This is not the story of the big fish I caught, rather it is the story of
the one that got away. We had friends, Keith and Laurie, in town
visiting from St Louis. Stacy couldn’t take vacation while they were
here, so I played tour guide, trip planner and fishing guide. I have
a friend here that has a boat so naturally I called upon him to take
the Cooley’s and I out on the water to catch fish. We went out the
day after they arrived and mixed in a little fishing with some
sightseeing. Keith skunked us all that day by pulling in the only
halibut. It wasn’t big but tasted great for dinner. Keith really
wanted to catch a large one. We call these big halibut, barn doors.
We went out a second time and were having no luck other than
some rockfish and one cod. Laurie and Keith both had lines in the
water on opposite sides of the boat. We were anchored in around 125 feet of water and sitting in a pretty strong rip current. The current was so strong they both had around 300 feet of line in the water. After a couple of hours not even getting a bite, we all decided to pull anchor and find another spot. This decision was about to get fun.
Keith and Laurie started reeling in their
lines when Laurie said hers was really, really
hard. I went over to help reel it in. We use
2-pound weights when fishing for halibut
and to reel that up from 125 feet with 300
feet of line out can be a challenge. Suddenly
Keith said he thought he was hung up on
something, his line wouldn’t budge. I ran
into the same problem, and we thought
we were hung up. We noticed that Keith’s
line was directly under the boat and heading
out to the same place Laurie’s had been. We
thought that was odd, but with the strong
current it wasn’t too far out of the ordinary.
That is when we noticed the ends of our
poles start to dance. They both dipped down towards the water several times. Keith and I looked at each other in disbelief. Had we hooked the same fish?
We started to work on bringing up whatever it was that we hooked, and we gained about 100 feet of line and then we stopped. We couldn’t move it. Periodically our pole tips would dance and whatever it was would run and take out more line. One thing for certain, we weren’t getting it up anytime soon. This game went on for about an hour. My buddy who owned the boat, Lars, our captain asked me if he could help.
We tried everything; I even attempted to reel in Keith’s line while he worked the pole. When we would make an attempt to bring the fish up, the boat would move. Finally, both lines ended up breaking. We were both equipped with 80# braided line. I wish we could have at least seen the fish but one thing was certain, if we would have got it to the surface, we would have been putting a line around it’s tail and dragging it back to shore behind the boat because there wasn’t enough room on the deck to put it.
I felt bad we didn’t catch more halibut or land this one. Even though we didn’t land him, Keith and I have a fish story to tell.
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middle aged in the last frontier
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