When 6-year-old Tegan Humphrey of Palmer boated a 138.8-pound halibut on Sunday, her mother was proud and impressed.
Her father, Charles, who'd helped Tegan crank it from depths of the Pacific Ocean, was tired.
Her charter boat captain Rob Hyslip was thrilled to have a client atop a division of the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby.
And Tegan? She was slightly sad.
Nice catch, she thought. Wrong species.
"She was fishing for a mermaid, and she didn't get what she wanted," said Courtney Humphrey, her mom. "So she was a little disappointed."
Paula Frisinger, derby coordinator for the Homer Chamber of Commerce, said that Alaska's biggest fishing derby rarely sees a mermaid entry. "I think that's a great idea," she said of a mermaid division. "We'll have to think about that."
Tegan's halibut was large enough to grab the top spot in the derby's Lady Angler division for June, well clear of Barb Cheney's 61.6-pounder.
And it's unlikely any Alaska flatfish caught this summer will weigh 3 1/2 times more than the angler on the other end of the line.
Tegan, a 40-pound student headed to Wasilla Lake Christian School this fall, had just finished a long battle with another halibut when her big fish gobbled up the squid and herring bait about 2 p.m.
The previous fight produced a chicken halibut with teeth marks from gills to tail, an indication that a larger halibut -- they're cannibalistic -- had tried to secure a meal.
Not long after Tegan had her bait back on the bottom, her pole doubled over.
"No sooner did she hit the bottom, than that fish was on," Hyslip said. "And it took off zinging line.
"Next thing I heard was, 'I can't crank it, I can't crank it.' "
Dad stepped in to help, and the fight lasted about 25 minutes. It ended with another disappointment for Tegan when Hyslip pulled out his sawed-off shotgun.
"You're not going to shoot my fish," she pleaded.
"Yeah," Hyslip acknowledged. "She wasn't thrilled at first. She didn't really understand what was going on."
Before long, though, the small disappointments were forgotten. Tegan had her big fish, so big the captain had to shoot it.
"It was really heavy," Tegan said.
"She gets all the glory," said Hyslip of Big Bear Halibut Charters, "and he got all the hard work."
But nobody begrudged Tegan her family bragging rights after a hard-working day on the water. Before long, her exhaustion showed.
"She was completely tuckered out," Courtney said. "I've got an awesome picture of her on the way back in, sleeping."
Reach reporter Mike Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4329.