The next time Steve Hoag fishes North Island waters, it’s likely he’ll be keeping a wary eye pointed to the skies.
That after an eagle “with a bald head and the yellow eyes of a devil bird,” snatched part of the Washingtonian’s catch while he was cleaning a different fish.
“It was an interesting experience, but it scared me half to death,” the 66-year-old told the Gazette.
Hoag and a couple pals drove from Stanwood, Wash. last week to fish our fertile waters.
After a successful early morning June 28, they hit the dock of the Scotia Bay B&B about 9 a.m. to offload their catch.
Hoag had a couple of springs and put them both on the dock.
“I was cleaning one and the other was real close,” said Hoag, who estimated he was about a metre from the second fish, which he reckoned to be about 18lbs.
That’s when an adult eagle swooped down and, without landing, grabbed the fish.
Hoag watched helplessly as his catch flew away.
The bird would have gotten away with the theft, but the fish proved to be too heavy.
“The bird flew just a short distance, perhaps a couple metres, before it dropped it,” recalled the shocked angler.
The fish hit the water with a splash and sank quicker than Hoag’s hopes of retrieving the salmon.
But he was in luck — B&B owner Sandra Masales happens to be an accomplished diver.
She quickly threw on a wet suit and headed for the water.
“When I put my mask on, I could see the silver of the fish about 10 feet down, which was real good because the water was murky,” said Masales.
She retrieved the fish and not a moment too soon, judging by the hungry starfish that had to be pulled from it.
Hoag said he feels fortunate he kept the salmon.
“If you’re going to have an eagle grab your catch, just make sure it’s a bigger fish,” he joked.
“But next time, the fish will be in the ice chest or I’ll be hugging it.”