This video is the essence of fishing. It’s got it all—crowded conditions, a lack of action, and then a surprise ending that will make you want to stand and testify: “This Is Why I Fish.”
The video in question was posted on YouTube by “NorthWest Fishing” in July 2021. The fisherman, who did not share his real name, is a seemingly normal guy out to try his luck fishing in the middle of downtown Portland, Oregon, at the Swan Island Ship Yard. For one thing, the weather report was wrong. It called for 38 degrees but it’s warmer, and the guy has on too many layers as he paddles his kayak out. Then, he realizes his fishing spot has too many big boats. And, because things aren’t dismal enough, he decides to break out a Barbie fishing rod. It’s all of 2 feet, 6 inches long of the highest quality plastic. It comes pre-spooled with God only knows what kind of line and costs a whopping $15.
The angler is throwing smelt flavor Sturgeon Candy, a popular bait in the Great Northwest, on a little sinker. It could not get any more basic. And, of course, nothing’s happening. He spends four long hours in one spot, blowing the one bite he gets during that time, while the boats around him catch fish after fish. It’s grim. You wonder why the YouTuber is even bothering to film it. Who among us has not had a day like that? If you say, “Me!” you’re lying.
Finally, the other boats leave and he’s got the place to himself for an hour. At one point, he says that he should have come on another day. “Today has sucked,” he confides to the camera. And indeed it has. But he’s a fisherman, so he baits up again and keeps at it.
Then the angler gets a light bite. “I’m gonna let this dude eat,” he says. Then he sets the hook—well, to the extent one can with a Barbie rod. It seems to work. The rod bends double, and the little reel hums as the fish surges and surges again. “Shakespeare,” he says, addressing the rod’s manufacturer, “you make a good child’s rod. The drag on this thing is amazing!”
Soon after, the rod cracks. It’s nearly broken in half. But the angler manages to haul it in regardless. “Oh my god,” he says when he sets eyes on it. “He’s a Monster! Oh my god!”
Miraculously, the angler finally brings the monster up to the boat before it surges again. Somehow the unspecified line has not snapped, the angler hasn’t been spooled, and the cracked rod is still kind of functional. Finally, he raises and boats a five-foot white sturgeon. “This is the biggest fish of my life that I have ever touched,” he says. “That is why I fish.”