Day 67: Halibut Fishing in Ninilchik

Day 67: Sunday, July 21, 2013

A beautiful, sunny day to fish! Our fishing charter with A Fish Hunt Charters left from here in our RV park. We walked to the office at 6:45 to purchase fishing licenses and then traveled to the beach in a passenger van pulling our boat the Afishhunt II. Karen and Mike from Minnesota rode with us. Jonathan and Kelly met us at the beach. We would be fishing through the slack tide.

When we arrived in the beach the tide was going out and the sea was calm. A big relief to me! We boarded the boat by climbing up a ladder and sat in the cabin while the skidder backed us into the water. Captain Seth headed into Cook Inlet for our 45 minute ride to the fishing spot. We spotted a few sea otters on our way out and enjoyed the view of the volcanoes on the other side of the inlet. The sea was like glass. I couldn’t believe our luck!

After arriving at our fishing spot first mate Joey dropped anchor and gave us a lesson in Halibut fishing 101. The Halibut lie on the bottom of the sea floor so you catch them by bottom fishing. With a huge 5 lb. weight on the line and a baited circle hook, you let out the line until it hits bottom and wait for a nibble. In about 120 feet of water we had to let out a lot of line.

The limit on Halibut is two fish per person per day. If someone catches a fish that is too small, they can throw it back and continue fishing. When you keep a fish, it counts toward your limit. When you reach two, you give up your reel. The average size is around 20 pounds although some were much smaller and some were bigger. They all looked huge to me!

It didn’t take long before people started reeling in fish. Mike was enjoying the sport of catching the fish and also was going for a really big fish so he threw back about 12 before he kept his two. Everyone else threw back a couple before reaching their limit. Except me.

I caught my first fish before Henry caught his first!! It was a pretty good size so I kept it. It takes a while to reel in a big fish with 5 lb weight 120 feet from the bottom! It was hard. Joey was there to grab the line to pull it into the boat and get it off the hook. No question. I was keeping it!

I caught my second fish and turned in my reel before Henry caught his first fish! I grabbed my camera and my sandwich and enjoyed watching the action the rest of the trip. Kelly was hoping for a really big fish and threw back a pretty big one to continue fishing. After throwing back several small ones she was the last one fishing. She kept on going until she got a nice one. By then it was time to head back to the beach.

Getting out of the water is the reverse of being launched. The skidder backs the trailer into the water and the captain drives onto the trailer. The skidder pulls up to the beach, unhooks the trailer and goes off to get the next boat. It all happens really fast. We climbed down the ladder to the beach where our friends Ted and Ruth Ann were waiting to greet us. The excited fishermen piled into the van to go back to the campground for pictures and the cleaning of the fish.

A perfect day! Beautiful weather, calm seas, excellent crew, fun fellow fisherman. It was great.

Henry and I had 24.2 lbs of filets between us. We kept some and had the rest vacuum sealed, frozen and shipped home.

Ted and Ruth joined us for dinner. We followed Seth’s recommendation of dipping the fish in butter, wrapping it in foil with lemon and garlic and seasoning, and cooking it on the grill. Henry cooked it to perfection and I made some more red rice for Ted. A delicious feast to end the day.

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