Monday, May 13, 2013
Gulf of Alaska Halibut
and my favorite...Pacific White Halibut. There used to be a restaurant in Sarnia that had the best Pacific White Halibut fish and chips. When my wife and I first met it was our favorite restaurant.
Back then a large portioned one piece dinner was $5.75 but oh how times have change. Halibut fish and chips portions are no longer large and the cost of a dinner for 4 rivals those of a steakhouse prices. One of the huge bonuses of the Yakutat Lodge package was that a guided ocean charter for Halibut was included. I was really excited about this prospect.
With the forecast calling for calm winds and sunny skies on Monday and rain from Tuesday on through to the remainder of our stay we all agreed this was the day to venture out into the ocean in pursuit of these bottom dwellers.
After breakfast we made the drive from the Main Lodge to rendezvous with Captain Steve of the Happy Hooker III Charter boat at the town Marina. Upon our arrival we were confronted by our captain with dismal news of engine problems and a need for refueling. After a small discussion we agreed to give them a half hour to troubleshoot the outboard issues with their Mechanic while we went back to the cabin to regroup and formulate another plan should things goes south.
We were all beginning to get a sour taste on our pallets but decided it best to let the events play out. We returned to the dock to learn how our day would unfold. Walking down to the docks we witnessed the boat making their way back in from a test run.
Captain Steve drove away to get bait while the fuel truck filled the boat for the trip. Before long we were making our way out through Monti Bay, into Yakutat bay, and then our destination… the Gulf of Alaska.
On a large swivel we affixed a heavy test mono lead to a very large circle hook to which we attached our bait. To get the frozen whole herring baits down to the bottom and fight the wicked tidal currents we used 1 lb lead ball weights once again affixed to the swivel. Even with the heavy weights our lines were often at a 45 degree angle during times of heavy tidal currents.
Once close they pick up the scent of the herring and move in for the easy meal. It wasn't long until we had our first rod twitching and indicating a fish. Once again our captain cautioned us about setting the hook and we patiently waited for the fish to commit.
but still plenty of good food for the box. We reset the lines and got back to jigging the attractor. Soon my rod started to twitch and I patiently awaited the fish to commit. All of a sudden the rod rocketed down hard. I cranked down quickly and pulled the rod from the holder.
half dozen memorable runs the fish was at the side of the boat and Captain Steve attempted to make the kill shot.
Suddenly Scott's line went slack and the now dead fish started to drift away with the current. The captain scrambled to snag it with his large gaffing hook and rope but it was just out of reach. We all watched in disbelief as $900 or so dollars of prime Halibut disappeared into the depths. Our captain was visually upset as to how the event unfolded and apologized excessively.
the battle was now over. As far as we were all concerned it was indeed a caught fish and rivaled the big one we had already boated. We all shook it off and reset the lines. In the next 4-5 hours we managed to boat three more smaller Halibut for the box. In the process we must have missed another 3-4 opportunities.
few seals. Miraculously I only managed to get sea sick once over the day. When it did finally happen Scott hooked his last fish shortly after so we joked about my vomit chumming his fish up from the depths.
The meal was the ultimate way to cap off an epic ocean adventure.