By: John W. Scafetta
GLACIER BAY, Alaska — Seasoned fisherman Jack McGuire could have recognized the sound anywhere.
With a baited hook of pollack, herring and octopus, the Santa Ana resident, in the throes of his eighth fishing trip to Alaska and fourth consecutive journey to Glacier Bay, simply described the noise as “bump-a-dee-bump.”
As common as the resonance of a halibut chomping at his line has become for McGuire, even he knew something was different about this tug. He and his four friends were fishing with rod holders on the afternoon of July 3, when the tip of his rod quickly angled south.
“When that happens you immediately get up and walk over and you put your hand on the handle of the reel,” he said. “And then you watch that tip. If that tip goes bump-a-dee-bump but it starts going down, that’s usually a sign that the fish has the bait in his mouth.”
McGuire raced over to the rod and took two quick cranks.
“The next thing I know it took off to the North Pole when I tried to get the line over the back of the boat,” he said. “The captain stuck me in the corner. As soon as I started to do that third crank and that line took off, I hollered out ‘I got a big one!’”
McGuire spent nearly 30 minutes fighting the fish, before encountering 10 minutes of pure dead weight. When the men got the catch up to the side of boat, the captain yelled, “Oh my god! We’ve got a monster.”
McGuire said he had no idea of the size of the fish at first crank, but as soon as the captain uttered those words, he knew it was something out of the norm.
“Little did we know, we ended up pulling up a monster,” he said.
McGuire said his view was blocked as the men brought the fish aboard. The catch measured 95 inches long and weighed 482 pounds.
“It’s happened more than once up there where people’s legs have been broken because of halibut,” he said. “I didn’t give a damn if it was a record or not, my point was to catch the fish.”
McGuire’s haul outweighed the previous record, a 459-pound Pacific halibut which was reeled in off the Alaska coast in 1996. But his prize did not meet International Game Fish Association world-record regulations because it was shot and harpooned prior to being brought aboard.
McGuire, 76, said he was not concerned with the world record. In years past, he caught an 832-pound sturgeon in the Columbia River—his largest catch.
“I’ve caught a lot of fish over the years,” McGuire said. “There’s going to be bigger ones than I’ve caught and smaller ones than I’ve caught.”