Ton Nientied

Catch of a big halibut in Leka on 6/6/2009. By Ton Nientied.

After numerous fishing trips to Guernsey and Ireland we were seeking new fishing grounds for new challenges. We decided to go to Norway this year to try to catch some species, which we had only seen on photos. Torsk would be nice, a wolf-fish or an angler-fish maybe, redfish of course and what to think of a really big cod or haddock?

We ended up in Leka, because of the positive stories of some of our friends, who visited the camping of Anne Britt and Jostein Hiller earlier. Our boat, an 18 feet Hansvik was in perfect condition and soon we made drifts over the many existing hot spots. There are so many mountain slopes under water, that it is impossible not to catch fish! And catching we did. Allready on the second day my friend Kees Wartenbergh landed a 14 kilo cod. It came from just over 200 meters deep at a place called Stortaren, NNE from Leka.

On the 6th day of our trip, Saturday 6/6/2009 I myself had “my finest moment”. That day we went back to Stortaren, where we only found the occasional fish. We ended up in a place between Stortaren and the mainland of Leka. We drifted from 75 meters deep to the south to higher grounds. During a quarter of an hour we had no bites, until Kees caught a big haddock. I decided to check my bait on a depth of 45 meters. My bait was a whole fresh coalfish, of which I had taken out the bone, so that both sides of the coalfish could freely go through the water. The 8/0 hook went through the tough place between the eyes. Above the hook I put some attractors like some green lightning tube, a green octopus and a spinner, all “toys” to draw the attention to the real bait: the coalfish.

The idea of this bait was to catch a real big cod. My personal best is a 1,02 meter long one, caught in Guernsey, so Leka was the place to beat that p.r. That it ended differently, I only could have dreamed of!

On lifting my bait I felt some resistance at a depth of some 20 meters. It was just a small pull, nothing to pay much attention to. So I reeled in my line further until my bait was 5 meters under the surface. Suddenly I saw a white shadow in the waves and my rod was pulled 90 degrees down. A big halibut had taken the bait! It went straight to the bottom in one go and believe me, it really had to pull to get the line from the reel. I was glad not to be on 200 meters of water, because I’m sure it would have gone the 200 meters deep in one run. Fortunately the hook was in the front of the mouth and in a tough part, so the fish could not reach the line. A long fight started of 5 minutes taking some line in to end up in a 20 second run to the deep again to start all over again.

After half an hour the halibut decided to stay on its place; I thought it was lying on the bottom. We saw that in spite of the current and the waves the boat stayed on the same place.

Therefore I decided to force a bit more and put maximum strength on the line. The fish came a meter up and immediately did a 15 meter run further down. The conclusion was that the fish was not lying at the bottom at all. It just was resting half way bottom and surface. This made me realize that this fight was far from being over. But more power from my side was necessary to get the fish tired. Now I really laid maximum tension on my 50 – 150 gram Shimano Beastmaster (in fact too light for this job) and my 19/100 Power Pro braid. Apparently the swivel and all the knots were in perfect condition, because they stood the tests I put on them. The following hour I doubted various times if I could win this game, but in the end the halibut came to the surface, what a fish!

To get the fish in the boat took a quarter of an hour. First it ruined the gaff by pulling the hook of the gaff out of the stick, immediately followed by a new, angry 30 meter run. My friends Kees Wartenbergh and Yme Nijholt were so clever to make a lasso of  a rope we had on board. A weight was fixed to the rope with nylon to make the rope sink. The lasso was thrown over the tail of the halibut, it sank perfectly over the tail before a big pull of the rope would secure the fish. When we pulled it on board it fell on the back with the eyes down, ideal because in this way it stays relatively quiet.

The fish was 1,68 meter long. Jostein Hiller was called on entering the harbour. He was impressed, because after the weighing he realized that the Leka record of 1991 (51,4 kilo) had been beaten. The weight of the halibut was 62,5 kilo. After checking the Dutch record list it appeared that the actual record is 61 kilo, so the fish will be claimed as a new Dutch record.

We were looking for new challenges, but this fish has beaten all our expectations.