Yesterday was the 5th annual crew fishing trip. Since none of my crews ever went to the annual company picnic, I started taking them out on a halibut charter. Much more participation than the picnic. And a heck of a lot more fun.
The day started with a 3 AM roll out. The dog & I got to Seward about 6 and went right to the culvert to let him get a little exercise and take care of his business. We hit the dock at 6:30 and the crews were ready and eager. We had 17 sign up and 20 showed up. Luckily Capt Jimmy of the Perseverance could accommodate all of us. The Fish House runs a good trip.
After the paperwork and briefing we headed out. It was broken clouds over a bit of chop, a nice morning. The pieces of blue sky that convinced me not to drag the rain gear along soon disappeared. I would regret that later, but being an old weather hand, I was confident.
It was a 3 hour ride out to Montague Straights. There was 4-5 other boats in the area when we dropped the hook. It took all of 3 minutes for the first flat fish to hit the deck. In 4 hours of fishing there was never more than 5 minutes that someone wasn't yelling fish on. We had decided at the dock that we wanted to catch lots of fish and didn't care how big. (I got out voted as I wanted that one big one) Well, I did catch the biggest skate of my career, at least 5'+ across. What a log he was to drag in. For the first minute I thought I had won the big fish pool.
We ended up keeping 40 halibut, 3 ling cod, one silver and 2 yellow eye. In all we must have brought in over 90 fish. You know the charter drill, keep the first sizable fish and then start letting them go until you get a big one. Just don't hesitate as Jessie, the deck hand, is pretty fast with the gaff.
After my limit I grabbed a mooching rig and banged a dog fish right away. After 3 of them, the skipper asked if we would stop attracting them to the boat. I waited at least 6 minutes before I couldn't stand it and dropped a chunk of herring down. I love it when you can see your bait and the silvers make a couple of fast passes then shoot out of the gloom to hit it hard. That turned out to be the only silver of the day.
Even though I stood in the rain for a couple of hours, it was a great day. The water was flat and the fish were hitting fast. I was in a 3 way tie for the biggest fish, but lost out by a quarter inch. Then they wouldn't let me count the skate as the biggest "other" fish since I didn't keep it. Then I tried to count the silver, but the lings were bigger. I even tried to get in the most kept fish pool, but no one was buying that. Next year there is going to be a pool for the "best reason to win anything". I can get pretty creative standing there in the rain.
Not that I have to have a reason, but I sure like taking other fishermen's money. Still, at the end of the day, I felt like we all won a little something. Some of the guys had never been on the big water, some hadn't gone out in years, and some started talking about buying their own boat. All the excited talk back at the dock was reward enough. Well, that and a nice bag of fillets.