Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion was nearly the one who got away at a fishing contest with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and a handful of others Thursday.

In the middle of Lake Ontario, McCallion was reeling in a seven-kilogram (16-pound) salmon when the fish suddenly tugged on the line and pulled the 92-year-old politician toward the edge of the boat several kilometres off Port Credit.

The long-time mayor says she would have hit the deck if not for Ford, who stepped in and wrapped his arms around her in a bear hug to prevent her from falling.

“All of a sudden (the fish) took a dive that they do but this guy really dived in a major way and I lost my footing because he was so strong,” McCallion told CP24 anchor Lindsey DeLuce as she recounted the fish tale. “Mayor Ford was standing right behind me and when he saw what was happening he grabbed me, fortunately, otherwise I would have fallen forward.

“I don’t think I would have gone overboard because I would have dropped the line,” McCallion said Friday. “(Ford) saved me from falling, there’s no question about it.”

Video posted on YouTube by Canadian Sportfishing host Italo Labignan shows the moments after McCallion nearly took a tumble. Ford wraps his arms around McCallion just below her arms, as she feverishly reels in the fish.

“I got her, I got her. Don’t worry,” Ford says in the video, which is expected to air on the Canadian Sportfishing TV show later this year.

As he spoke to reporters at Friday's opening ceremony for the CNE, Ford said McCallion almost went overboard.

“All joking aside, it was pretty serious but like I said I still have some football left in me,” Ford said with a chuckle. “I had a saving tackle there.”

Despite the save, Ford told a reporter he’s no hero.

“When a big fish hits you and it goes down it jolts you, and I guess she wasn’t balanced and she almost went overboard,” Ford said. “Everybody was pretty shocked. She was almost right in the lake. I’m glad she didn’t go in because we all would have been swimming, and that water’s cold.”

McCallion eventually won her fight with the fish, which was scooped up with a net and cooked aboard the boat.

Ford told the group, including Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, that he doesn’t eat fish, but he tried the dish anyway, McCallion said.

“He told his wife on the phone that it was delicious, so I said to him, ‘Well, maybe now your wife will start cooking fish for you,’” McCallion said.

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