A Sad and Unusual Catch.

About 20 years ago, I was fishing Loon Lake for bass. The time was mid-October and it had just rained. Fishing was very slow and i was daydreaming as I was going through the casting and retrieving ritual that had been uneventful for the last two hours.

But I was alert enough to set the hook when I noticed a surface splash about where my lure was.

When I set the hook, whatever I had hooked didn’t dive deep, but instead headed skyward.

I was bewildered, but not enough to quit reeling and the 20# Power Pro was up to the task.
I soon found that I had “landed” a belted kingfisher. Upon reeling it close to my rodtip, I didn’t have to worry about it attacking me.

Attached firmly to the kingfisher’s chest was the 5/0 wide gap hook to which I had attached the 6-inch long soft plastic jerkbait the bird had taken a liking to. Everytime I tried to hold the bird so that I could unhook it, I suffered painful jabs from its sharp beak. I couldn’t believe how small its feet were.

I finally cut the line about a foot above the hook and the kingfisher weakly flew off.

Not all of Oregon’s kingfishers fly south by late fall, but the ones that stay have to deal with a greatly reduced forage base. Perhaps that is why this particular kingfisher tackled a six inch long lure that didn’t look very much like an actual fish.

I hope it survived the encounter but its chances would have been much better if the incident had occurred in early summer.

During my lengthy angling career, I have made many unusual catches – but I think this one was the saddest of all.

A belted kingfisher looks for aquatic forage.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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