New Jersey man reels in his personal best, dreams of catching world record king

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2008 at 11:34 am

By Jessica Cejnar | Peninsula Clarion
His king may be 27 pounds shy of the world record, but after 27 years fishing the Kenai River Martin Quinn is one fish closer to his goal.

Quinn, a resident of Ridgewood, N. J., dreams of taking Les Anderson’s place as the person who caught the biggest king salmon on the Kenai. Every summer, Quinn spends about eight hours a day on the river and has reeled in fish weighing 65 pounds. But on the last Sunday of the king salmon fishery, at 6:32 in the morning, he found himself, with both hands on his rod, struggling to land a 71-pounder.

“I caught the fish right off the boat ramp at River Bend and when the fish hit he started running upstream,” he said.

Quinn’s king took him about 600 yards upstream to Big Eddy before he got the upper hand and hauled him down to the Pillars boat launch. Quinn fought his fish for about 30 minutes with both hands on the rod before he landed it with the help of his daughter Blair Quinn and son-in-law Ben Wullschlager.

“I think if I had a 50-pounder on I could handle the rod and net myself,” he said. “It really took two hands to hold onto the rod and my daughter’s netted many fish and she was right there on the net and did an excellent job.”

Quinn began fishing for salmon and steelhead trout in Portland, Ore. where he was president of the Tom McCall Chapter of Northwest Steelheaders and a member of the Oregon State Marine Board. Quinn’s introduction to the Kenai River began in 1981 and he’s been back ever since.

“In the early days I used to go out with guides and I remember the big jet engines on their boats and of course those things are all outlawed these days,” he said. “For the first maybe five or six years we would go out fishing with guides and then we started going to River Bend in Soldotna.”

When his 71-pound king salmon hit on July 27, Quinn said he wasn’t aware how big his fish was until it started swimming upstream.

“I’ve caught 50-pounders and 65-pounders on the Kenai and you always know you have a big fish if he starts the run upstream,” he said, adding that the biggest fish he ever caught up until then was 68 pounds. “Just about every big fish I’ve ever had continues his journey upstream.”

For the last 10 years Quinn, his wife, Ellen, and his daughter and son-in-law have fished for eight hours a day, but back in his Steelheader days Quinn would fish 18 hours a day.

His friends would take turns running the boat and on down times, they would find the time to sleep.

“Now that the ladies in my life are coming along with me I have to do everything,” he said. “I have to run the boat, bait the lures and do all the riggings and what have you. They help out with snacks on the boat, that’s about it.”

Because his fish was about four pounds shy of trophy status, Quinn said he filleted it and froze it.

The 71-pound king yielded 40 pounds of meat, he said, and he plans on serving it up to family and friends at dinner parties.

“You should have seen the fillets in this thing,” he said, “they were almost five inches thick.”

Quinn also has a long way to go toward beating Les Anderson’s record, but he’s confident he will some day.

“You always hear tell that the commercial guys are getting 100-pound salmon every year,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of truth to that. The fish is out there, you just have to be lucky enough to get it on your line.”

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at jessica.cejnar@peninsulaclarion.com.

  1. My friend Dom… loves your fish story… and will send you some photos to share.. OK? Fishing is his hobby too.


  2. Thanks for the hottest local news in Alaska…

  3. Can I come over for dinner? That fish looks delicious!


  4. What a wonderful fish story.

    Great catch.


  5. 8:21- I guess your mother never taught you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you also read closely, the gentleman is a native of our fine village. It’s called human interest.


    Good story, let’s see more like this one.

  7. 12:21 — Take your own medicine & zip it

  8. How do you zip medicine?

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