Outdoors: Adventures

Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Living in Alaska often times provides us with many un-planned outdoor adventures. I received a phone call from Jim Ries one evening inviting me to go halibut fishing with him in Homer. So I loaded up the kids and gear and headed to Homer to meet Jim. Unfortunately for us we got caught in the traffic jam in Ninilchik following a serious traffic accident which delayed us over 2 hours and caused us to miss the early tide. We made up for it by spending the evening out there on the water near Seldovia. We fished that evening till 2 A.M. then went to the cabin on Jim's boat for a short nap, I was back up fishing at 4:30 A.M. and one by one my fishing partners all eventually joined me fishing.

The water was smooth and even though we had a little rain the weather was warm. My daughter Jessie had never caught a halibut before so we were determined to get her on to some halibut before she left for college in Mass. Ten-year old Colt McDonald had never been halibut fishing either so we had two members of our crew we were hoping to catch their first halibut.

We set anchor in about 213 feet of water and started fishing halibut using a variety of bait, hooligan, herring, and squid. They were all used with pretty good success. Travis landed the first two fish, a halibut about 30 lbs. and a grey cod.

I like to fillet out the cod as soon as we catch them by cutting along the backbone to the ribs and then shoving the knife through behind the ribs and finishing by filleting it out to the tail. I do not save any belly meat or rib meat, as this is the area that usually has the highest concentration of worms. I then put these odd looking fillets in a cooler on ice. Once I get home I wash them up with cold fresh water and put them in a vinegar salt brine that pulls out all the blood and makes them pure white. I then set the fish in my refrigerator and let the brine clean them up. If there are any worms they are easy to spot the next morning and can be removed. You never taste the vinegar and I think these fish are as good if not better on the table then halibut.

Jessie did manage to catch a halibut but her first fish was only about hand size or perhaps more like a sunfish then an Alaskan halibut. On one occasion she battled a fish for a long time only to finally get it to the top of the water and get a good look at an ugly skate! She was hoping it was a huge halibut and was disappointed to see it was not the fish she had worked so hard to catch. Jessie did manage to catch some really nice cod on this trip and yes she even caught a few more skate, however the big halibut did not cooperate very well for her.

Colt McDonald caught several halibut and a few cod too, considering this was his first trip out on the ocean he did a great job. I think his arms got quite a work out but he never complained and was still there battling at the end. I think it is great to see some of these young kids give it all they got to get this fish to the top of the water. Reeling in a fighting fish of any kind in over 200 feet of water takes a pretty good effort.

Travis caught several fish too and despite getting a little sea sick he survived and had a pretty successful trip too. I think the old halibut reels are about ready to be replaced which would make these kinds of trips much easier on my younger fishermen if the old reels worked a little easier. By the time you get the fish reeled in from over 200 feet you have already had quite a workout.

We pulled anchor at about 3: 30 P.M and headed back towards Homer to do a little rock fishing. We used several types of rubber worms and jigs in about 37 feet of water and did manage to catch several rockfish.

We finally decided to call it a day and head on in only to have motor trouble. Our starter drive went out of our main motor so we started up the 20-horse kicker and headed in however our mounting bracket for that started to break too! I then got on the radio and asked for help and in minutes the boat Shirley Rose showed up and gave us a much-needed tow back to the Homer Dock. If you see this gentlemen in the Homer area who by the way would not take any pay for his kind act, tell him thanks again from all of us for his help. I really can't thank him enough as I really did not feel much like spending another night at sea! See you next week!

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