It was supposed to be just a winter king trip with maybe a side of chicken halibut.
However, things turned out a little different. First, after a slow couple hours, a troll line we’d pulled from the downrigger and let drift up before reeling it in got hit. I set the hook and then – something ran without stopping. I applied my thumb only to burn it, then tightened the drag a bit, but the run continued. Captain Rich began to turn the boat as I yelled that half the line was gone (in about 30 seconds), but by the time he did, the reel spool was showing and there was only 4 or 5 wraps of line left. I had to tighten the drag all the way to prevent 300 yards of line breaking at the spool. It broke near the fish, which Rich concluded could only have been a salmon shark. I’ll accept this much more readily than it being a world-record king salmon.
Shortly after, I had what appeared to be a rockfish bite on one of the troll rods – tap-tap….tap…tap…pause…tap-tap. I pulled the rod saying, “Looks like a rockfish,” set the hook, then began reeling in what felt like a decent rockfish. After a few seconds it began to fight a little better, then even took a smidgen of drag. Hey, I thought, something decent. All of a sudden it burned off some drag and moved left, then right, taking more line – king salmon! After several more good runs, I figured it was no ordinary-sized winter king, but then the line went slack. Apparently those “tap-taps” were the fish swallowing the bait, as the line was cut cleanly as if by teeth. Sigh. Two points for the fish, none for us. A small black rockfish followed by a greenling (both released) and we decided to head offshore for some chickens.
Anchored up I began getting hits on the jig immediately. First to the boat - one of the smallest halibut ever hooked, maybe 15” long. Then another. Then a sole I couldn’t identify (small, upturned snout), then a bucket-mouthed great sculpin, then a couple of P. cod, followed by more sole and tiny halibut. Finally, an Irish lord followed by a keeper 15-lb. halibut.
All told, seven species landed and two lost to fight another day. Another fun-filled multi-species winter trip in Kachemak Bay.