Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Alaska is Tough. It's the First Word You Should Use to Describe That State.

Last week was the first time I've caught a fish so big that it required a gun to subdue it and bring onboard.

Last week was the first time I've boated through an actual fjord, seeing wild orcas jumping and humpback whales showing their dorsals fins, between snow-capped mountains.

And last week was the first time I've held a Smith & Wesson .50 caliber handgun.

Bringing a halibut that's over 50 pounds onto a boat through 200 feet of water makes me wish I'd spent more time in the gym working my biceps and forearms. God damn, you can't imagine just trying to pull even the four-pound weight through 200 feet of water -- much less a 56 pound halibut (pictured above).

Going to Alaska, prepare for the worst, and expect the best. I brought all kinds of cold weather gear -- expecting not to need it -- and used it all. Catching halibut requires standing holding a heavy rod and steely Penn reel on a boat for hours while getting rained on and the boat rolls and pitches, weeding out all non-hackers (there were a few) who turned pukey gray-green.

In Alaska, the limit for halibut is two per person per day and we met that limit all three days we fished. I came home with 85 pounds of halibut fillet in big wax-coated cardboard boxes that I checked as luggage.

This state was the only place I've been where pretty girls gut and fillet big fish faster and better than 99% of the men in the northeast USA. (Come to think of it, how many men do you know who have gut a fish even once?)

There were a bunch of union reps at our lodge. One of them brought a .50 caliber pistol to protect against bears while fly-fishing. And this is -- in case you know nearly nothing about guns -- the most bad-ass handgun ever created by humankind:

Me, in front of a bona fide glacier. We could hear it calving, which sounds like canon fire:

The crabbing boat Time Bandit had a tourist shop selling trinkets in Homer. Out front was one of the crab pots from Deadliest Catch, the TV show:

Said pretty girl, gutting our fish:

The smaller halibut I caught (larger one above):

Once again, after an excruciatingly long absence, the world is spinning properly. I now remember you being invited on that trip, thinking how far off in the distance that was.

Did the man-cruise ever happen? Am I jumping the gun? Just tell me to shut up.

You need a tripod just for the end of that frickin barrel.

And tell us, can you see Russia from there?

Tell me when you go to Bricktown. I'm serious.
This is one of my favorite posts, ever, on this blog. Great fish and it looks like a great time.

And, living in rural NY (as in, more than an hour outside the city), most of my friends know how to gut a fish, and if they don't, one of my requirements is that they let me teach them how to.

Pike. Now thats a fun fish to fillet.
holy crap thats a big gun? did you get to shoot it? probably not but one can hope.

the first pic of you holding up the bigger halibut is hilarious.
"Bringing a halibut that's over 50 pounds onto a boat through 200 feet of water makes me wish I'd spent more time in the gym working my biceps and forearms. God damn, you can't imagine just trying to pull even the four-pound weight through 200 feet of water..."

You can't say I didn't warn you.

85 pounds of fillets from six fish is doing pretty well. Did you go all three days out of Ninilchik?

How the hell did you know I stayed in Ninilchik? Are you stalking me??
Even without the bin labeled "Chihuly," I had a strong suspicion that the photo of the filleting girl was taken in Ninilchik (charters from most other towns process the fish at a wharf where the guts can be conveniently disposed of, and they don't have to tow their boats back to the office).

I've been on several halibut charters out of Ninilchik, though not with that particular outfit.

Ah, ok. I suppose anyone who'd been there would spot that right off.

It wasn't 85 lb from 6 fish. There were 4 of us fishing for 3 days. We each caught our limit of 2 fish per day each day so it was a total of 24 halibut and a two salmon for the trip. The total weight of the two boxes of frozen fillets was about 91 pounds.

You should go with Chihuly. Mark Chihuly was our captain. Very personable, professional, and solid solid boat which Mark build himself.
There you are. I was getting worried. Nice to see you back on the Interwebds.

I only asked because you mentioned passing through a fjord, and was curious whether you also took a day out of Seward or Whittier.

"You should go with Chihuly."

I'll keep him in mind. Normally, our choice of charter is dictated by whatever discount coupon/drawing winning/invitation from a friend we happen to receive, but we're still looking for a "go to" outfit when the trip's entirely on our nickel.
That gun shouldn't even be called a pistol. Did it come with a tripod?
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