Halibut Rodeo

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  2. Halibut Rodeo by Mark Lewandowski
  3. Local news matters.
  4. Did harpooned Alaska halibut monster nearly kill Valdez fishermen? (+VIDEO)
  5. Halibut Rodeo

It is a story that smells like a giant fish tale.

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But Knowles, a responsible employee of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in the community of Valdez at the end of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline about miles southeast of Anchorage, and Hanson both swear it is true. Then, too, there is the video of them towing the catch home because it was too big to fit in the dingy that substituted for an unavailable charter boat.

The problem this year was that "No Excuses" had gone to Dutch Harbor in far western Alaska near the head of the Aleutian Islands chain. The dinghy, as Knowles calls it, is a foot inflatable with a small outboard motor. This is not a boat for the open ocean, but good enough for the protected waters of the inner Prince William Sound. In it, Knowles and Hanson putt-putted out to angle for bottomfish, and they had luck. By the time the weather began to turn at midday on the weekend of July 7, they had three small halibut aboard and four rockfish in the fish box.

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  • Aware of this, the men pointed the boat toward a sheltered bight to wait for the wind to die. Hanson "is a great guy," Knowles said.

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    That's why we stopped there. As they waited out the weather, Knowles lowered a chunk of cod over the side of the boat. We'd used that cod a lot on Kodiak" Island when Knowles lived there. Using the cod was good because other cod didn't seem to feed on it. They weren't always attacking the bait, so if something hit the line it was likely to be a halibut, which was what Knowles wanted as he dropped the cod over the side of the dinghy. Before the bait hit bottom, something grabbed it.

    Halibut Rodeo by Mark Lewandowski

    Knowles set the hook. An angler who has caught halibut over pounds before, he knew almost instantly he was into a big fish. When he pulled against the creature beneath the sea, it didn't give much. It, in fact, treated the inflatable dinghy a lot like a big bobber.

    When he finally got the fish to the surface, he guessed its weight at about pounds. Halibut do come bigger, much bigger, but for two guys in a foot inflatable, a fish the size of a large man presents a bit of a challenge. After a brief lapse of judgment on my part and him claiming skipper-hood, I agreed to give it a go of landing this fish.

    The two anglers worked out a plan. Knowles would pull the fish up to the boat, get it horizontal at the water's surface, and then move to the side to give Hanson a chance to drive home a harpoon. The plan sort of worked. Hanson slammed the harpoon into the side of the fish, but then the excitement began. In this vivid, moving collection, Mark Lewandowski brings us the tough poetry of the Alaskan fishing industry, an end-of-the-world ecosystem of Slime-Line Queens and drunks, Born-Agains and sinners. Like the fish workers he describes, Lewandowski knows how to eviscerate.

    He peels back his characters' thick skins and removes their still-beating hearts.

    Halibut Rodeo is an arresting collection of stories about lonely people trying to find each other and hold on. Paperback , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Halibut Rodeo , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Sep 10, Heather rated it liked it. I think Halibut Rodeo is Mark Lewandowski's first book. It's sort of a Winesburg, Ohio, only it's Homer, Alaska.

    The collection is a series of related stories about the transient residents of Homer, many of whom are living in tents, and almost all are working in the fishing industry as fish slimers and gutters. At times, the stories could have more tightly woven, and the sometimes distant narrative voice made me want more psychological complexity, but at the same time, the characters were believ I think Halibut Rodeo is Mark Lewandowski's first book.

    At times, the stories could have more tightly woven, and the sometimes distant narrative voice made me want more psychological complexity, but at the same time, the characters were believable and authentic. I love the simplicity of the rig, the absence of bait and the obvious results. Unlike with bait, if the lure gets struck and missed, you are still fishing. The stiff leader keeps the presentation straight and provides for durability after catching so many fish. On multiple occasions we fight three and even four fish simultaneously. After watching Keith work the gear on day one, Eric and I run the downriggers for the second day.

    This adds to the fun for us and gets baits in the water more quickly.

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    Every time I look at Bill he is grinning. He spoke to his wife of 53 years after the first day of fishing and recounted all the great fish they had caught that day. He tells me that she was as excited as he was. We lather up the baits with oil, pin them on Alaska-sized circle hooks and send them down. One fish after the next bites his Pro Cure-enhanced bait and we take turns reeling up fish. When I get it most of the way up from feet, it decides to head back down.

    But the contest is now in my favor and soon we see color. We get a picture and release it unscathed. Slot limit for charter-boat anglers in Sitka in was under or over 76 inches. In about two hours we limit the boat on good halibut. A great day of fishing gets even better when we switch to rockfish and lingcod angling. The boat is quickly limited on pelagic rockfish, which means 20 for the four of us, and then we begin to land lings. Our luck changes when two of the six landed fall within the to inch window.

    Eric is simply amazed at the quality, variety and quantity of the fish we have caught. Sun breaks through the clouds and gives us the first clear look at Mt. Trolling the same lanes as the previous two days yields only two coho in an hour. Keith takes to the airways and talks to one of his many charter-boat captain friends, and we quickly secure the gear and motor to a hot spot. From that point until the fishing ends at 2: The next hour yields 22 fat coho. Without moving locations, Keith spots rockfish on the fish finder and we quickly swap out salmon leaders for Point Wilson Darts.

    On my first drop I get stopped at feet, which I think is bottom. Next drop stops at I tell the other anglers that bottom is and Keith corrects me to These oversized specimens range from 5- to 8 pounds, and in 15 minutes I never made a drop without hooking a fish. Next stop was halibut, and the flatfish were cooperative.

    Did harpooned Alaska halibut monster nearly kill Valdez fishermen? (+VIDEO)

    Thirty minutes later we pulled anchor with four to pound flatfish in the box and went looking for lingcod. As if it could get much better, two lingcod within the slot limit were hooked and landed in succession. After sorting through lings for slot-limit fish over the first two days, we realized that today is special. So with an hour and a half left on the angling day, we set out for known king salmon haunts. And as if on cue, 30 minutes into the troll a pound Chinook flopped on the deck, emitting the signature smell of a king salmon.

    That smell fills me with promise of succulent, finger-licking-good chunks of spice-rubbed fillet fresh off the barbecue. Over the past 15 years I have been on enough saltwater missions to realize when you have a really awesome day.

    Halibut Rodeo

    And this day, fishing with Captain Keith Shuler while at Kingfisher Charters and Lodge, we experienced a really awesome day at sea. The custom foot Alaska Skiff is roomy, comfortable and fishy. Scott is a super guy, and this is evident from the moment we meet him.

    It takes the right personality to be a charter captain, and Scott has it.