Mike Golat had a big problem on his hands when he hooked a 395-pound halibut near Unalaska - there was no way he was going to get the giant flatfish into his 18-foot skiff.
Golat, Unalaska’s environmental compliance coordinator, was fishing off Hog Island in Unalaska Bay with Tom Regan of Seattle on June 21 when he hooked the 7-foot-long monster, just 45 pounds short of the state record.
Golat said he fought the fish for more than an hour before he brought it to the surface.
At that point it was clear the big fish wasn’t going into the small skiff. Golat and Regan realized they were going to have to do some quick thinking - or it was going to be just another story of the big fish that got away.
Since the men had no harpoon and only a small gaff, they first tried to lasso the fish by its tail. That didn’t work.
So they decided to tow the fish to land. They pulled the fish, still alive and attached only by the fishing line, about half a mile to Devil Fish Point, carefully weaving their way through the kelp beds to keep the line from breaking.
Once they got near the shore, the two men jumped into waistdeep water to haul the halibut to the beach.
With no gun or harpoon, the men had to stone the fish to death before towing it back to Unalaska to be weighed and photographed.
Golat’s fish was one of three 300-pounders caught recently in the Dutch Harbor area. Eric Stewart caught a 347-pound halibut, and Fish and Wildlife Protection Trooper Lew Brantley hauled in a 351-pound fish.
The state record for sport-caught halibut was set in 1978 when Joar Savland landed a 440-pound fish in Icy Strait near Juneau.