. Bob Cinelli’s 37-foot Tiara named “White Mule.” Mark had his first salmon, a 20-plus pound fish that seemed to fill the bottom of the boat for the youngster – without a doubt the biggest fish he’s ever caught. Memory number one had been established.

Five minutes later, Chris was battling a big steelhead. Keith helped with the rod pumping and the instructions as they fought the fish right to the back of the boat. One final series of jumps just beyond the outstretched net was all the fish needed to free it from the hook – and Chris stood there with a frown on his face. He will have another chance later.

Bradley was up next and the fish didn’t disappoint. While the salmon was only about seven pounds, it still put up quite a tussle for the youngster.

Keith and Kyle Costello, my son-in-law, were next up to the back of the boat and both came through with 20-plus pound fish – both kings that helped enforce the royalty on the lake. Costello’s tipped the scales at 27 pounds, proving that they can make your arms hurt. He would fight another fish for just as long – a bigger brute – that would release himself by breaking the line … losing a Dipsy Diver, flasher and fly in the process.

Mark was back on the rods, reeling in another small salmon. Chris managed to catch a king of about 10 pounds and Bradley added another salmon to the box. A few smaller ones were also released.

It was great to get the grandsons, as well as the others “dads” out on a big-time charter boat to reel in their first salmon … and a bunch of memories. Fishing out of Olcott Beach, the port lived up to its salmon fishing reputation. They will remember this fishing adventure for the rest of their lives and hopefully we planted a seed that will continue to grow for future generations to come. 

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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