Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Humungo (to us) Halibut

Fourth of July weekend we traveled 670+ miles to Homer from our humble abode. It was a long drive so we camped out along the way. We set up camp at Montana Creek Wednesday night next to a few Army guys who were there to try their luck at kings swarming in the creek. Fishing for kings was closed during the week, so I don't know if they snuck out at night to fish while everybody was asleep. One of them was from my husband's home state, the great OK. (How's Oklahoma? Its OK) One of them came over to our side of the campsite wearing a crocodile dundee hat with a big machete to top it off. He had brought a sharpening stone and was trying it out slashing bushes there. The campground had a few other questionable characters, one across from us was playing a fiddle/violin/whatever in the evening (classical sounding music).
We left the next morning hoping to catch lunch at our favorite restaurant in the State of Alaska, The Outback Steakhouse. We pulled up, no cars at all in the parking lot, and saw to our dismay that they opened at 4pm -- darn, what a bummer! We went to our next favorite restaurant in the great State of Alaska, The Golden Corral. I gorged myself in the fresh salads, the great array of every food (almost) imaginable and their delicious buns.
We made it to beautiful Homer later that day. We had planned on camping up on the hillside at a city campground. We got there, found a few open spots and then found out people could call ahead of time to reserve places (either that, or the park person there that night got a few extra $$$). We ended up camping out on the spit. Which wasn't bad at all, a little crowded, but nice and close to the boat dock/showers/shops/restaurants, etc. We cleared away rocks from the camp area to put our tent down and I was worried we'd be freezing at night being right on the waters of Cook Inlet, but it turned out very comfortable. It was breezy and no mosquitoes to swat away. Eagles soar everywhere and the scenery, breath taking!
We took our Duckworth 18 footer out the next day out to the bluffs. We trolled along (I had finally got Stephen his Father's Day gift, a halibut rig, while we were down there) I had my salmon rig hoping to catch a few. Not too long into our trolling, Nagi asked "Dad, should I get the net ready?" And Stephen got a hit on his, he got it almost out of the water but it swam away, darn!! Meanwhile I switched over to hali style fishing stuff, and my pole kept acting funny and kept asking Stephen how I would know if there was a fish. I dont know how long we had that in the water when we finally decided to pull our stuff in to move to a diff location. Reeled in and what do you know, there was a fish at the end of my line! It wasn't very big, but I was satisfied. Stephen also got another one (right after Nagi asked again if she should get the net ready!) It seemed to be the same size that had gotten away. Five or so pounds bigger than mine. We headed back in, happy that we got at least fish to bring with us.
The next day, we left around noonish. On the way down the dock I ran into a fellow Kipnuker (Cathy Paul) who was down there for the halis with her family from Anchorage. What a nicest surprise! Her daughter was needing to use the bathroom and we were about to leave the crowded boat slip, so I didnt get to visit with her. We headed out to the same area by the bluffs. The water was so calm and beautiful. We trolled for a LONG time with no hits at all. We were about to head back and decided to anchor down. Maybe a few minutes after anchoring, Nagi asked again "Dad, should I get the net ready?" and for sure, Stevo had something on his line! It took him maybe 20+ minutes to reel the big board in. He took his first look at it when it got up close enough and said "I don't think that net will work" With the help of Andrew (my girl's first serious BF) they got it in. Stephen had "red neck" rigged a gaff before the trip (which worked prefectly) and finally pulled it in with the gaff. It was humungo!! When the fish was finally in the boat, we asked "Now what?" We had no idea how to kill it. He had it laying down with the "white side up" and whenever it plopped around, Andrew would put pressure on its head and it would calm down. We headed back, and got it to the back of his truck. Took it over to the cleaning station and it was still alive! Stephen went over to ask people hanging around the cleaning station on how we could kill it. One of the guys came by to look at it and thought it was about 60-70 lbs. (He was asking if we had gps coordinates on where he caught it, hehehhe). Since there was a line at the station, we decided to take it over to a weighing station to see if they'd let us weigh it, just to see. We got it up to the scale, Stephen was behind the fish, and the nice lady who let us weigh it, asked "How much did you think it weighs?" It was 86lbs! I filleted it for 45 mins! What a big fish! That halibut rig Stephen got the day before was paid off plus more that day. What a humungo fish! And delicious it is ....

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