Fish Tails – Reel Events & Stories…

… if you enjoy both fishing and reading, you’ll want to read about the special times that were had in many of the amazing BC fisheries. These are just some pages of fishing stories etched in the memories of guys who fish for the moment.


Big fish… small gal!


Beginners luck? Lady luck? Or making the most of a great opportunity?


It’s early September. The west side fishery might have another couple of weeks left. At this point it feels like it’s been a long season. I have a day off from guiding, but I am not taking a day off from fishing. It’s been too good out there to sleep the day away. Besides, Kristy would love to get out at least a couple more times.


The tides in the narrows allow for me to get a little more much needed sleep. After I have a quick bowl of cereal, I take a casual 9 minute stroll over to the marina to meet Kristy who has already done her thing by removing covers, setting up all the gear, turning on all the power and warming up the engines. I didn’t even have to undo any ropes!


I still feel a bit groggy as I taxi the boat out of the marina. The boat is throttled up onto step and I slide my side window open to force cool salt air in my face. It’s refreshing and I immediately begin to feel clear headed. The water is calm, not glassy calm, but calm with a ripple. So, I reach over, flip on some Sirius Radio, sit back and enjoy the ride.


The marine forecast calls for NW winds 10 to 15 knots increasing to 20 to 30 knots late in the afternoon. This gets me thinking that this may be our last crack at some those bottom critters. Bottom fishing had been great at a particular new “deep spot”. So, I run the idea past Kristy and she gives me an immediate “scrunchy” face. I don’t blame her. What few outings she’s experienced for the bottom dwellers have been less than desirable. Her bottom outings have included big swells, uncooperative fish and snaggy bottoms. Now salmon fishing is an entirely different ball game for her. She can go for hours without any action in rough water and pouring rain. Hmmm… go figure? Anyway, she agrees to a few hours or a few fish. Which ever comes first.


We reach the spot on the GPS. The mains are turned off and the trolling motor is thrown in reverse to keep the wind and waves from pushing us off the spot too quickly. This is one of those spots where regardless of the wind and tide, it always seems to drift in a northerly direction.


I pull down the light jigging outfits which are G Loomis Pro Blue Jigging Rods PBR 785-C teamed with Avet SX 6/4 Two-Speed Reels loaded with 50-lb braid line. I figure that both Kristy and I will be a little more sporting and a lot less fatigued at the end of the day. On the business end, I’ve kept it simple. Just a 16 oz jig head with a white 8-inch scampi attached to an 18-inch 100-lb mono leader.


A quick look at the sounder shows 390 ft and dropping. Down goes my scampi and about a minutes later I’ve made contact with the bottom. The sounder now reads 410 feet. A few cranks up and into the rod holder my rod goes. I walk over to the other side and Kristy is still descending her scampi. I wait for her to reach the bottom, so that I can give her a quick refresher. She finally hits the bottom and I give her a quick, but very very specific demo on how I expect her to dance her jig before I hand the rod back to her. I then remind her to check for bottom now and again before I tend to my own rod again. I give my rod three very very specific jig movements and I’m connected! Feels like a ling. “I know… I know… how can I tell 400 feet down what it is?” Anyway, I glance over my shoulder to see that Kristy is doing her own funky jigging action. Absolutely not the way I demoed it to her. I am about to tell her to do it the way I showed her, but I bit my lip and refrained (sometimes it’s a judgment call if you know what I mean). Then I am about to tell her to come over to reel up the ling on the end of my line which is now tugging like about a 15-pounder. “I know… how can I tell it’s about a 15-pounder when it’s over 400 feet down?” Just as the words are about to leave my mouth, I am matched with the exclamation of “I think I’ve got something!!!”. Without even looking over, I question her. “Are you sure?” This time she replies “Yes, I’ve got one!” I look over to see her rod heavily arched. I strain to study the arch and ask myself, “is it bottom?” Then I see the tell tale sign of a slow spongy throb. “Holy cr@p! Not only has she hooked a fish she hooked a halibut!” The light jig rod remains heavily arched. Then it was as though it realized that something was wrong and began a powerful surging run of a couple hundred feet. This was followed by a series of violent head shakes. Then it was dead weight. And the workout begins. With the rod but tucked under her right arm and her left hand supporting the fore grip of the rod while the left elbow braces against her mid section, she begins working the fish up. Judging by the resistance of the fish, I called it to break the century mark, but because of the new lighter action rod, I didn’t know how much over. At a generous 5’4″ and buck twenty-five, I thought this would be a good challenge for Kristy. After about 20 minutes she had the fish up about 200-ft off the bottom according to the depth sounder. Halfway there! That was fairly quick, but maybe too quick as I could tell she was wearing down. A few words of encouragement and she continued to challenge physical ability. Another hundred feet and I begin to ready the harpoon tips to their blue buoys. Then I ask “would you like to try doing the honors?” Without hesitation, she replies back “really?” With a slight smirk of gratification, I could tell her reply was more of a yes than a question. Harpooning her own fish would cap off this great battle. Finally the sounder shows it’s no more the 20-ft below and I look over to search for color. I have a visual and it looks ominous coming out of the dark green depths.


Kristy has seen how the harpoon works on a previous fish one month earlier and I gave her another once over on her final role in landing this large hali. We make the switch when the fish is near the top. I am careful to not pull the fish’s head out of the water in fear of the fish will panic and rip all the way back to the bottom. The fish is surprisingly cooperative and I lead it around to lay it flat for her to deploy the harpoon tip.


Kristy is visually excited and nervous. She lines the tip up just behind the pectoral fin and in one lunging motion she plunges the tip in and releases it. The fish goes ballistic and drags the single blue buoy across the surface for a solid 30-yds. She doesn’t feel confident that the tip made it through. So, she takes the rod again and reels the fish back. At this time, I have readied another harpoon tip (always have back-up). The fish I positioned again. She has a clear shot and takes it! This time she feels good about her shot. It went through easily. The fish thrashes at the surface wildly for half a minute and then calms next to the boat. I hook a gaff into its lower lip and I begin to pull it over the side. Usually, I’m good for pulling a halibut up to about a buck-twenty over the side of the boat, but I had to withdraw from my attempt and reposition my grip of the gaff. During this next attempt I also had to push with my foot on the gunwale to get the fish all the way in until it landed onto the deck with a thud.


A high-five and a “wha-hoo” signaled a job well done! This beauty measured 73-inches in length and weighed 183-pounds! This was once in a lifetime fishing experiences for Kristy. An opportunity and a moment we’ll both never forget!

A calm water photo opt for Kristy and her big halibut.