Minn. girl reels up, releases 88-inch halibut

Kate Curtis, 16, of Hastings, Minn. touches a halibut measured at 88 inches she caught and released Aug. 14 with Deep Strike Sportfishing on the Grand Aleutian with Capt. David Bayes and deckhand Jane Cornell. According to a length and weight chart, an 88 inch halibut could weigh 376.5 pounds.

Three years ago, Kate Curtis, a 16-year-old from Hastings, Minn. caught a 50-inch muskie after just 20 minutes of fishing.

Family and friends might have thought the trophy fish was a fluke — beginner’s luck for a girl who never cared much for angling pursuits.

But on Aug. 14, Curtis did it again. This time the fish was flat and estimated to be 88 inches long.

“She comes up here fishing with her whole family and catches that thing? It’s comical,” said Paul Curtis, Kate’s 49-year-old father.

Kate caught and released the giant halibut while fishing with Deep Strike Sportfishing off Point Adam, which is about 35 miles from Homer, in 150 feet of water on a circle hook baited with octopus, said Capt. David Bayes. The Curtis family was fishing aboard the Grand Aleutian with Bayes and deckhand Jane Cornell.

“I know, they just come to me,” Kate said when asked about her tendency to nab big fish.

Kate said she fought the fish for about 20 minutes before she had to surrender the rod to Paul for help. It took about 45 minutes to bring the barn door to the top.

“I’m not a big fisher, but I was letting my lure down and all of a sudden I got this big, really big, tug and the guide said, ‘Oh, that’s probably a big one,’” she said. “I started reeling it in, but more line was going out than was coming in.”

Paul said the fish ran quite a bit during the fight but then stopped and just leaned on the line. He said it took all the energy he could muster to handle it.

“I’m a pretty fair-sized guy and was lifting with all I had and couldn’t budge that thing for a long time,” he said.

When the fish surfaced, the boat’s crew used a tape measure to estimate the fish at 88 inches, which could weigh 376.5 pounds, according to a length chart.

The family took photos of the fish and then decided to release it — they had enough fish to take home and didn’t bother to purchase a ticket for the Homer Halibut Derby.

“The guide said that when halibut get that big the meat isn’t as good to eat and that halibut could produce up to 4 million eggs a year so he said it was probably best we just released it and let it do its thing,” Kate said.

Said Paul, “We just got into Homer at 6 o’clock that morning and met Dave right away and took off. We didn’t even think about (a derby ticket). Sure it is always fun to catch big fish, but we weren’t intentionally looking for big ones.”

Overall, Kate said catching and releasing her biggest fish in Alaska waters was a “great experience.”

“My brothers and my dad are really big fishermen and the fact that I caught it? I don’t know, it was just fun to brag about that a little bit,” she said with a laugh.

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