Thursday, April 20, 2006

Just for the halibut

Today I was finally indoctrinated into tourism side of Homer, which is known far and wide as the "Halibut Fishing Capitol of the World." (Note the addition of the word "Fishing" to that motto. If you just want to eat a halibut around here, you still have to dish out $12 a pound.) I hooked up with the Chamber of Commerce crew to tag some "little guys" for the annual halibut derby. After we tagged the requisite number of fish, they let us catch a couple of our own.

Compared to the rest of the boat, I had an awful morning. I caught three cod, had four incidents of snagging other peoples' lines, and then nothing - for hours. I just stood out there in the wind and blowing snow, wielding a fishing pole that weighs as much as my road bike and practically tap dancing to maintain an on-board (as opposed to overboard) position in the rising swells. I had taken two Dramamines to ward of seasickness but wound up feeling pitched and druggy instead. After a while it was hard not to ask myself - "and this is fun, why?"

At about noon, I was reeling up what I was certain was another cod, and I was thinking about the Popeye forearm muscles I could build if I did this kind of fishing everyday, when my first flatfish finally surfaced. No sooner had I reeled him in the boat and dropped my line back down when I felt another familiar tap-tap-tap. Second halibut, within seconds. And just like that, I was done. Four hours of nothing. Eight minutes of fishing. Done.

But there is a certain satisfaction, a feeling of warmth and independence, in pulling up your very own "little guy" - one that will net you a cool 10 pounds of moist, melt-in-your-mouth fillets. It makes the whole morning of mindlessly bouncing a four-pound sinker with frozen fingers seem entertaining - even exhilarating. In this way, fishing can be a lot like bicycling. Or mountaineering. Or hitting yourself repeatedly in the head with a hammer. It doesn't feel good until you stop.


  1. Wow.

    So, umm, what do you do with it next?

  2. Well i consider biking like hitting myself with a hammer in another spot on my anatomy. They call it fishing not catching. My bike habit destroyed my fly fishing habit.

  3. I hope you enjoy your tasty halibut filets. I think halibut is tasty, but it doesn't like me. Sole and flounder doesn't like me, either.

    The times I've had halibut and sole, I ended up in a hospital emergency room. I was sweating profusely, my skin broke out in several shades of red, and I started wheezing as if I was having an asthma attack.

    I thought about trying flounder when I was living in North Carolina, but when I saw a flounder looks much like a halibut, I passed.

    I have to say that if I have to have a seafood allergy, I'm glad it's to halibut, sole and flounder rather than to shrimp, lobster and crabs!

  4. Hey you caught more then our son and I did last weekend.

    But then again, he spent half the time lobbing big rocks into the water:-)

  5. Suprising how good Halibut taste given they're scavengers. For those who haven't done it, imagine reeling in a 4x8 sheet of plywood from >=250'.

    That "eye rolling to the other side of the head" thing always freaked me out, too.

    Pan fry the cheeks in garlic if you kept them!

  6. I had always heard the fun part about fishing was the public drunkedness . . .

    personally, I'm scared of boats - they're creepy.

  7. I once heard someone compare catching a halibut to pulling a truck tire off the bottom of the ocean. I've found that to be pretty true, except truck tires don't get within 5 feet of the surface and then dive back to the bottom, forcing you to do the work all over again.

    They're a pain in the butt (er, arms) but damn, they taste good.

  8. Nice looking Halibut! I love Halibut, I ever get up to Ak, we'll have to hook up to fish! That includes your other half and my wife, by the way! ::GRIN::

  9. I used to go flounder fishing as a kid in a coastal river off the Atlantic. They were the same shape but sure never saw anything like that!

    Dad would have had a heck of time cleaning it out in the kitchen sink...


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