A man synonymous with the Bismarck airport is now flying high with one of the biggest fish tales ever told in Montana.
On Sunday, August 16th, airport manager Greg Haug reeled in a substantial, super-sized salmon, shattering a 29-year-old “Big Sky Country” record.
And it all started with a regular, old buddies fishing trip out in Fort Peck.
“We were out there on the first, about 10 o’clock in the morning, marked some fish, we saw this big one marked on the graph,” Haug recalls.
Haug knew there was a lot on the line.
“The thing just popped and I just reacted,” he said.
Haug knew that fish in Fort Peck tend to be bigger and better than elsewhere, no matter the catch. That’s because Fort Peck fish eat ciscoes, not smelt. It’s like eating butter instead of cauliflower.
So, whatever was on the line was going to be big.
“The thing was just screaming, and I really just hung on for dear life,” Haug remembers. It was a real fight, and he kept cranking and cranking.
Eventually, he reeled in what he thought was a pretty darn nice Chinook salmon.
“You don’t know what you have,” Haug said with a smile. “We kept fishing — we didn’t know, we just didn’t know.”
Since Greg and his buddy had such a nice start to the day, they just kept fishing. And continued to fish for another six hours before heading in.
It was only after they got back to shore that Haug learned he had something special.
“It was a young guy that was working, he saw the weight and said you got a new state record fish.”
It turns out that “pretty darn nice” Chinook salmon weighed 32.05 pounds.
It was 38.125 inches long and a super thick 26.5 inches in girth.
“It would’ve been heavier if we would’ve come in right away,” Haug laughs. “Numb at first — who thinks they’re gonna set a state record, ya know?”
In the meantime, Haug’s become pretty popular in Montana — he’s been contacted by area magazines and other media about his big fish and the story behind it.
His fame has the potential to be short-lived, however — this is the time salmon are peaking at Fort Peck, so there’s always the chance Haug’s new Montana record could be topped this year.