So usually I work on a post all week and aim to publish on Fridays, but there’s gonna be a special edition of Tales of the Dogfish today. It was a great day, I finally got my Alaskan halibut! Actually, I caught my limit of two, which was the two biggest of the three in the featured image of this post. To catch seventy-five pounds worth of halibut is a pretty good thing to accomplish before noon!
As I’ve stated before, Tuesdays are my days off. Last week I wanted to go halibut fishing but instead we had to go salmon trolling per boss’s orders. Last night I put in my request to go out again and permission was granted by the lead captain who oversees that kind of thing. This morning, I got to sleep in until a glorious 6:30. Captain Nick, who was my captain for the day, told me to meet him down at the dock at 7:30, so at the stated time I went down there to meet him. We headed out to sea and went in a different direction than I went last week. This time, we were free to go halibut fishing and stay out as long as I wanted, so I was stoked! The day was perfect, t-shirt weather but slightly overcast, and the water was smooth as glass.
Our destination for the day was a place called The Meadow. It was a place that has been good for big halibut lately. We got situated and made our drops. After only about 15-20 minutes of bounce-balling, Nick got a bite, and he landed a nice 10 lb halibut. We chunked it in the box and kept on fishing. After a bit, I got a big takedown and I tried to set the hook a little too soon. Unfortunately, I farmed the fish. It had some weight to it, I bet it was a big one!
Undaunted, I set back down in the same spot. Soon afterwards, I felt another tug and reeled in what’s called a yelloweye. These fish are very similar to what we know as canary rockfish down in California. Goldeneye are huge rockfish, and this one was probably eighteen inches long and around ten pounds. They are illegal to keep however, and since I brought it up from 300 feet it had barotrauma.
Barotrauma occurs when you catch a fish at depth and when you bring it to the surface the swim bladder bulges out of its mouth. It can’t swim back down due to the air expansion in its swim bladder. What you have to do is hurredly attach a release clip to a downrigger ball and the other end to a special kind of hook in the fish’s mouth. Then you lower the fish back down to depth. When the hook on the release is pulled upward where you want the fish to be, the fish slides right on off and is good to go. I didn’t take a pic as we wanted to get the fish back down as quickly as possible. It didn’t come back up so mission successful!
After the rescue mission was completed, we shifted position about another three hundred yards over. The current started whipping up along with the winds, so it was hard to keep my line straight up and down. Captain Nick did an excellent job in holding station however. Not long after we switched to this new spot, I felt a lurch on my line and this time I set the hook properly. I could tell I had a real beast on my hands from the massive pull. There was a big fish on, it could only be a halibut! It was a hard fight, but eventually I brought a big ‘ol ‘but to the surface. It was a two hook rig so I had a small pollock on the top hook and the halibut took the bottom hook. It was a twofer! I was so stoked to catch my first Alaskan Pacfic halibut. It was 41 inches and 30 lbs. a nice fish for sure.
After this, we fished that spot a little longer in hopes of catching another big hali, but no dice. There was another spot about a quarter mile away called ‘The Trash Hole’ that has a reputation for holding good halibut. We motored on over there and I dropped my line. The bottom seemed pretty snaggy and I almost got hung up a couple of times. Then, I felt like I hit a snag. Suddenly, the snag pulled back! I mean, it really wrenched my arm, this was a big fish. I could tell right away that this one was bigger than my first. This fish was one hell of a fighter! It went on two really good runs, pulling drag like crazy. My arm was still wore out from the first fish, and it was super difficult to hoist up this second one. Nick thought that it was a 70 lber the way it was fighting!
My arm was starting to feel like it was about to give out when the leader came into view. It was another twofer! A big rockfish called a quillback (another illegal fish) was on the top hook. It made it really difficult for Nick to sink the gaff hook into the jaw of the halibut. He reached down and nearly fell out of the boat getting ahold of that beast. Finally he wrenched it over the side and it was a big slab of fish! We measured it and this one turned out to be 45 inches and 45 lbs. I’ve been watching guests catch ones this size since I’ve been here, and it was awesome to finally land one for myself!
As the limit for halibut is two a day up here, I was done halibut fishing. I had the option to go do some salmon trolling, but as the salmon haven’t really arrived in big numbers yet I was content to end the day. I still wanted to get back in time to do laundry and relax a little bit. My arm was completely shot anyway! I still have bruises from my hip all the way to my belly button from the rod butt digging in. Nick suggested we go check out this cool waterfall on the way back and that sounded like a good idea to me.
On the way there we saw some animal swimming along, we got close and it was a freakin’ deer! The channel was probably a mile wide at this point, who knows why in the hell a deer would attempt such a crossing. Probably the same kind of thinking that causes them to jump out in front of cars on a deserted stretch of road. Who knows what thoughts lie in deer’s heads?
After a short cruise, we came across the waterfall. It was actually two waterfalls in one! Nick had actually never seen it before either, so it was a neat experience for the both of us. It was definitely worth the detour to go check out.
After we checked out the waterfalls, it was time to head on in. When we got back, the crew congratulated me on finally catching my first Alaskan halibut, it was nice. I pitched in and helped process them out. So that’s my day! I couldn’t have asked for a better one all things considered. When you’ve got perfect conditions, great fishing, and picture-postcard scenery everywhere you look, it is a blessing. Hopefully there are more days of great fishing ahead!