Monday, August 15, 2011

I Love Big 'Buts -- Halibuts, That Is

John and his buddy Harlan decided to go halibut fishing for a day. The bad news: the boat was to leave at 7 A.M. The good news: we are parked right next to the put-in area for these boats, so sleep time is maximized and travel time is reduced to a short walk lasting only minutes.

There is no dock here, or even a boat launch ramp. Instead, the vehicles towing boats drop their boat, still on the trailer, near the beach. Tractors hitch up to the trailers and tow the boats into the water. When the boat is ready to come in, they radio in their arrival time, the tractors re-hitch their trailer and tow it into the water so the boat can load. We heard that this all costs about $20.

The morning of the Big Fishing Day arrived along with a cold spell. The previous two days had seen no fishing -- the water was too rough. But today the boats were going out despite the 7 A.M. temperature of 38 degrees. Fahrenheit.

John and Harlan got to the launch area, where they stood around for about 15 minutes because their charter-boat-ride was late. It finally got there, they got on board, and the tractor towed them out to begin the adventure.

Here is their boat as it is being released. Two other tractors and several just-launched boats are also in the photo:
Fast forward to the afternoon. It was a lot warmer then, and boats have started to return. John called to tell me his boat will be in at 2:15, so I walked down to the launch area to film his boat coming in. It is a beehive of activity, with tractors zipping around as they pulled incoming boats onto their trailers or launched boats that were going out for afternoon fishing. They paid no attention to me, and let me wander anywhere I wanted. When I saw John's boat heading in, I started the video. But just as his boat started to make the powered run towards the tractor and trailer, an unexpected obstacle started to block the view: Whew! It got out of the way just in time. But just what was that guy doing with the tire wheel? I can't imagine a tractor like that would need any human help!

When John and Harlan got off the boat, I found out that John caught the biggest halibut of the day -- a 72 pounder! Here he is with his catch:

The younger guy in the photo is the boat's captain, and although he is only 20, he is an experienced boat hand (and obviously knew where the halibut hid), having been around his father's charter business all his life. He has been Captaining for the last 3 years.

They brought all the halibut caught that day back to the charter company's store. Here are all those fish, with John proudly showing off his:

And here are all the folks from that charter with their fish (no, Harlan is not there -- he was feeling a bit under the weather):
The charter company turned that halibut into 42 pounds of fillet for us, which we picked up the next day and somehow got it stuffed into our freezer. A package of ribs and some green beans wound up being sacrificed for the cause (actually, just moved to the fridge for more immediate consumption).

John and I, and Harlan and his wife Sue, did manage to get our photos with another big fish -- this one may look real, but it is decidedly touristy and fake.

This will probably be as close as either of us will ever get again to a big halibut -- I am very prone to sea-sickness so I avoid deep water fishing expeditions, and John said that hauling this halibut up through 220 feet of water was extremely tiring, and an experience he doesn't plan to repeat.

Maybe he'll change his mind when all that halibut is but a fond memory!


Roxanne @ Eight Cat Design said...

I approve of the artistic arrangement of fishes under the sign.

The Good Luck Duck

Anonymous said...

WoW!!! your 1 hell of a "Popeye" (thou no spinich used here)..Hauling up that Halibut mustv felt like 1 Big Muther Whale hey?.... Great Job and the Taste will be upmost Rewarding Too!!.. Super Duper Great Pictures & video Z.. thx so much for sharing. I really enjoy All your adventures in AK.... birdladyD