Some of us dream of catching a five-pound brook trout before we die. Others avid anglers want to hook onto a lake trout that’ll barely fit through the hole we drill in the ice.
On Jan. 11, Chris Parent ended up with a fish story like that, and he doubts he’ll ever catch a landlocked salmon to top the one he landed.
Parent, a 25-year-old dental student at the University of New England in Biddeford, found himself with a day off from school and decided to visit his parents in Hermon.
After the day he had, he’s glad he made the trip north.
“There’s this lake north of Bangor and I’ve always heard that there’s real big fish in it, so every year I try to make a trip to that lake,” Parent explained.
That lake will remain unnamed in this tale; Parent agreed to share his story, but not the name of this special fishing spot.
That day, the weather was mild, in the 40s, and Parent set up to try to land a big togue.
“I was jigging for lake trout pretty deep. I wasn’t having much luck. I could see the lake trout [on my flasher] and I wasn’t catching them, so I reeled up to check my lure,” Parent said. “I had just changed my lure and I was letting down my line and I noticed that my line wasn’t going out anymore. I thought, ‘That’s weird, because I’m only 20 feet down [according to what I could see] on my flasher.”
Then, things got interesting.
“That’s when I saw that I had something [on the flasher] right near where my lure was, so I set the hook,” he said. “And it just took off.”
The lake Parent was fishing features both landlocked salmon and lake trout, and he wasn’t sure which species he had on. Was it a togue that had abandoned the bottom of the lake and headed toward the surface, or a cruising salmon? It would take nearly an hour before he found out.
“It just kept taking line, and I thought, ‘Whatever this is, this is a pretty heavy fish,’ because it went from 20 [feet] right down to 100,” Parent said.
That’s when Parent decided he ought to turn on his GoPro camera and record the battle. Unfortunately, though the footage does show the fish swimming around near the hole, Parent’s camera ran out of memory after 47 minutes, and doesn’t capture the final stage of the battle.
The still photos, luckily, do: The fish Parent landed was a landlocked salmon that measured 30 inches long and weighed 10.2 pounds.
“I couldn’t believe I caught a fish that big,” Parent said.
His previous top salmon was a healthy 24-incher that weighed four pounds. Catching a six-pounder was on his bucket list.
And this fish?
“It just blew [that six-pound] goal out of the water,” he said.
Some Maine lakes are governed by a special regulation, labeled S-33, that requires salmon longer than 25 inches long to be released at once. The reason: Those lakes could theoretically host Atlantic salmon that have swum there from the sea, and Atlantic salmon are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“I knew that at this lake, there was no chance of catching an Atlantic,” Parent said. Though he says the words “Atlantic salmon” during his video, he’s merely using the term to describe the size of his enormous landlocked salmon.
Online experts have also suggested that his fish is a brown trout, but Parent said it’s not. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has a guide to telling the difference between the two species, and Parent said his fish had a straight row of teeth that proves that it’s a salmon, not a brown trout.
So, after such a memorable day on the water, what’s next for Parent?
“I don’t think I’ll ever beat this salmon, but I’m hoping someday to get a togue bigger than 20 pounds,” he said.
Here’s hoping that when that happens, he shares that tale with BDN readers, too.
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