A Hermiston confectionary store owner and sporting goods dealer reeled in a much larger prize than he was expecting on a fishing trip to Cold Springs Reservoir outside Hermiston in August of 1919.

Henry Hitt was relaxing while fishing for bass on a sunny afternoon on Aug. 19, 1919, trailing a hook baited with a tempting-looking minnow across the wind-blown waves and into the weeds at the shore. One particularly long cast sent his lure out of eyesight, and just as it disappeared Hitt felt a tugging on his line.

Hitt set the hook, assuming the battle was on. But Hitt’s line did not immediately dash for deeper water, and he began to think he had perhaps caught something not of the fishy persuasion — perhaps a mink, like fellow fisherman Bill Matthews, or a water snake like the one towed in by John Dunning.

As he pulled his line in slowly, Hitt was surprised to see a pelican stroll from behind the bushes, attempting as it walked toward him to eat the minnow without also swallowing the line and the hook.

Hitt captured the bird and removed the hook, then packed his peculiar catch up and took it home. The pelican made itself at home around Hermiston for a time, and Hitt later returned it to its home at the reservoir.

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