Idaho StoryCorps: The First One That Got Away

Oct 1, 2013

The first salmon Gary Lane caught this year, was on May 21st.
Credit Gary Lane

Every angler has a story about the one that got away. Gary Lane has been fishing in Idaho for a long time and the first story he remembers about a fish, was the one that got away. He tells the story to his friend Greg Stahl.

“My folks took us by horseback into the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area,” said Lane. “I think I might have been in the second or third grade. I caught my first salmon there, a wild salmon. That really hooked me on fishing and the whole outdoor world.”

“Was that a Chinook salmon?” asked Stahl.

“Yeah, a Chinook.”

“Were you fly fishing?”

“Wow, did I tell you this story before?” asked Lane.

“I don’t know if I’ve heard it.”

“It’s pretty amazing that you asked that,” said Lane. “I should tell you two stories. The first salmon I caught, I didn’t really catch it. It was a big one too. I was just a kid and I drug it on the bank and it came off my hook and was flopping around. I was afraid to go grab it, because my dad had a good sense of humor and he was joking as we were coming in, he told me these salmon could bite you. I thought it was going to bite me, and it flopped back in and swam away. I was all excited, so I went and told my dad and he says ‘I was just kidding’."

“So I ran back to the river. These two Chinook, side by side, probably three foot long, probably male and female, were coming up and I could see them," Lane remembers. "I cast out and it was a perfect cast, I mean it landed right in front of this one salmon and when when that fish came up out of the water to take that bumblebee fly, just as the mouth was about to go down over the fly I pulled back and missed him because I was too soon, being a kid, I was just too excited and then it got stuck in the tree behind me and I couldn’t get it loose and by the time I could climb the tree and get it, the fish were gone. But I’ll never forget it.”

Gary Lane earned a degree in wildlife science from Oregon State University in the 1970s. Scientific jobs were scarce, so he got a job as an outfitter on the Salmon River. In 1979 he started his own outfitting business, Wapiti River Guides in Riggins, which is still going strong today.

StoryCorps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people. Excerpts were selected and produced by Boise State Public Radio. 

You can this story on Oct. 3 and 6 during a special hour-long show about storytelling.  It will feature the people you've heard in this year's Idaho StoryCorps pieces and how oral histories have changed over the centuries.

The special airs Oct. 3 at 7:00 p.m. MDT and Oct. 6 at 2:00 p.m. MDT on KBSX 91.5.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio