I haven't talked about the Kachemak Bay Winter King Tournament in Homer before on this blog, but I did blog about the joy of catching a "winter king" back in November of last year. Ruth and I have been fishing for winter kings for probably 15 years. Before we bought our boat Skookum, we fished for two years out of our old open skiff before we hit it right and caught one of these kings.
When the rod popped off, we looked at each other and wondered, "Could it be?"
We catch them regularly now and the tournament -- the largest and highest prize payout in the state of Alaska -- is an annual rite for us.
This year my fishing buddy Mike Barth, a longtime Alaskan and Homer resident, and my brother (who lives in New Mexico now, but lived in Seldovia in the 1980's), fished in the tournament as Team Skookum. It was a cold and windy, but gorgeous day. The other two caught a fish each; I was content to drive the boat and hunt for fish as their captain.
We didn't win any prizes, but there's one side bet I make on the boat every year: that it won't be "skunked" (not catch fish). Unbelievably, in the twelve tournaments we've fished in, we've been skunked more times than we've been successful. There's lots of stress to perform on tournament day, and that pressure can make a captain desperate!
This year, with our little fish, we won that bet.