After being introduced to fishing at an early age, the WNBA star recently hooked up with some salmon in Puget Sound.
Lauren Jackson has been holding onto fishing poles as far back as she can remember — whether on vacation with her parents, Gary and Maree, or getting a hand reel from Santa Claus when she was 3.
“It was the happiest day ever when I got the hand reel, aside from getting my first basketball,” the Seattle Storm’s center said. “I used that hand reel until I was 10.”
Despite a busy basketball career, Jackson’s life is always entwined around fishing.
Earlier this month, Jackson joined Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle, for a day of salmon fishing on Puget Sound, and it didn’t take long for her to get hooked.
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“I grew up fishing all the time with my parents in the ocean, and two lakes near our hometown,” Jackson said. “We caught all kinds of fish, and I had a great time going fishing with them when I was young. We used to catch jack mackerel, brim, snapper and all kinds of other fish.”
During the WNBA offseason, you can find Jackson on Australia’s eastern coast searching for fish or relaxing at her beachfront house.
“We go pretty much all the time when I’m home, and my mom and dad (who are retired) are out almost every day,” she said. “I go fishing with them for a couple of hours first thing in the morning, and if it’s not good, then we’ll go out after lunch.”
This wasn’t the first time she had tried fishing in the Pacific Northwest.
On a trip to the San Juan Islands she fished off a pier but didn’t catch anything. She also fished Lake Washington without success.
On the way to Point No Point, on the northeastern side of the Kitsap Peninsula, and in search of king salmon, Jackson enjoyed viewing the wildlife. Seals bobbed in the calm water and schools of Dall’s porpoises surfaced and dived around us.
We made a few drifts without a bite. On the fourth drift Jackson hooked a dogfish and was thrilled to catch something and pose for pictures.
“Are we going to net it?” she asked Robbins, who said he’d get banned from the charter boat association if they learned he’d netted a pesky dogfish.
Boats around Jackson started to catch a few salmon, and everyone got excited. But only the dogfish were biting for us.
Robbins decided to head south to Jefferson Head, on the southeast side of the Kitsap Peninsula. And it didn’t take long before Jackson hooked up with a pink salmon.
“My mom is going to be really jealous when she hears about this,” she said.
We moved back south down the drift, and Jackson immediately hooked another salmon. This time, the fish jumped about 40 feet from the boat and made a few runs across the surface before coming toward the boat as Jackson reeled up and kept a tight line on the fish.
Robbins netted the 5-pound coho. After taking some pictures, she released it into the sound.
As quickly as the bite came on, it started to fade. Jackson had to get to practice, so we decided to call it quits by midmorning.
Jackson said the trip was one for the memory book.
“I sent (mom) a picture, and she was so proud of me,” she said. “I’m always the last person to catch the fish on a trip (in Australia), or I usually catch the smallest fish.”
Would she go salmon fishing again?
“Oh, absolutely, for sure,” she said. “The fact that I’m injured for the moment, and to get an opportunity (to go fishing). I would have never done it on my own. I will definitely do it again.”
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org