Tuesday, March 22, 2011

These aren't Mine

I got an email from my good friend Doug Courtney last week. He apparently was sick of looking at the Yanni post. No doubt if I had posted about Jimmy Buffett, there would be no complaint registered. Now I not only have to entertain my family, I have to meet the needs of friends and aquaintances. I need to get a larger audience so I can get some sponsors or something so I can just do this instead of a real job. In any event, I've known Doug since I was in the navy. He was just a boy then and I took him fishing with me on occasion down in Charleston. When his family moved to the farm in Alaska, we weren't too far behind. We used to hunt ducks out in the fields and had a memorable experience once when Doug was tearing through the waist high grass with a Brown Bear hot on his heels. We set a land speed record for escape and though we both crossed a shallow slough, I don't believe either of us got our feet wet. Just for the record- running from a bear is the very thing you aren't supposed to do. Go figure. Anyway, we're still both here and have all of our appendages. Now on to the main body of the post. I  don't know how many times when I was a kid I was confronted by Mom pointing at a pile of clothes on the floor or toys scattered in the yard or a mess in the bathroom sink, and of course I would answer, that's not mine. Well, concerning these fine halibut, I can honestly say, these aren't mine. I wish they were- I truly do. These beauties came from the fishing vessel Spellbound. It used to be called the Angela Kay, but Mike, the owner, changed the name and had it repainted. It's a beautiful fiberglass boat that is kept immaculate, and I would love to own something like it, but that would require money, and then I would have to catch enough fish in the year to pay for the expenses, so I guess I'll stay with what I have. The commercial halibut fleet has really taken it on the chin over the course of the past five or six years. The International Pacific Halibut Commission has drastically reduced the commercial quota at a time when the commercial sport charter fleet was expanding and exceeding their allotted catch. Many of those guys own or work for lodges here in Alaska while living elsewhere. It's been a lopsided arrangement with the brunt of the cuts being born by the longline fleet, which I am a part of. This year alone we took a 47% cut in our quota, bringing to over 70% the loss we have suffered in the past few years. I'm hoping we've seen the last of it. In all fairness, I have to say that the IPHC finally decided to reduce the impact of the charter fleet by limiting them to one fish per day and nothing over 37 inches long. Like most government agencies, they didn't act until  there was a disaster looming. Many of the clients who book a charter want trophy halibut, so they are cancelling their reservations to go out. While I can empathize with the charter fleet, if the reason for the cutbacks is to save the resource, I will embrace it. We all have to share in the pain to insure that there will be halibut for everyone in the future. I'll quote Forrest Gump here-"That's all I have to say about that." I was down at the Hoonah Cold Storage when I heard that a boat was unloading. It just happened to be the first load of halibut for them this year. They're nice fish-in very good shape.   I guess it wasn't the nicest trip. We had been going through a terrible cold spell at the time these were caught, and though the weather was sunny, it was windy and miserable. All the more reason I don't fish for halibut in March. Last year my son Brian and I went out for halibut in April, but I think the weather was a lot warmer then. I can't remember. Anyway, soon enough I'll go out and get my little bit of fish  and when I do I'll probably write about it. Doug, if you read this, just thought I'd let you know, I'm listening to Yanni as I write. Maybe I'll try a little Jimmy Buffett later. Margeritaville sounds like a good place to be right now. I'm sure you'd agree.                                                                                            

5 comments:

  1. Thanks Doug, good post dad. Can't wait to get me some of that halibut :)

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  2. I didn't realize you were taking requests...

    It's interesting to here the halibut catch debate from the commercial side. I've got a good friend who operates two charter boats out of Homer.

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  3. Hi Todd, I'm not real sure what you mean about taking requests, but then I'm always a little confused. I'm sure each person would have a good argument for the way they feel about the situation. As I mentioned, its a limited resource and needs to be managed fairly. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. What most people don't understand is, just like farmers, we're providing food for the masses. The difference is that we have a limit to what we can take. Anyway, it is what it is. I just hope we've seen the end of the cuts for everyones sake.

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  4. Sorry Tom... That was two separate thoughts.

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  5. way to go Doug...make the ol man think a bit;-) Nice lookin fish...hopefully you'll have a bit of your own to take pics of...miss the halibut...everyone in this area who has ever had halibut agrees that it's by far the best fish they've ever had!

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