I started out going to Alaska because my brother lived in Anchorage. I’d usually visit in summer time, so we’d often go halibut fishing. The halibut are unique fish. They dwell on the bottom, and they’re big and flat like a barn door, so it’s super hard to pull them up once you’ve got one on your hook. In order to catch them, you have to put this icky slimy fish on your hook, along with these huge weights so that the hook will sink to the bottom. Then allure them by moving the line around to create movement on the sand bottom.

During one of my visits, I caught a really big one, and it took about an hour and half to bring it up! It was so heavy I was passing it off to brother and father, so we could take turns pulling the line, and my arms hurt so bad. Finally, when we could see it was close, my brother passed it back so I could bring it in, and that’s when we realized that all I caught was a skate fish! Skate are basically just trash fish, natives like to use them, but they’re not really good for eating.

We weighed it anyway before we let it go, and it was over 400 pounds! Wow, it would have been a contender for a prize in the Halibut Derby if it was the right type of fish, but no-go. We didn’t even have phones with cameras back then, so it’s only a memory at this point. I still fish there almost every time I visit – it’s truly a huge highlight of anybody’s trip there.