Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Alaska: Day 3.
We drove out to Sisters this morning beneath threatening skies but also facing beautiful snow-capped sunlit mountain tops in the distance. Sisters is apparently named for an underwater "landmark" of two flats 200 feet below the surface surrounded by a large area of 400-foot deep water. Another boat – not from our camp – was in the same spot where we anchored up. Fishing for halibut began along with a new feeling of, "I almost don't want to catch one." After my experience yesterday I knew what it meant to have to drag that thing to the surface. Thankfully, it's so thrilling you ALMOST forget how hard you're working. Dad brought up a big one first and I was glad to have the rush without the work, but shortly after that it was my turn.
It's incredible when these things not only resist your pull, but also take the extremely tight line on your reel OUT while you're trying to drag them in. In order to land this first fish (and many after I found out) I had sit on the handle of the rod, reel with my right hand and raise and lower with my left arm to gain any line while I struggled to bring it up. My rod tip was almost in the water while the center of the rod was at the highest point. Then I'd lean back and pull/lift, and when I couldn't bring it up any higher, I'd let it all back down slowly, keeping the line taught, while I reeled like hell. You do this about 100 times and then the thing surfaces and you about die at the size and pray that the guy with the shark hook can stab it in its jaw while the whole mess of line and lead ball and huge hook furiously thrash against the side of the boat.
And then you thank god when the fish finally comes up over the gunwale.
After this you just sit there while your arms throb and you get your breath back thinking, "There's no way I can do that again."
But eventually, you slowly re-rig your bait, put your line back in, and gently hope you get to watch someone else bring one in before you have to do it again. We did this all morning. The sun came out in full force and despite losing an hour fishing because Brad's line got caught up on something on the bottom, I caught two more before we maxed out with our eight around noon.
Unfortunately, early on we kept one that was too small, and in our final push 3 of us had fish on at the same time. The last one to come up was Brad's but we'd maxed out by then and he had to put back one of the bigger fish of the morning.
We trolled for salmon along Home Shore the rest of the day but only caught black bass, one dolly and one pink. This was despite the ceaseless jumping of salmon all around us. I think everyone was exhausted and combined with relatively calm water, bright warm sunshine and the incredible views, we spent a nice lazy afternoon. It was the only time I took off my top layer and wool hat all week.
Some landmarks and locations I've learned:
We fished 9 hours today. My first catch today was about 50# and the consensus was I brought the biggest into the boat.