By Pat Ford
Most of my time in Alaska has been fly fishing for rainbow trout and salmon, but on my last trip I was invited to join Guide Dave Wilson and my friend Tony Weaver on Paul Cahill’s boat Northern Exposure for a long range trip out to Middleton Island. Middleton is 150 miles from Wittier and is rarely fished. Weather has to be perfect and you have to be able to overnight on the boat to make the trip worthwhile…there are not a lot of people who have ever fished Middleton.
We left Whittier around 5pm on July 5 and ran about 75 miles to the tip of Montague Island where we spent the night after emptying Paul’s shrimp traps. The next morning we ran another 75 mils before we started fishing. This was a meat fishing trip…we were after halibut, ling cod and rockfish with the possibility of an occasional king salmon. We were bottom fishing in areas that ranged from 80 to 300 feet of water and I soon learned that if I used the jigs we normally used in Florida all I caught were rockfish and small ling cod. Fially Dave explained that if I wanted big fish, I needed big food…so big that the smaller fish would ignore it. Now ‘big food’ in Alaska means a 16 oz jig with a giant grub tail and a chunk of salmon for smell. Sure enough, the rockfish ignored it and I wound up with a 135 lb halibut. We had tw0 days of solid fishing before a front arrived and drove us back to the dock. On the way home we did take some time out to empty Paul’s shrimp traps again. It cost me $200 in extra baggage fees to bring home 50 lbs of filets but it was well worth it.