Alaskan Adventure Crackerjack Charters
Capt. Andy Mezirow pioneered the multi-day halibut trip out of Seward, Alaska. His custom-built “Crackerjack Voyager,” a 48-foot Modutech, can comfortably sleep up to six anglers plus the crew, and hold all of the gear you need to load up on big halibut
Andy is on the Pure Fishing Pro Staff, which manufactures Penn, Berkley, Abu-Garcia and a number of other top brands. So, we’d be fishing with nothing but the best gear available including the new Penn Carnage rods and Fathom reels.
Baits on Standby
For bait, Andy went out of his way to get us some whole salmon carcasses from a buddy of his who does a lot of river fishing. We fished a mix of herring and salmon on the baits and several different jigs on the lighter sticks.
The new Penn Carnage rods were up to the task. Their powerful butt section and medium-fast tip helped to turn the head of these big fish and get them heading toward the surface.
On the first night, we anchored off of McCloud Harbor for quick access to the famed fishing at Montague Island. We started off catching chickens, but quickly progressed to turkeys and finished the day with plenty of big ‘buts up to 140 pounds.
Jigging the lighter tackle for halibut and rockfish was a blast. Bob Hoose (above) from Pure Fishing brought a bunch of 8-inch Power Bait curly tails that outfished the baits at times.
Over the Rail
A big one coming over the rail! On the first day of fishing, the boat limited out on halibut by 10 a.m. and the weather was calm and beautiful… It doesn’t get much better than that!
Before we left the dock, the group agreed to keep only the best eating-sized fish from 40 to 80 pounds and release all of the big breeders. If we happened upon a Derby winner, however, that sucker was going in the boat!
You don’t often get weather like this in Prince William Sound. We had glassy seas with a light surface swell. Yup, we were spoiled.
The crew also caught its fair share of rockfish including some nice yelloweye such as this one landed by Jeff Warner, who we dubbed Top Secret because he quietly fished a few of his own jigs when Andy wasn’t looking.
It was too early in the year to keep any lingcod, but we caught enough to wear your arms off. Nothing like reeling in a 50-pound lingcod in 400 feet of water to get you warmed up.
Alaska is a beautiful, wild place that is filled with surprises. On the final day of the trip, we went around the corner to look for salmon and found this humpback whale.
Exit Glacier just outside of Seward, Alaska, makes for a great car ride if you have a few hours to kill and feel like seeing some sights.
Andy made this release tool out of a broom handle and a piece of stainless wire. The wire is connected to the tip of the stick in a U shape. He uses this to grab the exposed barb of the circle hook. Then he clips the leader and pulls the hook and leader out. It’s much easier than yanking a fish in the boat and fighting to get the hook out.
Andy revives a big halibut before the release. The fish stay nice and calm if you leave them in the water. Few captains in Alaska would be willing to release a trophy halibut, but Andy understands the status of the fishery and we caught more than enough meat for everyone.
Perfect jigging conditions. Bob Hoose caught most of his fish using the jigs, which was more fun than waiting for a baited rod to get bit. This Penn Torque 15 may look small but this reel is capable of more than enough drag to battle these big flatfish.
The yelloweye loved the jigs. Sometimes the current made getting down into the zone tough, but Andy has a jig for every occasion.
Capt. Andy Mezirow
Jeff Seward and Andy Mezirow hoist up a nice halibut caught by angler Lute Cunningham on a soft-plastic jig that he fished off of a Penn Fathom reel and Carnage rod combo.
Spice of Life
The group spent one night at Port Ashton Lodge (www.portashtonlodge.com), located on Sawmill Bay and accessible only by boat. It was nice to get off the boat for a bit and enjoy the fire pit, the wood-fired hot tub, the plush cabins and some homemade pecan bars!
The early-morning view from our cabin of Sawmill Bay was enough to get me out of bed. From the lodge it was less than an hour to our next halibut spot off Montague.
The salmon bite was just starting to pick up steam at the tail end of our mid-June trip. Another week and it’d be full on.
Everybody caught fish on the trip, even me, making it a memorable adventure on a number of different levels. New friendships, great fishing, a drained bottle of Maker’s Mark by the fire, awesome food and perfect weather Unforgettable for sure.
By the end of the trip, this lucky leadhead jig was looking pretty haggard. But if it ain’t broke
If you’re looking to book the halibut trip of a lifetime, contact Capt. Andy Mezirow at Crackerjack Sportfishing Charters in Seward, Alaska (www.crackerjackcharters.com / 800-566-3912). Tell him that Bloodydecks sent you.
In 1963 Penn introduced a reel that has grown to be one, if not the most popular work horse reels on the market, the Spinfisher. Fifty years later, Penn has significantly upgraded this reel with a new water-tight design, more powerful Slammer Drag and full metal body.