When we let people know we were going to Alaska, people told us stories of catching halibut. "Oh yeah, you just hang a hook over the side and in the morning you'll have a halibut!", they said. A family member took us on a shopping spree at SeaMar to get all the right hooks, lines, lures, etc., for halibut fishing. Our neighbor at Shilshole gave us all his old halibut gear, because he is heading south and won't be needing it any more. We were READY.
Every time we anchored, we dropped the line over the side. No action. We stopped more than a dozen times where we saw other halibut fishermen to jig for them. Nothing (except a super rad basket star). We hook one - then the line broke. Probably caught a rock on the bottom. We were moored next to commercial fisherman at Baranof Hotsprings, and he told us "Just hang a fresh piece of bait a foot above the bottom, and within a couple hours you should have a halibut." Hmmm.
We kept at it, every time we anchored. Then... we were tied to the mooring buoy at Bishop Bay... and I was down in the bilge working on our broken alternator. I heard a noise, as the halibut line was tied to the lifeline. When I went to pull it up, it felt like there might be something on there - but then it got really hard to pull. I hooked it up to a winch and cranked it which broke the hook off the line. Probably caught another rock on the bottom. Another hour went by, and I heard the noise again. I went to pull it up and this time it was coming up, but it was very heavy. It pulled a couple times! Fish on! I had my gloves on and kept pulling it up. Then, it reached the surface. This halibut was massive. We caught an over-four-feet-long, hundred-plus-pound leviathan from the deep! It started flopping around with tremendous force. I had to let it run. As I was pulling up, Michele had tied the line off at about twenty feet. When it reached the end it pulled and heeled the Ardea over! It was a battle! Once more I tried to bring it to the surface. The mouth on this thing was the size of a dinner plate, and was lined with vicious looking teeth. (It may have growled.) Then, we started to think... If we do get it up on deck, it will destroy the boat. What do we do with this thing? If we could somehow subdue it, what would we possibly do with a hundred pounds of halibut fillets? There was only one other boat in the harbor. We considered tying it off and asking for help. The monster was thrashing about, so we finally decided to cut it free. Michele was laughing hysterically. I was terrified! That was the biggest, meanest looking thing I have ever seen in the ocean! I'm not sure I will ever hang the line over the side again.
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