How to Catch A Halibut

As the boat bobs, you ease the release back and spool out 100 feet of 80-pound nylon. Green and white string whirs off the reel until a one-pound weight bounces off the muddy sea floor. You crank on the hand-held winch, allowing the bait to jig along almost 18 fathoms below. A yank on the line unplugs your daydream, and you focus on the tippet.

Two more quick tugs reveal the presence of a hungry halibut. You let the flatfish mouth the meal a bit; a steady but slight pull on your line signals the start of the fight. An over-the-head yank on the rod sets the hook deep into cartilage jaws. As you brace against the gunwales, the fish braces for the fight of its life.

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You keep the line taut: One inch of slack means a lost prize; too speedy a retrieve and you risk ripping the fish's lip.

Thirty minutes of straining later, the dark brown back reveals itself: she's probably in the 200-pound range. To safely bring her aboard, you'll need to shoot her with a gun or risk getting tossed overboard as she thrashes. Already scheming up sauces to complement the fine, flaky white meat, you realize this may be the catch of a lifetime. Then again, it doesn't have to be just your catch of a lifetime.

You snip the leader near the hook and let the old girl return home. But you vow to return next year and make a meal out of one of her grand kids.


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