Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…
Besides the previous story regarding eagle talons, here’s my second Alaska fishing story, this time about halibut. If you’ve ever seen a halibut, you know they are flat, like a football run over by a steamroller (see the drawing at right). They can also get extremely large, some growing to over four hundred pounds (let’s see an eagle tackle one of those!). And because of their body configuration and the daily workouts they get floundering (sorry, a little fish humor here) and undulating on the seabed, they can be extremely strong.
Apparently, on more than one occasion, fishermen have ventured out on their own in the cold Alaska waters. They would then hook into one of these large halibut and somehow manage to wrestle the massive fish into their small boats. But because of their size, strength and shape, the halibut would flip around on the deck and have been known to actually knock out, break the bones of or even kill the fishermen by smashing them into the side of the boat.
Thus, today, most fishermen carry a pistol with them or a gaff and club that they use to kill the fish while it is still in the water. As this article notes (just in case you wanted to know more about how to land a halibut properly), you have to be careful with the bullet or the gaff so that a diner in some fine restaurant later on doesn’t wonder why there’s a bullet hole in his halibut cheeks.
When I first heard this story on a trip to Alaska about twenty years ago, I thought the guy was just messing with my innocent tourist’s mind. No one actually shoots fish, do they? But on a more recent trip to Alaska with my family, we went out fishing and as you can see in this picture, even for a halibut that was less than forty pounds, our guide didn’t take any changes. We got our catch to the side of the boat and BANG! our Dirty Harry of the Sea had that poor halibut staring up blankly out of those two top-of-the-head eyes.
So what does this rather gruesome illustration have to do with meaningful travel?
I have no idea.
And that’s the point.
Not every story or experience we have will have a moral or deeper meaning. In fact, the simplicity of the experience itself is the deeper meaning.
You don’t have to go fishing for anything more.