Florida angler hauls in 341-pound halibut from Cook Inlet

Perhaps Southcentral's biggest halibut of the year was landed earlier this week when Florida angler George McMahon III pulled in a 341-pound flatfish while fishing with the Deep Creek Fishing Club, a resort in Ninilchik.

Halibut derbies under way in Homer, Seward and Valdez so far have only one fish weighing more than 200 pounds on the leader boards, the 253-pound caught by David Jamison of Fairbanks that paces the Valdez Halibut Derby.

McMahon, 45, of Lakeland, caught his big fish on Tuesday aboard the Megalodon captained by Steve Moe, and it capped a strong week that will leave the Florida man awash in fillets.

On Monday, he landed a 162-pound halibut — itself a fish of a lifetime for many anglers. That followed a 96-pounder.

Maybe McMahon was used to big fish or maybe, as he said, the beefy flatfish "was an old-timer ready to go. It actually wasn't too bad — almost easy."

In fact, as McMahon reeled the fish up from 250 feet of Cook Inlet water, he had no idea how big it was until the fish came into view. "There was a little head-shaking coming up, but that was about it," he said.

The trip to Alaska was McMahon's sixth. He got back to Florida at about 6 a.m. Friday, and within hours his phone was buzzing with friends looking for some free fish dinners.


"I have lots of friends asking, 'Where's mine?' "

Purple water, dead pike

Prince sang about purple rain. Now the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is singing the praises of purple creek water.

Once again, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is turning to the pesticide rotenone to poison invasive northern pike in more Southcentral waterways. One of them is Soldotna Creek, and biologists plan to deactivate the rotenone with potassium permanganate, the purple additive, before the creek flows into Kenai River, one of Alaska's premier fishing spots.

"The rotenone is expected to dilute quickly to concentrations that are not harmful to fish upon mixing with the Kenai River," according to a Fish and Game press release. "As a precaution, the rotenone will be deactivated with potassium permanganate prior to leaving the treatment area and before it enters the Kenai River.

"Potassium permanganate will not be harmful to fish at the concentrations used but will temporarily color the water of Soldotna Creek purple, which could be visible near the Soldotna Creek–Kenai River confluence."

Fish and Game staffers will walk along Soldotna Creek with backpack sprayers June 26-30, with a helicopter overhead. Boats will be used in Sevena Lake, the other waterway to receive a rotenone application.

Signs will be posted to ensure visitors know about the effort and don't recreate in either the creek or the lake.

This month's effort is the second of three treatments, part of a multiyear project to eradicate northern pike and to restore native fish to the Soldotna Creek drainage.

Native fish relocation efforts, now underway, will continue up to a few days prior to the treatment. The native fish relocation effort has been ongoing since the spring of 2015, and more than 55,000 native fish have been captured from Soldotna Creek and Sevena Lake and released alive into lakes within the drainage that were treated with rotenone to eradicate northern pike during the fall of 2014.

More information about the Soldotna Creek northern pike eradication project can be found here.

Don’t cast in my spot, Dad. You too, Mom.

That's right, a portion of the Eklutna Tailrace from its confluence with the Knik River upstream to the pedestrian bridge will restricted to young anglers less than 16 years old 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

"Fishing at the Eklutna Tailrace has been good," Fish and Game assistant area management biologist Samantha Oslund said in a press release. "This is a great opportunity for young anglers to come out and fish for king salmon."

Other portions of the Tailrace will be open to older anglers.

Established by the Alaska Legislature, youth fisheries provide a special opportunity for young people to catch fish. Another youth fishing day at the Eklutna Tailrace this season will be on Saturday, Aug. 20 after silver salmon arrive.

The daily bag and possession limit for kings is one fish 20 inches or longer. For small kings less than 20 inches, the limit is 10 fish. Young anglers must carry a harvest card just as older fishermen do, and immediately record any larger kings that they catch.

Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell was a longtime editor for Alaska Dispatch News, and before that, the Anchorage Daily News.