Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 7 - Prince Rupert to Ketchican...Just for the Halibut!

What a great day this has been! We made it to Alaska! And we had an amazing time getting here. This morning, we left Prince Rupert about 7:30AM. A bit nervous about crossing Dixon Entrance, I wanted to beat the wind and the currents were favorable. We had a smooth crossing. I don' know why I get so nervous about these big waters. It was bout an 85 nautical mile run so we stopped after crossing Dixon Entrance for a little break. We threw down the anchor and decided to try or some Halibut. We don't really know what we're doing when it comes to fishing up here but we talk to folks who seem to for tips, locations, etc. It has been a blast trying to figure out how to do it on our own. Well, do it we did! Within about 15 minutes, Val set the hook and the battle was on. She couldn't even crank it in...the boys had to take turns reeling it in. It takes a while to crank those feisty fighters up from 150 feet. But, after about 10 minutes of battling, there it was. I gaffed it and let it buck until it finally settled down. Val wanted to weight it but it was too squirlly so we threw it in the fish hold and threw the door shut on it while it took out it's rage on the boat. When it finally settled down, it weighed in at 41 pounds!! What a blast. Then it was Cody's turn. About five minutes after Val's fish, he pulled in a ten pounder. I was really glad he caught one but we all decided it was too small and let it go. Within a few minutes, Connor pulled up about a 15 pounder, which gave him quite a work out! "Insane, insane," he kept saying. This was both boys first halibut.It couldn't have been more than 45 minutes later and Val goes and hooks Moby Dick. She screamed for help and we all had to give her a break from the battle. I must admit, it was a tough pull. When we'd get it up a couple feet it would make a run back down. This was a BIG fish! The battle went on for about 20 minutes before we saw it. It was 5' long! I tried to gaff hook it but the moment the gaff went into his flesh, he fought and twisted and about ripped my arm off. I had the gaff chord around my wrist and I thought he was going to break my arm or pull me in so I tried to get the chord off. Thankfully, I did but one more wild twist by the beast and gaff hook went flying out in the ocean and Moby headed straight for the bottom again. Now what? How re we going to land this thing? We all took turns pulling and cranking but the second time he came up easier. I took the boat hook (used to catch docks and push off pilings, etc.) and tried to stick a rope on the end thinking I could shove it down his mouth and through his gills and then cleat him to the boat. He didn't like that idea very well. We tried for 6 times to get that boat hook into him but each time he thrashed and twisted and down he'd go again, but each time coming up quicker and easier. Tow eyelets snapped off the fishing pole and I was expecting the line to bust at any moment. Val kept the line taught and Cody helped guide that big mouth right to the top. Finally, I gave up on the rope idea and rammed the boat hook as hard as I could right down his sunk about 2 feet into him it seems. I gave it a twist, rather, he did it for me and he was mine! Cody and I had all we could do to lift him into the boat. Hugs and high fives around! What an adrenaline rush! This was by far the biggest fish any of us had ever caught and nearly ever seen!About an hour later, we arrive in Ketchikan and took up a slip right beside all the big cruise ships. Town is crazy busy with tourists. We got a wheelbarrow and tried to offload the fish. It took Cody and I three heaves to get it out of the boat and into the wheelbarrow. Turns out, it weighed 109 lbs! So, the next four hours we spent cleaning the bloody boat, butchering fish, and vacuum packaging it using Val's little Food Saver machine. The back deck of my boat turned into a little food packaging operation. While Cody and I were tending to all that, Val and Connor took the little dinghy up the bay to the big Safeway store and bought some dry ice. So, we'll bring the fish, you bring the Chardonnay! That was our day. Oh, yeah, we saw more humpbacks today too. God is so good and has blessed us with so much beauty and adventure while keeping us safe, happy, and comfy. Thank you all for yor notes and prayers. We love to hear from you. I think we'll stay here for a couple of days. It's supposed to blow and I've got some business to tend to. So, call or e-mail...our phones work here great and I get WiFi right on the boat. I like this office! Blessings, all.