Dad, son share one more fishing trip


Even in August, the weather can be unpredictable in Prince William Sound.
But Paul Rough was greeted with blue skies and sunshine during a fishing trip to Valdez, Alaska, making the already stunning backdrop even that much more breathtaking.
And for Rough, it couldn’t have been more fitting.
“He’d never been there but he thought it was an absolutely stunning area,” Rough said of his son. “Gorgeous, just beautiful.”
Rough, a retired U.S. Naval officer from Oak Harbor, was referring to his son, Paul Rough III.
The elder Rough went to Alaska last month as part of a trip to visit relatives and fish for salmon. But the primary purpose was to scatter his son’s ashes.
Rough’s son died from pancreatic cancer two years ago just shy of his 48th birthday.
The elder Rough joined his sister and brother-in-law in Fairbanks and they took a trip to Valdez to fish for five days in the Valdez Silver Derby.
In many ways, the trip was in honor of his son, a 1984 graduate of Oak Harbor High School and avid outdoorsman who loved to fish.
For five days, Rough fished from a 38-foot fishing boat known as the Mary Belle with his sister Lorane Mobley and her husband Cliff., blown away by the scenic beauty.
His son was constantly on his mind.
“He was with me the whole time,” Rough said.
On Aug. 5, the last day of the fishing trip, Rough reeled in a salmon weighing 15.36 pounds, the biggest silver caught that day in the Valdez Silver Derby and at the time, the third biggest of the tournament. Had he stayed in that standing, he would have won $2,000 but eventually others surpassed him.
In all, the three caught 47 silver salmon but the biggest was saved for the final day.
Rough, 80, said his son “would have freaked out” seeing him hook into such a nice silver salmon.
“It was the most fun I’ve had in an awful long time,” Rough said.
It brought back memories. Rough and his son had spent a lot of time fishing together at a family vacation property on Lake Walker, in the Cascade foothills near Enumclaw, and even took a trip to Homer, Alaska, to fish for halibut years ago.
A group of six caught 375 pounds of halibut in one day, he said, and almost a lot more.
“He had a really big halibut on the line and got it clear up to the boat until it finally broke off,” Rough said of his son. “The reel disintegrated.”
Rough chose a particularly scenic spot to spread some of his son’s ashes.
His son was a three-sport athlete at Oak Harbor High and expert skier who later became an advertising, runway and photography model.
In recent years before he died, he was part-owner and operator of a bartending school in Palm Springs, Calif.
But the outdoors was his passion.
“In memory of him, that was a big deal for me to be able to spread his ashes out there in Valdez,” Rough said.
There were no visual reminders of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that proved devastating to the Sound in 1989. Just scenic beauty and lots of fish.
“It’s amazing,” Rough said. “The mountains are really high, right next to the water.
“The weather was unusually beautiful. Everybody told me I was so fortunate to go down there when the weather was as clear as it was.
“It was magnificent.”

Photo courtesy Paul Rough
Paul Rough’s 15.36-pound silver salmon caught Aug. 5 was the biggest silver caught that day at the Valdez Silver Derby in Alaska.