Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A 250-pound Fish Story ... and Almost Going Overboard!

July 23 – Pelican

After a week of so-so weather, we were thrilled to see sun and azure blue skies on the day Lee generously treated us all to a charter fishing trip. Our trusted charter captain, Terry, was also the winner of the annual Pelican Salmon Derby back when we were in Pelican in 2010 with Lydia, Eric and Cade ... so we knew we would have a pro with local knowledge.

Roland and I wanted to learn to fish this summer. OK, to be precise, I wanted to learn to fish ... specifically for salmon. Not so much for the sport of fishing, but more so because I wanted to fill our freezer with fresh wild salmon. Halibut would be nice too!

It took us two hours heading out the Lisianski Inlet to the Lisianski Strait to get out to the Gulf of Alaska ... to Terry’s “secret” spot.

With little wind, the Gulf was calm and when we reached our target, Terry pulled out his salmon rods and loaded us up with bait and sent them down with the downriggers. Within no time JoAnn hooked a nice king salmon and she and Roland took turns bringing it in.

We also caught a few humpies and silver salmon, which Terry bludgeoned to death to chop for bait later when we fished for halibut. Then Lee caught a beautiful king, and I already was conjuring up creative salmon recipes.

Knowing that Lee and JoAnn had to fly out later that afternoon, we didn’t want to miss our chance to fish for halibut, so we pulled up the downriggers and Terry moved the boat to his halibut “secret” spot.
JoAnn and Laura ... ready for the BIG ONE!
Halibut fishing is hard work. Largely because they are deep bottom feeders, so you’re dropping a line with a large weight on it 350 feet deep. And every time you drop a line ... you ALSO have to reel it back up!
JoAnn's halibut, with some help from our charter captain Terry.
They say the best halibut meat is a smaller halibut, 30-50 pounds, so we were delighted when JoAnn hooked a 40-pound halibut and she and Roland took turns bringing it in.

But the BIG catch of the day was mine. And I initially didn’t even know I had a fish on my line. I started to reel up my line to move to the other side of the boat where the sun was ... and all of a sudden something started taking the line out.
Lee helping to reel in the BIG one!
I couldn’t stop it, so Terry told me to let it run and tire itself out ... until we realized it wasn’t tiring and I was running out of line! So that’s when I sat down and braced myself against the side of the boat to try reeling this thing in. And almost was pulled overboard in the process!
Both eyes are on the other side ...
Terry quickly came to my aide and based on what he was feeling (even he was struggling to reel in this fish) he said he bet it was at least a 200-pound halibut. Lee joined in the action as well, and after a lot of work, we finally got the fish to the surface and everyone was in awe.
We're talking BIG and ugly!!! And look at the size of the bait.

Terry measured it at about 76-inches, which according to the halibut length/weight chart is close to 250 pounds of halibut. No wonder I couldn’t reel her in.

And we know it was a female because any halibut over 100 pounds is a female; they live longer and grow larger than males. If you’ve never seen a halibut, you’d be a bit surprised ... it’s a flatfish, with the left eye next to the right eye on the same side, a huge mouth with teeth ... a downright ugly fish! And this one was more than 200 pounds of ugly!!! Terry struggled holding the fish up to the surface so we could try to get a photo of it, but given it’s size, we decided to let it go and he clipped the line.

Heading back to Pelican, it began to rain ... we decided our timing was perfect.
And so was the day ... except we soon would be saying good-bye to Lee and Joann, losing another well-trained team of crewmembers ;)
The "airport" at the end of the dock in front of Engelenbak.
At 5 p.m. they boarded their flight ... literally a half-minute walk down the dock from our boat ... and were flying to Juneau to begin their trek home.

After a sad farewell, Roland and I kicked back, relaxed ... and told fish stories!!
And they're off!!!


  1. wow that was an incredible story!! We will be fishing with terry this june

    1. Have a great time! Terry has great local knowledge and you will not come back empty handed.