I decided to take off Wednesday and go out with my buddy Lars
and do some fishing. The cohos are starting to run, and I have not
yet caught a halibut this year. I met Lars at 7:00, we loaded our
gear and headed to the docks. It was overcast and raining and
should be a good day to fish. We got the boat launched and
headed out for Cordwood Creek on the west side of Admiralty
Island's Mansfield Penninsula. It is about a 1.5-hour boat ride from
We got there and pulled into the cove. We were experiencing
about 3-foot seas, and the water was rough, this cove gave us a bit
of a break so we could get our gear set up in relatively calm waters.
The waters were so bad that this is the first time I had ever felt like
I was going to start to get seasick. I didn't get sick; a 7-up solved
that. We got our rigs baited and in the water. We were trolling for
We trolled for hours. The only thing that was biting were the pinks.
I missed a few, and so did Lars, but he finally landed 1. Seeing that
we weren't having any luck with salmon, we decided to go anchor
and fish for halibut. Lars maneuvered the boat so we would be
fishing at around 225 feet. We found the right spot, anchored the
boat, baited the hooks and threw them in. Now the waiting game.
Lars proceeded to go to the cabin and take a nap. Not me, I am a
real fisherman, I'm going to sit in the rain with my pole in hand
and catch me a fish. After an hour, I did catch a fish, a sculpin. Not
edible (you can live on it, but what's the point), so I unhooked the
double ugly and tossed it back in. I continued to sit and fish in the
Another 20 minutes passed, and Lars woke up and checked his pole. It was bending toward the ocean floor, yep he had a fish. He had pulled in a nice little 20 pound halibut. Great eating, we knew the fish were there. More time went by, and I hooked into a nice size cod that I landed and the bait went back in the water. Hours had passed this time, and no real progress was made. I made the comment to Lars, if we don't catch something soon, we should pack it in.
The moment I finished that thought, the tip of my pole dove toward the water 3 or 4 times, I had a bite. This strike hit with a purpose, so whatever was down there wanted what I had on my hook. I gently lifted my pole out of the rod holder and readied myself for the fish to strike another time. I didn't have to wait long; he struck, and I set the hook, FISH ON! I yelled! Now is when the fun begins.
I started bringing the fish up, and he was fighting to swim to the bottom, so back and forth we went. I finally brought him up to the surface; Lars was ready, standing on the extension deck (a platform used to mount the outboard engines.) with the gaff in hand. He told me it looked like an 80 pounder; I said it felt like 100. I wasn't bragging, but I was tired and sore from bringing this guy up off the bottom 225 feet. The fish saw us and immediately dove for the bottom. I let him go halfway and started to bring him up again. We danced this dance several times. My arms told me I was done with that game; I tightened the drag on my reel so I could bring him up quicker. This would soon be realized as a mistake.
I got him back up to the boat and Lars gaffed the fish. Now that we were in control, (yeah right) we could bring him in the boat. With a large pull Lars had the monster half way on the boat and with a flip of the head, the fish was back in the water. When he hit the water, he used his massive tail muscles and was headed for the ocean floor asap. I looked at my pole and noticed that when the fish dove off the boat, I had broken an eyelet when my pole banged off the side of the boat rail. Missing an eyelet was still better than letting the fish take my pole with him to the bottom. Halfway down I heard a pop; that was the gear on my drag breaking. The fish was now in control. As he dove and swam faster, my reel handle spun freely backward. I felt like the little kid riding his bike downhill and the peddles were traveling faster than his little legs could keep up. This presented a big problem. The pole had a busted eyelet, and I now had to hold the handle to keep the fish from heading wherever it wanted to go. At that point I had decided since he broke my gear, he was coming on board, period.
We got him to the surface, and again Lars gaffed him and with a heave lifted him on the boat. And again, the fishes back half didn't clear the boat rail and splash in the water he went. I still had him hooked but again, he almost took my pole with him. I now had two eyelets broke. The third time was the charm, Lars gaffed him again and this time we got him aboard.
51 inches long, that equates to a 65-pound fish, dressed out that would produce 48 pounds of halibut filets. The fight and broken gear was worth it. We processed the fish on the floor of the boat (we couldn't lift him). The halibut and cod fillets spent the night in the garage on ice in a cooler. Last night, Stacy and I spent about 2 hours cutting him into manageable pieces and vacuum sealing them. Now it's off to replace and upgrade my gear. That was two broken poles in a week. Time to spend real money on fishing gear.
middle aged in the last frontier
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