Alaska Day Three

May 22, 2004 - 3:02 am Comments Off on Alaska Day Three

Sportfishing is a lot like hunting – when the adrenaline is pumping you don’t notice things that are going to hurt later. I brought in a 62 inch long halibut today – 122 lbs. It took me about 15 minutes to reel it in and during the process I bruised the tops of my thighs all to hell with the back of the rod.

We got up at 5 this morning and picked up out $9 sack lunches from the hotel. This $9 buys you a sandwich, apple, chips, and small package of Oreos. (Whoops, wait, hold on, I just had to pause to kill a mosquito approximately the size of a sparrow) One of the stores in Whittier has a 12 pack of Diet Coke priced at a reasonable $8.00, but we waited until we got to Cooper Landing and picked one up at a bargain $6.50.

We got to the tunnel right as they opened at 6:30 and realized that the parking lot attendant wasn’t there that early, so a guy offered to give them our money when they came in. He did. I swear I’ve never met nicer people. The little grocery at the harbor was closed as well, but last night the owner told us to knock and he would open for us to sell us some ice. Also last night we went to the hotel gift shop at 10:15 because the Open sign was there, but they actually closed at 10:00. The lady was apologetic and said to come on in and look around anyway. Tonight we ran into our acquaintances from Troutfitters at Sackett’s Grill (wonderful food, amazing crabcakes) and they congratulated us on our halibut catch.

So back to the story. There were 6 of us on the boat, plus the captain – us, another couple, and the captain’s father and his friend. We headed out and spent about 2.5 hours getting to the edge of Prince William Sound. I had thought we would stay within the Sound while fishing which would have been ideal for Hub and his seasickness problems, since it’s more like a giant lake. However, we ended up going out of the Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska. Bad news – Hub alternated yarking up his toes and miserably huddled over sleeping to escape the urge to yark. He spent a good 6 hours like this. He swears he will never go on the ocean again. He had taken 2.5 Bonine yesterday and 1.5 this morning, as well as had an electronic Relief Band turned up so high his fingers were involuntarily twitching.

After a couple of hours of nothing, I felt my line get hit hard. I gave it a few minutes, then started reeling it in. Halibut are bottom feeders, so we had to put our bait on the ocean floor, some 250 feet below us. This meant that reeling anything in took a good long time. Eventually I got him up and the captain hit him with the bang-stick after an unfortunate incident with the safety being on. Jab, jab, why isn’t this thing working? Ohhhhhhh…

A few hours later I got hub to reel in a fish, thinking it would get his mind off his woes. It was around 20 lbs, I think, and all told we netted around 55 lbs of halibut. The yield is about 40% of the body weight. The men were pretty disgusted that they were shown up by the “girls” – the other woman on the boat got a 54″ halibut, 77 lbs. One of the men, a congenial older guy named Ed who has done just about anything and everything in his life and had the stories to prove it, had been slagging on Texas all morning; how it can fit into Alaska a couple of times. I told him that not only did he get out-fished by a girl, he got out-fished by a TEXAS girl. Later he was giving me grief for napping on the way in… but I told him it was hard work reeling in those big fish. I admit it, I was pretty full of myself. That’s the biggest one that our captain had brought back so far this year – the next biggest was 110 lbs. He cut out the ear bones and gave them to me as a souvenir.

I also got to see porpoises swimming and a whale breaching at last. I got a picture of the whale but it’s way far off and pretty grainy. I end the day (still light at midnight) bruised, sore, and beet-red sunburned on my face and hands (my ears are purple, for cry-eye-eye) but happy in the knowledge that we will be eating halibut for a long, long time.

Tomorrow we sleep in!

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