Fishing & Boating News

Babe Winkelman Fishing .....September

Anglers are always arguing about which fish is "pound for pound" the strongest fighter.

by: Babe Winkelman, Babe Winkelman Productions

(Thursday, August 20,1998 - ) Anglers are always arguing about which fish is "pound for pound" the strongest fighter.

Actually, our lakes and rivers are full of fish that are toughas barbed wire. From the scrappy bluegill in the featherweight division to the acrobatic smallmouth bass in the lightweight class to powerful middleweights like musky and pike, there are lots of bona fide contenders for the pound-for-pound crown.

But when it comes to knockout power you can't beat a heavyweight, a fish so powerful it'll leave your forearms burning and your back a knot of twisted, achy musles.

After standing toe-to-toe with several white sturgeon in the 250-pound class, I figured those prehistoric monsters might be the heavyweight champ. When a 10-foot sturgeon makes a run it'll bend a broomstick-thick rod in half and stretch 120-pound line to the breaking point.

But there's another fish on the heavyweight list, one that could go 15 rounds with an armor-plated sturgeon. That fish is the halibut.

On my last trip to Alaska I stepped into the ring with a halibut of world-record proportions, a fish so strong it left me seeing stars, broke the captain's finger and required a small arm to bring to subdue.

It happened at Unalga Pass, a narrow opening between the islands of Unalga and Unalaska in the Aleutian chain. We were aborad the Shure Good with under the command of Capt. Kiwi Thompson, as affable transplant from Australia.

We'd been catching 30 to 40 smaller fish a day. He knew just the spot. The first one caught there weighed 150 pounds. I was still shaking the sknots out of my forearms when I hooked another, one that felt more like a submarine.

The halibut that skimmed the surface three hours later was the biggest I'd ever seen. The crew estimated it at better than 300 pounds. Cap'n Kiwi harpooned the sea monster and rapped the rope around his gloved hands to haul it over the side of the boat. The halibut had other ideas. It began bucking like a rodeo bull, snapping Kiwi's left index finger like a matchstick. It took the cres of two boats to finally subdue the big fish.

Eight hours later, after it had regurgitated a 10-pound octopus tentacle and lay in the bottom of the camera boat all day, my trophy tipped the scales at 411 pounds, just 48 pounds shy of the existing world record. Kiwi figured that had we weighed the fish sooner, it might have been closet the record.

Record or not, it was one of the most powerful fish I ever battled, a bona fide contender for the heavyweight crown.

Tune into Babe Winkelman's award-winning television show "Outdoor Secrets" on Superstation WGN at 1:00 a.m. Friday night, 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning and 2:30 a.m. Saturday night (all Central). For information regarding Babe Winkelman's new club, "Society of Outdoor Sportsmen," call toll free 1-800-333-0471 (Monday-Friday 8:00 am 0 5:00 pm Central) or write S.O.S., P. O. Box 407, Brainerd, MN 56401.