North Pole man lands 322-pound halibut

Posted: Sunday, September 02, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Larry Davis of North Pole knew he had a big halibut on the end of his line.

Just a few days earlier, he'd caught a 230-pound halibut and he could tell this one was considerably larger.

''Just from the raw power you could tell this one was a lot bigger,'' said Davis, who was fishing a week ago on a charter in the Gulf of Alaska out of Valdez. ''I knew I had at least a 300-pounder or better.''

He was right.

After a half-hour battle between man and fish, Davis, with the help of captain Dave Wiley, pulled a 322.6 pound halibut over the railing of the Orion.

''I've always wanted to get on one of those big barn doors,'' Davis said.

The fish is believed to be the largest halibut ever caught on sport tackle out of Valdez, according to Wiley, owner of Orion Charters. The previous unofficial record among charter operators was a 315.6-pounder caught last year.

Only a handful of 300-pound halibut have ever been caught out of Valdez.

Davis hooked the fish only 30 minutes after Wiley set anchor in the Gulf of Alaska. It took the 54-year-old Davis, who is built like a lumberjack, only about 30 minutes to bring the fish to the boat.

''He made a lot of short, power runs,'' Davis said. ''He'd stop and thrash around a little bit and I let him thrash. Every now and then you get an opportunity to get some line in.

''You don't fight those big ones; you don't horse them,'' he cautioned. ''You just take your time.''

Once he got the fish to the surface, Wiley harpooned the halibut and put a shark hook in the mouth to help haul it over the railing of his 28-foot boat. The only other people on the boat were Davis' 80-year-old mother-in-law and his daughter. Davis had booked the boat for six people but three friends backed out.

The two men managed to haul the 88-and-a-half-inch fish over the side of the boat. It's the first halibut that's been longer than Wiley's boat is wide.

''His head was hitting on one side and his tail was hitting on the other side,'' Wiley said.

With what he figures to be about 200 pounds of halibut now packed in the freezer, Davis said he still has plenty of room for the moose he's hoping to bag in the next few weeks.

''I've got a couple of freezers,'' he said with a grin.

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