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.
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.