Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Seventh Birthday to Remember

The First Halibut Expedition for Hunter.

     While we were on our Seward/Homer trip this summer, we were able to get out for a couple of days of But-slaying.  We had to get up early the morning we left Seward so that Uncle James and I could make an afternoon 1/2 day halibut charter.  The half day charters are nice because they cost 100$ instead of $300.  You still get your 2 fish limit and you usually only catch the 25-40 lb fish.  When it comes to pictures the big 300 lb barn door type fish are great, but when it comes to eating them you just cant beat the 25-40 lb tender, parasite free "chicken" halibut.  James and I went out and had a beautiful day.  The sun was out and shining.  There was a little bit of a breeze blowing as well.  James and I caught both of our fish.  Uncle James did need a little help from the deck hands in order to "land" his fish.  :)  It was a little bit of a sore spot for him to have to ask them for some help.  He finally got both of his fish up and on the boat.  

     The next morning James, Hunter, and I were slated for another half day charter.  This would be Hunter's first experience out on the open ocean.  We woke up early and had a little bit of breakfast and then headed for the Homer spit.  We got down there and got checked in.  Once we made our way down to the dock and found our boat (The Jackpot), we started asking hunter if he thought he would be a Salty dog like me or a chunk blower like his Mom.  He was pretty confident that he would be more like Dad.  I think at this point he was a little worried.  To be honest, I was a little nervous for Hunter.  The reason was the rain, wind and waves that were visible in the harbor usually indicate some large seas out where the fishing is done.  Hunter had a little bit of medication on board to make sure this didn't happen.  That is not always a guarantee though.  Tammy had medication on board too the day she chummed the fish all day.  ????  It was about a 45 minute boat ride out to where we would be fishing.  Hunter's meds kicked in and he passed out.  He fell right to sleep in my lap.  The waves were looking a little on the big side.  Even Uncle James was a little nervous.  He played a little tetris to calm his land lubber legs though.  Once we got out there the wind transformed into more rain and the waves seemed to die down a little bit.  The boat was rocking pretty good though.  Hunter and I used the same pole due to the weight of the gear.  I immediately hooked a fish and handed the reel to Huntucky.  The fight was on!  Hunter put the pole through is legs and cranked the reel for all he was worth.  He was sure that this fish was a couple hundred pounds! :)  After about 30 cranks of the reel  he decided he wanted me to reel for a while so his arms could catch their breath.  Bringing halibut up 300 ft off the bottom is a lot of work even if they are only 30 lbs.

     Over the course of the next several hours, Hunter and I reeled up about 7 different halibut. The were all in the 20-30 lb range.  Strangely, Hunter's deep sea 200 pounder was only about 20 lbs upon reaching the surface.  About half way through the charter, Hunter was a little cold.  He asked if he could go inside the boat house.  I knew exactly what the two choices would be for Hunter.  I told Hunter that he could stay outside and fish in the rain and wind or he could go in the warm, diesel fume permeated boat house and rock side to side/up and down and puke his guts out.  Hunter thought about his options for about 5 seconds and decided he would put his hands under his life jacket.  Good choice buddy!  Everyone on the boat found out it was Hunter's birthday and he became quite a celebrity.  The captain said that since it was his first halibut and his birthday, he had to kiss one of the halibut on the lips.  Hunter chuckled and said ok!  This had everybody's attention on the boat.

As they pulled out Hunter's halibut (they had already cut the gills with a knife), Hunter realized that his once pristene emerald green halibut had mutated into a bloody slime infested behemoth in the fish hold.  As the captain held out the primordial ooze covered fish for Hunter to put the moves on, Hunter got cold feet and changed his mind.  He said, " Well maybe not that one! "  Everyone laughed pretty hard.  All in all it was a good day.  Uncle James didn't need any help from the deck hands to catch his fish the second day.  Good job James.  We all caught our limit.  We even saw some sea otters and whales on the way in and out.    

     Once we were back in Homer walking down the spit, we saw the famous "Salty Dog Saloon".  Hunter tugged on my sleeve and asked if he could go in there due to the fact that he was now a "Salty Dog".    

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