We spent the morning wandering around Homer Spit, checking out the gift shops and restaurants. Homer prides itself on being more cultured and artistically inclined than other similar size Alaska towns. Amid the usual T-shirts and tourist kitsch, we found some amazing handicraft mostly made by native Alaskans. At noon the moseying came to a halt as we boarded yet another boat.
Most people come to Alaska, the Kenai Peninsula in particular, to go fishing. Our attempts at fishing early in our travel life lead to abject failure. We found far greater success hanging around other people who caught too many fish and gave us some. But here in Homer we found a half day trip fishing for halibut with good rates for geezers that motivated us to give it a try. Fishing is not a good deal. We paid a hefty fee for the charter boat and had to buy one day fishing licenses. But once we got on the boat, little skill on our part was required and success was guaranteed.
We motored out of Kachemak Bay for two hours while the crew prepared the bait and laid out the fishing poles. We were spaced around the deck and the protocol was to take turns moving toward the back where the crew was stationed to help bring up the fish and bait the hooks. I was surprised by how hard I had to work even with all that help. With the huge lead sinker the pole was heavy and I had a hard time reeling it in from the bottom 200 feet below. I caught two fish on my first two tries, but the crew threw them back saying they were too small. They looked and felt pretty big to me.
The next few attempts brought up an empty hook; some halibut down there was licking his chops and laughing at me. My hands and arms grew more and more tired. At one point with great skill I managed to wind the bottom of my shirt around the reel. That gave the crew member who rescued me a big laugh; he'd never seen such a bone headed move before. Eventually I brought up a second fish that was big enough to keep. Fishing regulations limit us to two halibut per day. My sore hands were happy to stop. Each fish was banded with a distinctive color so we could get our own fish back at the end of the trip.
Once we started back to Homer the crew cleaned and fileted each fish. Then they spent over an hour cleaning the deck and equipment. It really was a hygenic operation. When we got off we got color coded bags of fish ready to be cooked. The fish processing plant was a short walk away and we left our catch there to be frozen and vaccum packed. Most tourists fly home with their frozen box of fish, but we set a little aside that would fit in the motor home freezer and sent the rest home to a helpful neighbor who will put it in the freezer. We caught 21 pounds of halibut, which costs $19/pound around here. Doing the math we came out ahead on today's venture, but not by much. It was a fun experience that we just might do again some time when the stars are aligned properly.