Fishing, especially in the ocean, has become so much more about the science than the unexpected. We know the general migrations of salmon, herring, and just about all shapes and sizes of fish. But none are more sought after than halibut, prized for its mild taste and flaky texture. High in magnesium, protein, potassium and vitamins B6 and B12 – halibut is also good for you. The cold water of Alaska is the place to be from July through August but you’d best be prepared for some tricky weather conditions.
I’ve been fishing the waters of Alaska for about 30 years. When it comes to ocean fishing both Seward and Homer offer great opportunities for salmon and halibut. I found that August was the prime time to fish out of Homer, and Charter boat Captain Greg Sutter always had a knack for finding fish.
One such excursion began back in 2014, as we left the Homer Spit. I noticed most of the fleet was heading in a different direction than Capt. Greg was taking us. After about an hour out he brought the boat to a stop and told us it was time to gear up. There were no other boats in sight. My fishing partner whispered her concerns but I trusted Capt. Greg and simply waited to see what would happen.
As lines were baited, I asked how deep we were. “About 200 feet,” was his reply, “so when you catch a big one it will take some time to land.” And it didn’t take long to learn what he meant. Seventy pounds added to a five pound weight might not seem like much, but when the fish doesn’t want to come aboard you have a fight on your hands.
As it would turn out we caught our limit of two fish apiece within two hours. We then moved on to the salmon. I had caught plenty of silvers and pinks in the past but I had never reeled in a King Salmon and certainly not in the ocean. Fighting the dead weight of a 70 pound halibut would seem like child’s play compared to the battle a 30 pound muscle-aching King Salmon would wage.
At the end of the day we had each caught our limit of the two species we pursued – and had just barely enough strength to put our gear away. It was only at the point of landing the last fish that we noticed how much the sea was churned up. Capt. Greg said, “Time to get back to the dock. We’ve got 25 knot winds and the ocean wants a piece of us.”
We had actually maneuvered closer to where we had began, thanks to the fish dictating our course. It was truly a day of catching – not just fishing. If you’ve done both you know the difference.