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Posted on Aug 11, 2008 in Top Shots
Catch and Release at its Best

From Sund's Lodge

Record Breaking Halibut Caught and Released!

On Wednesday Aug 6, 2008 guests Will Haigh, Jim O'Kane, and Don Kennard all took turns landing a 196 pound halibut at Sund's Lodge. The fish took a squid jig and nearly spooled the reel. The team of anglers fought it for over 30 minutes. Said guide Geoff Millar, "this was a dream come true..first to catch a fish that size...but also to release it to ensure we'll be catching halibut out here for years to come!"

196 pounds
6 feet long
approx. 2 million eggs
sent back into the wild!

Late Saturday night, while I was pounding away on my 2009 editorial plan and too easily distracted, i opened an email to find the information above. I've visited/fished Sund's Lodge on the southern British Columbia coast, and it's a great place. Now I like it even better - and wanted to share yet another piece of evidence supporting the claim that anglers are true conservationists, and to applaud the actions of the anglers - Will Haigh, Jim O'Kane and Don Kennard - and Sund's guide Geoff Miller for deciding to release this very large, old animal.

As an enthusiastic Pacific halibut angler, I have long maintained (and practiced) a policy of generally releasing barndoors clearly over 100 pounds. That's because, in part, in most cases there are plenty of fine-eating 30- to 100-pounders to be caught (and remember, you get closer to 2/3 the weight of the fish as meat than the 40 percent or so for a grouper). And of course that's because returning such large female spawners to the North Pacific breeding pool is a good thing. It's also pretty easily accomplished - i.e. unlike many bottom dwellers, halibut have no swim bladder and are in general about as tough as a fish gets. I've pulled 200-pounders from over 300 feet and, after some photos, released them just fine. They're always ready and able to swim straight back down.

Still, there's always the appeal of sharing the triumph of a huge fish by bringing it back to the dock to stand next to it at the scale. That can be a hard thing to pass up. Kudos to Sund's Lodge and many other guides/charter operations in the Northwest for encouraging their anglers to release the big ladies. Hopefully there will always be some around to provide the thrill of seeing a diamond shape the size of a Volkswagen and on the end of your line rising next to the boat. It's quite an experience.

-Doug Olander

Sport Fishing Magazine