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Halibut or bust!

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Halibut or bust!

Postby yak2you2 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:49 am

Through out my teenage years two friends and I had some of the wildest times of our lives together. Whether it was hunting, trapping, fishing, or riding around in our trucks, boats, or on our ATVs, two things usually always stick out in my memories of those days... It was usually always a competition in some fashion or another, and it was always an adventure.
We grew up salmon fisherman, but one day we got the bright idea that we were going longlining for Halibut. Once that was decided, it was time to figure out how. All we had was our salmon skiffs, so that would have to do. We started with a beat up old aluminum drum we cannibalized from somewhere, mounted it on pillar blocks, then welded those to two heavy channel iron rails and lashed them down acrossed the seats. For power we came up with an old Honda 110cc threewheeler engine mounted on to the rails and connected it to a sprocket mounted on the drum with an open chain. For controls there was half of the Honda's handle bar assembly, complete with the throttle, welded at an odd angle to the frame. The way I remember it there was a token 6 inch muffler threaded into the exhaust port, but I don't remember it quieting it down much. I also seem to recall a lot of blue smoke most of the time.
It was a good thing we were a three man team in those days, it took all of us to operate that machine. To operate it you started it up with the pull cord, shifted the old foot pedal gearshifter into gear with your hand, then operated the throttle according to need. If you wanted to go faster, you simply shifted into a higher gear.
For a roller we came up with an old snatch block lashed to a 4X4 post, and tied at an odd angle over the bow of the skiff. Now we just needed some gear. One of my friends borrowed some hooks and snaps from his dad, and the line came from where ever we could find it. I remember it as being about 40 different shots of all different types of line scabbed together, most of it the old, stiff black Mann line. By the time we were ready, one whole boat was pretty much full with our hauling operation, so it was decided that a second skiff would be needed to haul home the fish. It was time to go fishin'!!
It was the early 80's, before the IFQ's, even before the one day derbys. I think we were allowed to fish for a week or so. There was no electronics, not even a depth finder. We trusted all to luck. Acrossed the deeps, over the reefs, and through the kelp, we had no idea where our longline might take us. When it was time for an anchor, we tied off to it and let it take line until it hit the bottom, added a little extra to it, and chopped it off.
One guy was the throttle operator/gearshifter, one guy was the "roller man", and one guy organized the fish and and the gear. Some old guy on the dock had told us that a grown halibut could kill a man or at the very least break his legs. if you didn't leave the hook in it's mouth, and bend the fish into a U, then rap the gangion around it's tail and clip it off, you were surely doomed. So we always had a bunch of tied up halibut sloshing about under foot to add a degree of difficulty.
The guy on the block had to scream at the guy running the throttle to stop when there was a fish coming, it was truly a miracle nobody lost any fingers the way I remember it. We're older now, and my two friends have been successful Halibut fishermen since the inception of IFQs, but we still get together and laugh about the glory days once in a while. There was no prior knowledge of what you were going to catch, when you put your head on your pillow at night you could dream of boatfuls, what a wonderful thing it is to be young.
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