Thankfully, a late high tide meant we didn’t have to get up as early as some folks. We were to chase halibut, and tides make all the difference. Halibut fishing is dictated by the tides and an early tide can mean a roll call as early as three o’clock in the morning. We rolled out of bed shortly after five and assembled in the dining hall. The TRL staff do a great job staying on top of each guests’ schedules, and breakfast was waiting for us as well as packed lunches and a cooler for our catch. We were on the road by six o’clock.
An hour-long drive got us to Ninilchik, where we checked in and meet our captain, Daniel, and first mate, Dylan. The captain’s early speculation that we’d have a calm day were right on the money, and soon we making an hour-long run out into deep waters the Cook Inlet. But first there was the unusual and dramatic launch of the boat. Pictures may better describeit, so you might want to check the Kenai Trip photo album. But it went something like this: We joined the captain in his truck at the fishing charter office, then pulled the trailered boat to a nearby beach about five minutes away. On the beach the captain unhitched the trailer and loaded us and three other clients into the boat. When our turn came about, a lumber skidder hitched up to the trailer and pulled the boat to the water, then backed the trailer into the surf. With the water so smooth, soon we were cruising at 45 knots.
Once on station, 240 feet above the ocean floor, lines were dropped with four-pound sinkers. Within less than ten minutes three of the six rods were bending against the strain of halibut that had taken the bait. Dad was the first of us to pull up a decent halibut…after a lot of cranking on the massive saltwater reel and short stiff rod. Mark was up next to pull up a keeper. Then it was my turn. Lines went back down and we started all over again. Tell you what, the second time you reel up all that line and sinker, every fish feels a bit heavier. Dad’s next fish was a Pacific cod (aka grey cod or true cod). Mark and I pulled up our second halibuts, kept those, and sat back to watch everyone else crank up fish. It didn’t take too long for dad to pull up a second halibut.
The rest of our day on the salt was occupied by good conversation and friendly ribbing between ourselves and the other clients. In talking with one gentlemen, who was fishing with his wife during their anniversary vacation, I found out that the had also attending my alma mater, Humboldt State University, about 12 years prior to me. We also watched as another guy — who had pulled in a few smaller halibut earlier — kept throwing back smaller halibut in the hope of landing a bigger one. He ended up cranking up four decent halibut, one after the other. I don’t know if it was the fact that he was tired or that the next halibut was a tad bigger, but he called it quits with the fifth fish. About one o’clock everyone had their limit of flatfish and he headed back to the beach with Dylan quickly filleting our catch.
Our lodge package included fish processing, so we dropped the halibut fillets off to have the skin removed and the fillets cut into small pieces and flash frozen. Soon dad and I were in the dining hall chatting with other guests while Mark tried to catch a nap. The barbecue dinner was great and shortly afterwards we were again in our bunks, with two of us sawing logs.
Gallery of day three photos from our Kenai fishing trip: