Halibut Fishing - Homer, Alaska
Alaska is known for its amazing fishing opportunities, with one of the most popular being halibut fishing out of Homer, Alaska. Why is it so popular? Maybe it's because of the non-stop fishing action; sometimes you can't even drop your line to the bottom before you hook into a halibut. It could be the chance of catching a "barn door" halibut; every year people catch halibut out of Homer in the 200-300 pound range or larger. Or it could be the ease of access; you can catch halibut right out side of the small boat harbor. These reasons make Homer, Alaska the "Halibut Capital of the World."
We had a good feeling as we headed out of the Homer small boat harbor. The weather was perfect, blue skies and virtually no wind. As we made our way across the glassy waters of Katchemak Bay, rafts of sea otters looked on as Cody took a turn driving the boat. After a 20 minute boat ride we arrived at "the spot." We dropped anchor and started preparing our rods. When halibut fishing we normally use a halibut rod, which is a short, heavy action rod combined with a large reel full of 80 to 100 pound strength line. However, these rods are very heavy and cumbersome and are difficult for young children to use. So we took some salmon rods along as well.
After baiting the hooks with herring, we dropped down to the bottom and immediately our rod tips were greeted with the familiar, tap, tap, tap. It wasn't long before we had our first fish on. The salmon rod tip jerked and pulled down. Luke pulled up on the rod and reeled in line. Soon we were catching a glimpse of our first fish. What looked like a spiny piece of seaweed appeared with its mouth agape. It wasn't a halibut, the fish was an Irish lord. Soon all of the rods were tapping, tap, tap, tap...Irish lord after Irish lord. While we were debating on a move to another location, the end of my rod started tapping harder and harder. Line started spooling off my reel, this was a Halibut!
Sure enough, a dark, wide shadow emerged from the depths; 50 pounds, 40 pounds, well maybe a 30 pounder but a nice fish none the less. As the fish thumped against the deck of the boat we unhooked it and threw it in the cooler. All the other rods were getting action, another Irish lord, a halibut (this one we let go), and another fish that was pulling out line. Halibut started adding up in our cooler.
Cody's rod tip touched the water as he pulled up on a large halibut. The gaff swung into the water and brought the 60 pound halibut into the boat. It was a large fish for a 7 year old boy! A little later, Luke was in a battle of his own. With a little help from Dad, a large halibut appeared at the surface. "It's as big as the boat," Cody screamed! This halibut would take more than a gaff. Papa Joe grabbed his pistol out of its case (Luke had caught what is known as a "shooter" halibut). Shots rang out and the halibut dove. The next time we saw it, Papa Joe was ready with the harpoon. The halibut came near the boat and Papa Joe drove the tip of the harpoon behind its head. Luke had succeeded in catching a 100 pound halibut, 30 pounds larger than himself! We caught a couple more halibut, decided to call it a day, and headed in. When the 8 halibut we caught were cleaned and wrapped for the freezer, we had over 150 pounds of fillets to sustain us through the winter. What a day fishing, a day our kids will never forget!