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Thread: Kinda unbelievable.... what was it?

  1. #1
    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    Default Kinda unbelievable.... what was it?

    I went out of seward yesterday in search of some halibut and rock fish. We did really well on the rock fish but we had no luck on the halibut and had some very strange stuff happen. I know this will sound like a typical "fish story" but I figured somebody who knows the biology and whats swimming around down there may be able to give some insight.

    We were anchored up just south of Rugged Is in about 250-300 ft of water. I dropped my down rigger with a chum bag on it like I always do. Let it hit the bottom and then cranked it up about 5 full cranks. Dropped bait on the rods and settled in. About 30 mins later the down rigger starts doing a little dance. I've seen it before and its usually the start to the feeding frenzy when I land on some fish. Ill pick it up and move it around to get the fish away from it and onto the bait. Well I went to start cranking it up and got about 2 or 3 full cranks of the handle and the line tightened up big time. Then the arm started flexing and popping and creaking, not 15 seconds later the base explodes and the down rigger gets ripped off the side of the boat and into the depths. It wasn't moving back and forth just straight down and I could see it flexing up and down like it was being pulled. My question is what is that strong and could have gotten ahold of it? It had I believe 400 ft test wire on it and an 8lb ball.
    Makin fur fins and feathers fly.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Possibly a sleeper shark? We've caught them in excess of 10', and while they seem docile after being pulled out of 2,000' of water, their size leads me to believe they could have some serious strength. The same could be said of salmon sharks or simply a 400 lb halibut.

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    Member AKMarmot's Avatar
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    Any chance it could have been a cable, or old crab pot that you wire got tangled in? I have lost a fair amount of halibut gear over the last few years trying to fish the center of Mary's bay when its to snotty out. One would think we would quit trying but we always seem to manage to hook a snag out there.

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    I don't see why a shark couldn't do that, especially if it was a Cannon downrigger, possibly a Scotty as well.
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    Couple tricks the old timers have told me when using a downrigger as a chum bag.
    1) You don't need to lower the chum bag to the bottom. If you're fishing, say, 300' deep, then putting the chum bag at 150' will work just fine. The scent trail will still work its way back and bring fish under your boat 300' below.
    2) Keep your downrigger drag low. If a monster fish trucks away with your bait bag, the worse that can happen is they spool your downrigger wire and you lose the wire, bag, and the cannon ball. Still a lame loss, but not as bad as the alternative of cranking the downrigger drag and losing the whole downrigger itself.

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    While I have never had it happen to me, I was 'told' by some of the skippers down there that they do not use a chum bag (whether on a pole or downrigger) because large halibut (whatever their definition of 'large' is) have been known to inhale the whole chum bag. Their work around is to create and drop 'bait bombs' -- lots of cut up bait wrapped in old newspaper sent down on a rod. Once they hit bottom, they jerk the rod a number of times to break out the 'bomb' -- thus releasing a lot of bait at depth.

    As to what happened with you, and just speculating of course, but a large halibut grabbed your bag (?) OR maybe one of the sea lions that hang out there?

    Either way, a neat (if expensive) story!

    - Gambler

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    I guess bait bombs would work fine. Another trick I'm going to experiment with is putting like a 40lb test leader between my downrigger wire clip and the bait bag. That way if something big grabs the bag, the leader will snap and all you end up losing is the bait bag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Possibly a sleeper shark? We've caught them in excess of 10', and while they seem docile after being pulled out of 2,000' of water, their size leads me to believe they could have some serious strength.
    Have been studying a bit about sleeper sharks this past year, and am gonna give a +1 to this. Sleeper sharks are actually pretty fast swimmers and cover alot of territory in the water column. They also have the strength to do what you describe ...

    ... wouldn't a gopro camera view have been cool?

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    Another less glorious possibility is that his boat swung like like a pendulum due to current changes or wind. His downrigger ball simply swung into some rocks or other bottom structure and snagged up. The force of his boat shifting position up top may been enough to cause the catastrophe.

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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    I was on a charter out of Seward once and they told me they landed a 200 lb fish with a chum bag in its gut... it was an old onion bag they said. Now I tend to think most of the deck hands are full of crap but I would not doubt that a big butt could eat a chum bag judging by the crap I have found in the guts.

    I think you should have loosend the drag a bit and tried to play the fish a bit...then we would be reading a story about how you landed the new State record halibut on a down rigger.
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    Tho unprovable, my money is on a really great snag!

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    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    My guess would be a mutant Japanese shrimp from Fukushima Japan!!!

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    If a sea lion was in the area, my vote is for one of them. I've had them take bait off the bottom in over 200ft of water.

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    I saw a couple guys with a 312 lb butt on the scale yesterday in Seward. It looked like it could have had a downrigger ball in its belly :-)

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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    I could have been a snag I guess. It definitely felt like it was pulling back though for sure in the brief time I had to mess with it. I didn't get a lot of opportunity to see if I could loosen the drag or play with it at all. After the 2 additional cranks it started pulling pretty hard and after that I had less than a minute before she went overboard. There were sea lions in the area for sure. After we rounded the corner going back there was a pile of em hanging out on some rocks. I had no idea they dove that deep.
    Makin fur fins and feathers fly.

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    If you don't see it, it can be what ever you want it to be

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    A friend fought a snag for 15 minutes once on a halibut rod.
    He said every time the boat would swing on anchor he thought he was gaining or loosing ground.
    He finally realized what was going on and had to cut his line.
    But you never do know for sure unless you see it.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    I always attached my chum bag to the top of my chain on the anchor. The scent always drifted past the boat.
    Ignorance is not Bliss, it's insanity

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