For years, Colorado's Jerry Arguello has had to endure ribbing from the avid outdoorsmen on his wife's side of the family regarding his fishing skill and experience.
Come the long weekend of July 4, it will be time for those outdoorsmen to eat their words. Literally.
Tuesday afternoon, the 44-year-old Arguello landed a 305-pound halibut while fishing in Cook Inlet about 18 miles out from Ninilchik.
Arguello said the fine white meat should be perfect for the family fish fry he plans to have in Littleton, Colo., on July 3.
"I'm going to give them a call right after this," said Arguello Tuesday as he was having the fish processed.
"I'm going to tell them to have their big appetites ready."
The relatives might even want to save some room for humble pie.
"The avid outdoorsmen on my wife's side of the family are always getting on me about fishing more," said Arguello, the vice president of a construction company. "When I get back, I guess I'll have bragging rights for a few years."
Arguello is in the midst of a week-long fishing and sightseeing vacation to Alaska with his wife, Fran, and son, Aaron. The trek began Thursday and will end Friday.
He already had been on a halibut trip that netted a little over 100 pounds of fish, and a fruitless salmon trip, when he set out on the inlet with Rod 'N' Real Charters Tuesday at 10:15 a.m.
Captain David Hubbard of Anchor Point and deckhand Mike Nerup of Palmer brought the six anglers aboard to a 275-foot hole that Hubbard had discovered Monday.
The group was mostly in 60- to 80-pound fish until Arguello's 15-year-old son landed a 135-pound fish. Carter Sandahl, who is from Washington, followed with a 145-pounder.
Shortly after, Arguello continued the upward trend by latching onto his 305-pounder.
"Mine was the last one to hit," Arguello said. "When I felt it, it was, 'God, I'm going to have to reel this thing up?'
"It felt like I was bringing in an anchor. For every foot I would reel in, it seemed like it would take two feet."
After about 45 minutes, Arguello finally got the beast to the side of the boat. Nerup harpooned the fish, but it took the buoy and headed back to the briny deep.
"It was like in the movie 'Jaws,'" Arguello said of the halibut's taking the buoy under the water. "I thought, 'Oh, man, I've got to reel up all that line again.'"
After about 15 minutes, Arguello got the barn door to the side of the boat again. This time, Hubbard took nearly all the life out of the fish by pumping it with six bullets.
It took seven people to heave the lunker aboard -- an exhausted Arguello was understandably excused from the activity -- and when the halibut hit the deck, so did the hook.
"The hook was totally straight when it hit the deck," said Hubbard, who brought home his biggest fish ever in 10 years of being a captain.
"It must have been held in by the barb."
As for Arguello, he said his first trip to Alaska by far exceeded his expectations.
"It was exciting for me to be there when my son was landing his 135-pounder, and he was excited for me while I was landing my fish," said Arguello, who will conclude his Alaska fishing today on the Kenai River.
"I'm sure it was a day we'll both remember for the rest of our lives."
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