Anchorage to Homer, Alaska
Number one, this is one of the most beautiful drives in Alaska. Complete with towering mountains and bodies of water from pond to Turnagin Arm a huge bay. Two lanes most of the way, the road provides the usual Alaska experiences construction with gravel stretches (PING! there goes another headlight), frost heaves, winding roads, grades and wildlife.
Barb and I were fortunate! We were handed a challenge in Homer! Tina, our mentor and owner of AVC, threw us into the lake – she made us Wagon Masters of the remainder of the trip! Our tail gunner trainees became official Tail Gunners and Tina went offline. Barb and I had been prepared to take over so with Kris and Mary we planned out the rest of the trip (staff prepared meals, socials, potlucks and managing 28 people through several boat rides and travel days to come).
AVC chose a lovely campground outside of Homer, up on the hill above the harbor and huge bay. Many in our group were able to park nose in, facing the sea. Fab-u-lous! Once settled, many hopped in their toads to go explore the town and piers. We had a social and threw a wonderful halibut dinner – foil wrapped packets of Halibut, lemons, capers, butter and spinach leaves was the main dish. YUM!
Six of us went out on a 28 passenger halibut fishing boat. The boat went out to the mouth of the bay – almost an hour of steaming over gentle blue water. Captain found the fish and everyone dropped their three pound weights 220’ to the bottom.
Okay let me explain… three pounds. Haul up = fish + 3 solid pounds of dead lead weight. Using a 6’ pole with a 4” reel tucked into your belly (two of us ended up with it clamped between our legs – but I won’t get into the details of that) and clamped with the left arm while the reel slapping back and forth with every grind for 220’.
Everyone on the boat caught their limit of two fish! From kids to us grannies that part was a blast! The crew, Patrick and Faith made it easier by hauling line hand over hand when folks seemed to need help. Alaska’s tricky Halibut law really tripped me up though. (can you hear me crying in my beer?)
Halibut law states that the first fish you catch and keep HAS TO BE OVER 28” and the next under 28”. Anglers have two marked tags delineating first and second fish. Way’ell. I caught a 31” and kept it. Then I caught a several smaller ones and tossed them. I got a good bump on my line, set the hook and began the arduous task of hauling up the fish (and the 3# weight!). I hauled and hauled and the fish ran away with my line over and over. I hauled and hauled and hauled (we’re looking at about a half hour here…). Patrick leaned out to hand over hand my line up but I shooed him off and said “I gotta bring this one up by myself.” I knew that was a big halibut. When we got it on the boar – it was big, 45” long and probably 35 pounds. Biggest fish of the day.
Remember the halibut law? Alaska’s halibut regulation (one of thousands)? Remember I kept that first 31” fish. Way’ell, long story not-drawn-out-further, I had to throw my big fish back and watch it swim away. (yup, still crying in my beer).
While some went halibut fishing, others took a helicopter out to an island to see grizzly and black bears. The first day they went out they were skunked by fog and rain. The company was so great, each person received a full refund and could choose to give the money back and fly out the next morning. The photos of their excursion were incredible – National Geographic kinds of photos! I’m sorry I don’t have any to share – I wasn’t there!
BUT WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL. STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF THE HOMER STORY!