Father, son land huge halibut in small boat

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- When Geary Cooper and his son Aaron went fishing last week in Ugak Bay, they were looking for a quiet evening on the water.

What they got was a 2 1/2-hour battle with a 324-pound halibut.

Cooper, 48, said he and his 13-year-old son were not set up to catch a big fish last Thursday.

''We didn't have a gun or a harpoon,'' Cooper said. Kodiak charter boats typically carry a weapon to to subdue a big fish, which can thrash about and damage a boat.

The two set off in a 17-foot inflatable Avon. Before long, they hooked the giant halibut, and the battle was on.

''It was quite a chore to get this thing in the boat,'' Cooper said. ''We had to had to keep switching the pole back and forth.''

When the halibut finally neared the surface and Cooper saw its size, he tried to gaff it, but the fish shook it off.

''I had a small gaff,'' Cooper said. ''I put the gaff in its mouth. It about ripped my arm off and threw the gaff down somewhere in the ocean.''

Aaron and Cooper had a knife aboard, so whenever the fish surfaced, they would try to cut it. They had hooked the fish on a heavy halibut rod with 120-pound test line.

''It was good heavy line,'' Cooper said, which allowed them to hang on to the fish long enough to wear it out.

Finally, after 2 1/2 hours, they subdued the 7-foot-long halibut and dragged it into their boat.

Cooper, the maintenance manager at the Kodiak Launch Complex, moved to the island 18 months ago from Palmer. He said the family would eat some of the halibut, but would probably give most of it away.

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