Today Keely, Kevin, Cole, Celia and Dad got up really early so that we could leave by 5:45 for a half day halibut fishing trip on the Mighty Irish! The sun was just rising as we left the dock, luckily we got the last table inside the cabin so Keely and Celia took that time to doze and try to wake up and warm up with some hot tea. The boys stood out on the deck watching for whales, sea otters and other wildlife.
After about an hour and 45 minutes we arrived at our fishing spot. We were given brief instructions on how to work the fishing rods with three pound weights in the strong ocean currents, and then they started baiting everyone's hooks with a mackerel cut in half. There wasn't a lot of technique to halibut fishing. You let your line out until you feel it hit bottom. If you don't get a bite in the next few minutes you can bounce your bait off the bottom a few times. Keely and Celia were the first ones to feel fish on the line. There was a small wager made on the way out for who reeled in the first fish, so it was a race. What they didn't realize was that reeling in a fish along with the 3 pound weight against the current that was down a hundred feet or so is a lot harder than it seems! After reeling for several minutes their muscles were burning, and they started heating up. Finally, Keely got her fish in the boat but since it was the first fish we didn't know if we should keep it or not. We threw it back to see what else was out there. Celia got hers up and in the boat, and it was a good sized one, so that one went in the bucket!
There were about 18 people total on the boat, and the crew would notch the tail of the fish based upon which family you were with. All of our fish got 2 notches. After about an hour and a half we all had our fish and with a limit of 2, several of us caught and released a couple as well. There were definitely some hang ups getting tangled with the other fishermen on the boat - there were some novices that really had no idea what was happening. Luckily, the crew was pretty used to it and either untangled it quickly or cut the line and had you go get a new one so that you were never out of commision very long.
Overall it was a great experience, and we ended up with 10 fish and about 50 pounds of halibut. We didn't get the "garage door," which is what people call the extremely large, 100+ pound halibut, but we got some that are really good eating!
After fishing we went back to the house, packed up and put the fish on ice for our drive to Seward. The three hour drive was very pretty as we wound into some more of the Kenai fjords. As soon as we arrived we dropped the fish off at a processing location so that it could frozen solid for the flight home on Sunday. We kept out two filets and Celia and Cole made grilled halibut tacos for dinner - it was amazing! The fish was so fresh and Cole grilled it to perfection. After dinner we went for a quick walk down the waterfront path around the town and finally made our way back to the house. We were all pretty wiped out from our early morning so we went to bed, excited for a day where we could sleep in!