William Ruckelshaus, the first head of the EPA, and former Delta Air Lines CEO Gerald Grinstein, celebrated their 80th birthdays by fishing for king salmon in central Puget Sound. Ruckelshaus caught a king that weighed nearly 20 pounds. Both men live in Medina.

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How do the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency and former CEO of Delta Air Lines and Burlington Northern Railroad celebrate their 80th birthdays?

How about wetting a line for kings in central Puget Sound.

That’s what William Ruckelshaus and Gerald Grinstein, who both reside in Medina, did on Thursday with Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle.

The trio left Shilshole Bay at 6 a.m., headed to Kingston on the south side of the Kitsap Peninsula.

The fishing started off on the slow side, but about two hours into the morning Grinstein hooked and a king that was about 12 pounds but lost it at the boat.

“There wasn’t much action, and that was the only fish we saw caught for about a dozen boats fishing,” Robbins said.

A short while later they hooked into a doubleheader with Grinstein releasing a small wild chinook, and Ruckelshaus latching into something much bigger.

It didn’t take long for Ruckelshaus to have his king next to the boat, and then it went crazy and peeled off about 140 feet of line, going straight to the bottom.

The king was really strong, Robbins said, and about 10 minutes into the battle they had the nice hatchery king that weighed just less than 20 pounds in the boat.

Grinstein had an early morning meeting, so they were back at the dock by 9:45 a.m.

Ruckelshaus was appointed to the Washington State Puget Sound Partnership, an agency devoted to cleaning up Puget Sound, in May 2008. He led the EPA in 1970 when it was first formed, served as acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, then Deputy Attorney General of the United States. President Richard Nixon also appointed Ruckelshaus from 1969-70 as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Division for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Grinstein was the CEO of Delta Air Lines, Inc. from 2004 until his retirement in 2007. He was CEO of Burlington Northern Railroad from 1985 to 1995.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com