From left to right, Roger Wiste, a 433-pound salmon shark, Capt. Matt Kruzick and Bill Huskey pose for a photo following a successful outing Aug. 9 out of Ninilchik. Huskey, of California, landed the shark.
Photo courtesy Matt Kruzick
To say anglers fishing with the Ninilchik Fishing Club had a good year would be like saying Bill Gates makes a decent living.
Steve Moe and his wife, Vivian, own the high-end fishing lodge in Ninilchik, and each year they bring in dozens of 100-pound-plus halibut from the waters of Cook Inlet.
But this year was a little special, as anglers fishing with the Moe’s guides not only took first and second place in the Ninilchik Halibut Derby, one even reeled in a genuine sea monster.
“We had a great year,” Steve Moe said Thursday.
Fishing with skipper Matt Kruzick on Aug. 9 aboard the “Seeker,” California angler Bill Huskey got more than he bargained for. While fishing for halibut, Huskey hooked into a 433-pound salmon shark that measured more than eight feet in length.
Salmon sharks are common in Cook Inlet, but to land one is rare on account of their habit of spinning wildly when hooked. But Huskey was able to land his shark, and is now hooked on Cook Inlet fishing maybe for life.
“He’s already re-booked for next year,” Moe said.
Although Huskey’s catch was special, Moe said the trip was made more memorable for him because of the reaction of Huskey’s wife.
“She just wanted to catch a 30-pound halibut,” Moe said. “We caught three over 100 pounds with her.”
Moe said that type of client is rare, and the fact that the Huskeys had such a good trip was one of the highlights of his season.
“It makes my summer when I get that kind of person,” he said. “They were just overwhelmed.”
The shark was the largest fish Moe’s clients landed all summer, but not the most valuable. That distinction belongs to the 365-pound barn door hauled in by John Ierman of Los Angeles that won the Ninilchik Halibut Derby’s $2500 grand prize.
Moe pointed out that Ierman’s fish dwarfs the 310-pounder currently leading the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. In fact, the second-place fish in the Ninilchik derby also caught by one of the Moe’s clients was also big enough (311 pounds) to lead the much larger Homer derby.
Ierman’s catch is also the largest halibut to be entered into a local fishing derby since 1996, when the Homer derby was won by a 376-pounder caught by a Minnesota angler.
Although excited about having such a productive season, Moe said he’s not getting too excited about the whole affair. After all, after nearly 25 years fishing the inlet, he said catching monster fish is all just part of the business when you’re fishing Cook Inlet.
“We do pretty good down here,” he said.
Anglers hoping to top the inlet’s reigning derby champ have until Sept. 30, the last day of the Homer derby, to challenge for this year’s bragging rights.
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