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Cedar Key may be the “Clam Capital of the World.” However, Homer, Alaska, is the official halibut capital of the world. In fact, like Cedar Key’s clam claim, there’s a sign at the city limits that says so.
And halibut fishing it was for friends Bob Hudson of Cedar Key, his son Rob of St. Petersburg, and their two friends, Darwin Fuchs of Miami and Tim Bowen of Gainesville.
This is the group’s fourth visit to Alaska and in years past they have caught “shooters." Shooters are large halibut weighing more than 100 pounds.
"They have to shoot (the fish) with a shotgun before bringing them in the boat,” Bob Hudson said. “The smaller ones are better to eat anyway.”
Their guide used light tackle and grouper-type jigs for the halibut.
"It's great fun when you get a big one on," Hudson said. "I have caught them up to 125 pounds there, and they get even bigger."
This year’s trip was rainy and windy, so they had the best luck catching four of the five species of salmon — King salmon/Chinooks, Silver Salmon/Coho, Pink Salmon/Humpies and Chum salmon/Dog salmon.
The men stayed at the Emerald Pines Lodge in Homer for five days. Each day after fishing, the deckhand would clean, vacuum seal and flash freeze the catch, so it could be packed as luggage for the ride home.
Bob Hudson’s longtime friend, Darwin Fuchs, 76, is a retired president of the Dade County Fair, lives in Miami and had a stroke five years ago. Hudson explains that Fuchs “does (physical therapy) all year long so he will be in condition to go on this trip.”
Tim Bowen is the president of Haven Hospice, which is based in Gainesville and serves 23 counties in North Florida and rounded out the group of four fishermen.
The lodge is run by Steve and Roma Novakovich. Steve had his own float plane but crashed it 20 years ago – breaking his back. He and a friend survived for five days in the wilderness before they were rescued after making their way to an old fur trapper’s cabin. Now he is a charter boat captain. Roma cooks breakfast and dinner and packs lunches for the men to eat while they fish.