HOMER — To his surprise and elation, Seldovia resident Dick Wyland caught a 245-pound halibut while fishing with Seldovia Fishing Adventures on July 15 after hooking a yelloweye, a large rockfish.
Turns out the halibut was attempting to eat the yelloweye, a meal that landed the flatfish on the boat deck. Yelloweye grow exceptionally slowly and can live more than 100 years, eventually reaching 36 inches. Or they can become supper.
"All of a sudden the rod bent double and the huge halibut, when they finally got him to the surface, it had the yelloweye in its mouth. It wasn't hooked. It was just hanging onto the yelloweye," said Seldovia Fishing Adventures and Bed and Breakfast owner Raewyn Weyer. "When they got him up, (the halibut) had swallowed the yelloweye, so we cut the yelloweye out and (Wyland) got two for one."
The halibut is the biggest fish Wyland, who turns 84 in August, has ever caught. His wife bought him the trip on the fishing charter as an early birthday gift, and it ended up being the thrill of a lifetime.
"I can't believe it," Wyland said. "My arms were sore for a day or so — or three or four. It worked me out, I'll tell you that."
Other anglers on the boat helped Wyland haul the fish up. At one point, Wyland's arms were so sore that one of his fellow anglers took over for him completely.
"We're in real deep water, and I had to work on him," Wyland said. "We got it about 10 feet from the boat, and it didn't want to come any farther. I was tired, and my arms were sore. One of the guys took over, and that was a big battle."
Wyland cut up the fish and froze most of it as his year's supply of halibut. He also shared some with his neighbors and plans to bring a few pieces up to his kids in Eagle River.
Since the halibut was caught on a boat leaving from and returning to the Seldovia harbor, it wasn't eligible to enter in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, where a 167-pounder tops the leader board. Derby rules stipulate that qualifying fish must be caught on boats going from and coming back to the Homer harbor within the same voyage.
Reprinted with permission from the Homer News. Anna Frost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.