Team Fish Sniffer Greeted By Silver Salmon And Halibut During Annual Alaskan Adventure To Captain St
We already had full limits in the box and I was just getting ready to reel up when I felt the first few tugs. No matter how big the fish was it would have to be released, but I was determined to play out the strike. After all, an entire salmon head was pinned on one of my massive 16/0 circle hooks and I was determined to see what had come knocking.
With the rod butt tucked into my left hip I got into position to reel and waited. The bite went from light tugs, to heavier tugs to a hard steady pull. Cranking the reel handle slowly while easing up on the rod tip I slid the circle hook home and immediately felt the surge of a powerful fish.
My unseen adversary was determined to stay on the bottom 260 feet below the boat. I was equally determined to bring the fish up and I was armed with a stout rod teamed with a Penn 6/0 reel. I turned the reel handle slowly, kept the rod loaded and steadily inched the fish toward the surface.
Finally about 5 minutes into the fight a ghostly brown apparition materialized off the starboard side and a beat later I had a clear view of an impressive 45 plus pound Pacific halibut.
Any other time my halibut would have made a happy addition to our fish box, but on this day with a full load of fish aboard the halibut earned a round trip ticket.
After posing for a quick photo I flipped the fish back into the Cook Inlet. My halibut was the last fish landed by Team Fish Sniffer on the final day of our 2013 trip to Captain Steve’s Lodge on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. What a way to wrap up a fantastic fishing trip that included both red hot saltwater fishing and lights out river salmon action. Let’s rewind back to the beginning…
The 2013 Fish Sniffer Adventure kicked off on the morning of August 1 when Mark Sauer, Margaret Sauer, Gary Krause, Larry Medeiros, Dana Covert and I met up at the Sacramento airport and boarded an Alaska Airlines flight headed to Seattle where we’d transfer to flights headed for Anchorage and ultimately Homer.
We arrived in Homer at around 3:30 in the afternoon and found LeAnne Smith, Captain Steve’s wife, waiting at the airport to drive us back to the lodge about 30 miles to the north in the town of Ninilchik.
We were a tired group after a full day of travel. Once back at the lodge we stowed our gear in our rooms, enjoyed a tasty dinner and turned in early. The plan was to be loaded up and on the road well before 6 o’clock the next morning. Halibut and silver salmon were on a good bite in the Cook Inlet and we couldn’t wait to get after them.
Morning came quickly and before we knew it we were motoring away from the launch at Anchor Point in Steve's big 27 foot Alumaweld.
“There is a big group of silvers down toward Homer at the mouth of Kachemak Bay. I don’t think it will be any problem at all to limit out on both salmon and halibut provided the salmon are as thick as they were yesterday,” Steve related as he steered the boat to the south.
Once we arrived outside the mouth of Kachemak Bay, Steve motored around a bit looking for bottom features that should attract halibut and then dropped the anchor.
As Steve and his deckhand (and daughter) Kaylee rigged rods Steve explained that there was a huge concentration of smelt in the area that had both the salmon and halibut on a feeding binge.
We started out with a quartet of halibut rods in the water soaking cut herring. In addition to those four rods, Steve put out a pair of salmon rods baited with 4 inch frozen herring. The plan was to let the salmon baits work in the current behind the anchored boat while we focused on putting some halibut in the box.
The halibut were eager and a collection of 20 to 25 pounders started hitting the deck immediately. We tossed some of the halibut back and kept some others.
The salmon rods had probably been out around 15 minutes when one of them got slammed and I found myself locked up with a feisty pink salmon. Moments later someone landed a quality 8 pound silver and then full-blown salmon pandemonium broke out!
The salmon rods were getting hammered constantly by silvers and pinks that ran from 5 to 12 pounds. The salmon bite was so intense that everyone with the exception of me stopped halibut fishing in order to focus on the salmon.
That was fine with me, I was more than happy battling halibut after halibut. Before long the boat’s fish box was jammed with full limits of both halibut and salmon. It was only our first day in Alaska and already the fillets were already stacking up.
Our adventure at the mouth of Kachemak Bay only served as an introduction to the kind of action we’d be experiencing for the rest of the week.
In the next edition of the Fish Sniffer I’ll be back with the rest of the story including tales of river salmon action, rare rockfish, monster lingcod and of course more halibut!Back To Reports