Labor day weekend part I. Dorian and Goliath.
Three days to commemorate this summer and we decide to spend them south, as far south as we can drive that is. We spent the Labor Day weekend in Homer, camping errr cabining and fishing. We found a quaint little, and I mean little, cabin down near Homer to hang our hats for the weekend. But first, Dorian and I had to venture down ahead of the rest of the crew to do a little fish scouting. So we embarked from Homer, as we have done several times, hoping to tempt the giants of the deep; the Homer Halibut. As we headed out on the shimmering, sunny flat calm day, we had no idea if we would be fighting off sharks or pulling up slabs of white tender meat, but either way, we were going to try.
Within one hour Dorian had landed a nice 20 pound halibut, dad had zero. Within another 1/2 hour Dorian’s rod started peeling line as he was loosely holding it on his lap, and he reared back hard to set the hook. The rod tip never even moved up. Then he began reeling, and reeling and reeling. Finally, while I waited with gaff in hand, he said “dad I need help. I need the belt”. I was sure he had a solid 50 pounder on the line. So I took the rod so he could get the belt and I felt the tug. Now I have caught a few halibut in my day so I consider myself a good judge of size. This was way more than 50 pounds. “Dorian grab the harpoon while you are at it” I yelled. Knowing I would need much more than a gaff if I wanted to maintain the bone structure in my arms. Just then my rod goes down, as we had left it unattended while we dealt with rod one. Not sure what I had, I left it be while we dealt with the rod at hand.
Finally with the fighting belt in place with many minutes and many tugs, he managed to get it near the surface. In the water I estimated it to be over 5 feet long, but I didn’t sit back and look, I immediately began debating whether or not we should keep it, and that lasted for about 1/10th of a second as I reared back and harpooned the flat giant. It did not like that. It thrashed hard against the boat drenching both of us with the glittery gold water, which to be honest was a refreshing welcome, as my heart was pounding and I was dripping sweat in anticipation. I loaded up again and put another in her, concerned that she may break free. That settled her down and we both realized that Dorian had just landed a trophy, likely a once in a lifetime fish. I then rushed over and tended to my rod. As I reeled up my pole, the 30 pounder felt like a feather compared to what we had just dealt with. None-the-less, I swallowed my pride and landed it happy to have the meat.
We left the trophy in the water as it would’ve taken up the whole deck, while I finished fishing. The bite was on and we wanted to catch our final fish, which would have limited us both out. I was getting bites and decided that my bait had been decimated, and as I was reeling up to check, I did my little reel pause just in case. Now the reel pause has worked once, maybe twice ever in my lifetime, just enough for me to keep doing it. Well this day was the third time as 70 feet below the surface my reel spooled line like Usain Bolt was running the 100 yard dash with it. I could tell it was a nice fish, but not like we had just dealt with. After a few minutes, I managed to get it to the surface and realized it too would need a harpoon, but those were still hanging in the other fish. I handed the rod to Dorian and quickly ( at least the way I remember it was quickly. Dorian has other memories) removed one harpoon head from the trophy halibut, loaded it up and had Dorian gently lift its head, careful to keep it in the water. Slam, perfect shot. We had limited out. Now to get Dorian’s fish on the boat.
With some creative engineering, we rigged up a large tie up line through her gills, and after clearing the deck of all remnants of gear, we both gave her the old heave ho. I knew if we didn’t get her the first time we would have to go to plan B. Plan B involve a long slow ride back to the harbor with But in tow. We managed to wiggle the head over the rail and we both fell backwards as we slid her on deck. Success.
Unbeknownst to me, getting her on the boat was the easy part. Upon arriving at the harbor, we then had to transfer that slab off the boat onto a Costco type flatbed trailer, without dropping her back in the water. No small feat, but one accomplished. The next trick, pulling that trophy loaded trailer up the ramp to the cleaning station. Now if you have never been in a boat harbor, then you might not realize that harbors float. They rise and fall with the tide. So the ramp rises and falls as well. At high tide in Homer, it is almost as flat as Missouri. At low tide it is closer to Mt. McKinley. By the grace of God, we were closer to Missouri. As we motored our way over to the ramp, amidst the oohs and ahhs of the clients disembarking from their charter boats with their limit of 20 lb. halibut, I knew we would once again have only one shot at getting up the ramp. If we stop, if we rested, we were likely done. We decided that dad would pull and Dorian would push. In hindsight, probably not the best strategy for if I was to slip, Dorian would be run over by the near 200 pounds of fish and steel. Alas, we made with dad’s checks beat red as the blood from the fish, huffing and puffing all the way.
At the top of the ramp we, with some help from the myriad of onlookers, were able to get the fish up on the picture hooks and snap some shots. Tracy showed up just as we were finishing up and all the kids got to see Dorian’s pride and joy. After another hour of fish cleaning, and an over flowing cooler, we were off to dinner and onto the cabin to check out our digs for the weekend. That was day one. Stay tuned for day two.