This process happens with both crew and fishermen aboard.  Although the launches are pretty tame (the driver backs into the water, hits the brakes, and the boat floats away), being aboard a fast moving boat during the retrieval at the end of the day can be quite the heart pounding thrill ride…

Occasionally they even happen upon one of the fish that inspire so many anglers to try their luck in these waters…

The skidder operator waits until about two thirds of the boat is on the trailer and then accelerates rapidly up the beach to prevent the boat from hitting the bow brace hard enough to cause damage, while the assistant jumps onto the hitch and latches the boat to the trailer.  Considering the number of times per day they do this, they always seem to get it just right.  And considering the number of boats fishing in a relatively small area, the captains always seem to know where the fish are…

You have to immediately decide when catching a fish whether or not you want to keep it.  If not, the fish is released and has a 95% chance of survival.  Once you decide to keep 2 particular fish, you are done fishing for the day and get to play cheerleader for those with lines still in the water.  Our fish were between 35 and 45 pounds each and Kalyn (see weird person pointing at her fish) managed to corral the second largest fish of the day.  The fish on the ground are in the 25-pound range and are the ones most commonly caught nowadays.  The price of the charter ($185 per person) includes filleting…

You will get a better feel for the size of this critter if you know that Dan, the proud fellow holding it, stands 6’8’’ tall.  The fish weighed in at 77 pounds and was the largest caught aboard our boat on this outing.   Our party of 5 caught more than 40 fish that day and kept the 10 largest…

  Alaska 2010 - Part 4                                                         July 3, 2010

This particular trip left from the small fishing village of Ninilchik, located about 35 miles north of Homer.  Due to the extreme tidal changes in this area, the boats have to be towed to the water each day and both launched and retrieved by log skidders…

We ended up with 80 pounds of halibut filets crammed into our freezer and another 5 pounds in an ice chest on my bride’s side of the bed, which she nibbles on throughout the night.  Not being a big fan of actually eating fish, I have spent the past 2 weeks experimenting with various recipes for Tartar Sauce.  If you happen to know of a good one, send it my way!  I had considered including some scenery and wildlife photos in this edition but have decided to leave the focus on fishing.  We’ll include the eagles, sea otters and killer whales next time.  Hugs, ‘til then. Chuck and Zookie  

Vacuum packing, flash freezing and shipping fish costs an additional $2 to $4 per pound which was enough to convince my Norwegian war bride to refuse even the possibility of mailing a fish to my nearly destitute and emaciated brother-in-law.  We opted to vacuum pack and freeze our own…

FISH ON!!!!!  You look forward to hearing those words when bobbing about in the middle of Cook Inlet on a 26-foot boat with a “six pack” of anglers sharing the common goal of hooking the pride of the Alaskan fishery, the halibut.  (A “six pack” is what they call the small boats that take a maximum of 6 anglers per trip.)  Our first visit to Alaska was in 1987 when we rode up on a Harley and headed for Homer to compete in their world famous Halibut Derby.  We spent a day of fishing on the continental shelf, some 60 miles out in the Gulf of Alaska, where we caught and shipped a few hundred pounds of halibut filets back to the “lower 48.”   There were eight fishermen on that trip and each of the 16 fish we kept (the limit is 2 fish per day) weighed in excess of one hundred pounds, with the largest tipping the scales at 185; a pretty decent fish but not even close to the 485 pound behemoth that won the Derby that year.  Those were the glory days!  Today, on average, the halibut weigh in the neighborhood of 25 to 40 pounds with this year’s Derby leader boasting a respectable 248 pounds.   The weather, wind and water surrounding the Kenai Peninsula are completely unpredictable and can turn from warm with light winds and placid seas to a wet, roaring, wind-driven tempest in a matter of minutes.  You always go out hoping for the best but dressed for the worst…