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Fisherman opts to keep massive, 231-pound halibut

Given option of a free fishing trip to release fish, angler Dirk Whitsitt decides to take fish home; takes three shots from a .38 special to subdue trophy fish

September 09, 2013 by


Dirk Whitsitt, a construction worker from Kansas, caught a fish of a lifetime only an hour into his first fishing trip in Alaska, and he wasn’t about to release the monster, not even for a $250 voucher for another day of fishing.

You can’t blame him, really. The Pacific halibut he hooked in 370 feet of water in Cook Inlet out of Homer, Alaska, and fought for 45 minutes wound up weighing a whopping 231 pounds.

Once the decision was made to keep it, the prized fish needed to be subdued, which is no easy task with a halibut this size.

“Towards the end of the fight, the fish headed back toward the bottom and we had to release the anchor to follow the fish,” Capt. David Bayes of DeepStrike Sportfishing explained in an email to GrindTV Outdoor. “We shot it three times with a .38 special and used three gaffs to pull it aboard.”Using a gun to subdue halibut is common practice in Alaska. In fact, it is recommended on any sizable fish over 100 pounds because big halibut are nearly all muscle and can do damage to people and boats if they’re not killed before being brought on board.

The other option, of course, is releasing the fish, one that Bayes gives an incentive to his passengers for doing.

“I offer fishermen a free trip if they opt to release a halibut of that size, but the angler was not interested,” he said. “That was the third halibut over 200 pounds that we’ve caught in the last month. One was estimated at 225 pounds and released. The other was 236 pounds and is the current Homer Halibut Jackpot Derby leader.”

To give an idea about the size of the halibut Whitsitt caught, first-year deckhand and recent graduate Kruiz Siewing, a former wide receiver for Montana State University, posed with the fish in a corner of the boat.

Siewing stands 5-11, 184 pounds and is dwarfed by the fish, which no doubt provided Whitsitt with plenty of fillets to take home.