Many of you may have seen or heard the story in the news paper, the Tonight Show, or on Yahoo News about the little six year old girl “Tegan” on one of our boats this last week that was fishing for a mermaid. While she didn’t catch a mermaid she did catch a 138 pound halibut, large enough to lead the women’s division of the Homer Halibut Derby. Not bad for a 40 pound girl. There were many positive responses to the story as well as some negative ones. Most of the negative responses were involving the shooting of the big halibut before bringing it onboard. Unfortunately the news paper reported that the halibut was shot with a sawed off shot gun, rather than a stubby store bought model. I think the real problem is that most people don’t understand the reason behind shooting big halibut before bringing them on board. And that lack of understanding fuels their comments. Why do charter boat captains shoot big halibut anyway?
Big halibut (usually 80 plus pounds) are shot to protect the customers and crew members from the fish flopping and thrashing on the deck. Big halibut can and do injure fishermen if they are allowed to flop around. If you have ever tried to corral and handle even a 30 or 40 pound king salmon you know the strength and power that a fish can have. Now imagine a 100, 200, or 300 pound thrashing fish in a confined space with a group of fishermen. If this is allowed to happen it is certainly a recipe for disaster.
Bottom line, big halibut are shot to protect the passengers and to dispatch the fish quickly and humanely. It is not about being cruel or macho.
The Homer Halibut Derby also has a drawing for people that choose to release big halibut. The crew will release the fish and sign as a witness of the release. The fisherman will then receive a certificate. The decision to keep or release the fish is up to the fisherman that hooked the fish. The Alaska fishing regulations state, that the fish is the property of the person that hooked the fish. This is why it is permissible to have another person assist in bringing in the fish.
Since Tegan’s willingness to admit that she would like to catch a mermaid we have had several other fishermen express a desire to have a mermaid as well.
Sorry boys we don’t have a mermaid guarantee!
To read the full story in the Los Angeles Times click here!