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Trip Report Halibut fishing off the Kenai peninsula

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As a part of our longer RV trip to Alaska, we decided to do some fishing of Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula. We chose AFISHUNT CHARTERS. primarily because it was headquartered at the RV park we were staying in (Alaskan Angler RV Resort). An excellent choice. We had several trips to choose from - a 6 hour halibut (ocean) trip, a 8 hour salmon (river) trip, or an 8 hour combo trip (2 hr salmon in the ocean followed by 6 hr halibut). We decided on the halibut trip. DW got some anti-seasickness pills a couple of days before and following the suggestion of the charter staff, she tried it out 2 nights before to see if it affected her adversely. It didn't and she experienced no seasickness. Because the halibut fishing is centered around the slack tide, the start times vary about a hour each day. We eliminated the 4:30 AM start from consideration and decided on the 5:45 AM May 29 trip. Everything is included in the charter, except for the fishing licenses which we bought the day of the trip.

It was a cold morning as we gathered for the trip. I realized that we didn't have gloves, so we picked up a couple of pairs at the RV store. They not only helped with the cold but also for handling the fishing line as it came off the reel. There were 5 others on the trip. Three were repeat customers. We hopped in the 'paddy wagon' in the back of the pickup truck and hauled the boat down to the beach. There were several bald eagles on the beach. At the beach we got out of the paddy wagon and boarded the boat - the 32 ft 'Exciter'. The trailer was unhitched from the pickup and attached to a John Deere tractor that drove us into the ocean. The boat floated loose from the trailer and we set out to sea. The crew was Captain Bob and deck hand Kevin.

The trip to the fishing grounds took about an hour. The sea had a small chop, but no one got seasick. We stopped in 230 feet of water. The tide was running harder than they expected. It is best at slack tide so the line goes straight down and lines don't get tangled. Captain Bob showed us how to use the fishing poles. One thing that is different from other fishing we have done is the 5 POUND sinker. Since halibut are bottom feeders, the idea is to bounce the sinker off the bottom. The big hook is baited with a piece of fish, usually cod.

DW caught the first fish, but it wasn't a halibut. It was an 'Irish lord'. It put up a good fight (but remember, you are also pulling up a five pound sinker!) and was kept for bait. It is a favorite food of halibut, so that was an encouraging sign. DW caught a cod and then the first halibut was caught. The limit is two halibut. You can catch and release as many as you want, but as soon as you have kept our second halibut, you are through for the day. DW was the first to catch two and she decided that that was enough. With the bad luck she has had fishing lately, she didn't want to throw one back and then not catch another!

Meanwhile, I had not even caught my first one. Grrrrr. I had several nibbles but when I was reeled in my line (and 5 pound sinker) the hook was empty. Captain Bob watched me and gave a couple of hints. I let more line out. Too much as it turned out as the still running tide carried the line into the outboard motor. After a while, Captain Bob was able to get my line untangled and I reeled in. Imagine my surprise when there was a halibut on the line! I had had no fight - I guess the fish had worn itself out while the line was tangled in the motor, masking its pulling on the line.

The tide finally slackened. I got re-baited and put the line down, easily telling when it hit bottom. Soon I felt a tug and I set the line. As I started reeling in, it became apparent that I was tangled with another fisherman. He pulled his line up, his pole bending quite a bit. I reeled in mine with no resistance. We guessed that I didn't have a fish, but had just tangled his and he was essentially pulling in the 2 five pound sinkers. Again I was surprised at the sinkers appeared along with a fish - on my line. We had perhaps another 30 minutes left to fish, but since it took me so long to get my 2nd fish, there was no way I was going to throw it back.

Everyone caught their limit of 2 halibut, all about the same size, around 20 pounds. A couple of days before, someone caught one about 80 pounds; the charter record is almost 300 pounds! After returning to shore, the crew plus the ashore crew cleaned the fish. We elected to have ours flown back home to Colorado. Shipping is a little expensive, but we were near the end of our vacation and wouldn't be able to eat it all before we flew home.

The trip was very enjoyable, even for a non fisherman like myself. The view while we were fishing was magnificent, especially the snow capped volcanoes on the far shore.

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