Interview with Howard McKim E-mail
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 05:34

I’m not sure when I first became aware of Howard McKim.  I knew there was a kayak fishing guide service in Ketchikan, Alaska and Howard was the owner.  When I got to know Allen (polepole from NWKA) he suggested that Howard and I speak as Howard might need a guide for the summer.  At the time I was in the Everglades, writing my book, fishing and occasionally guiding for Everglades Kayak Fishing.  The thought of spending a month or a summer guiding in Alaska had a lot of appeal.  It didn’t come about but I had a couple chats with him.  You can read more about Howard and his business here.  www.yakfishalaska.com/your_guide.html  Below are a few things I asked Howard. 

Halibut

When did you first start kayak fishing and what made you start?
I started about 10 years ago after getting beat up in the surf trying to surf fish. I always wanted to go farther out and a kayak is the perfect solution. It was so cool to finally be out there, outside the kelp beds catching better fish.

When did you decide to start guiding?
I decided to start guiding after too many years in the corporate world. I changed from an office with no windows, to an office with no windows in a different sense. No walls either. I started guiding after realizing that a normal job just wouldn't work for me.

You’ve had some pretty exciting catches in the big fish department.  I know of the app. 180# doormat halibut.  And Allen told me that it was your idea to give the salmon sharks a shot.  Also I understand that you were hooked up to a blue marlin down in Baja for a while.  How about you tell me about them and any that I might have missed?
Yeah I've been lucky to hook up on some nice challenging fish.  I got a lot of attention for the biggest halibut, but there have been quite a few others that stand out in my mind too.  My first 50 pounder, I was out fishing across the channel from my house, in rough seas, with sea lions snorting all around me because the fish was hanging part way off the kayak.   That stands out for me. I even landed on the same island with the 183 pounder and filleted it on the beach in pouring rain, with eagles swooping down for the scraps, that was my 'I've arrived' Alaska moment.

HowardThe salmon shark appealed to me since arriving in Alaska.  It seemed to be the most challenging thing to go for in a kayak.  I didn't know anything about it and eventually Allen put together the trip for us to give it a shot. The truth is we didn't know anything about it until we were dropping huge baits into the water with sharks jumping all around us.  We learned about it real quick with immediate hook ups.  That was more of a surreal experience than an adrenaline one.  Really remote, with glassy seas, whales, sea lions, tons of sharks thrashing the surface around us and each of us hooked into one of them.  It was nice to show what can be done in a kayak, but I don't need to do that one again.

The latest was the blue marlin in Mexico.  That was the adrenaline rush.  It’s amazing to hook into such a big charging fish from a kayak.  I got it on live bait and it towed me around for almost five hours, and about 10 miles to sea.  There were a lot of aerial displays at the beginning and the end of the fight and about 3 hours of steady pulling as it towed me slowly along.  The fish never tired. Those fish just don't get tired.

 

It got real sketchy at the end as the fish was real close and it was crashing the surface.  It even charged me once from way too close. It got unpredictable and we didn't know where the fish would charge from next. I was with Jim Sammons and we determined the fish would not be handled since it was just too hazardous.  Common sense has to take over at some point.  We had to get back in due to the coming hurricane and eventually I broke the fish off, just about at the leader.  I got more than I asked for and don't think I want that fish in my lap.

These big fish are great memories, but there's a lot more.  Just me, out there kayak fishing, when something unique or grand happens, or I hook into something that is just perfect in that time and place, and I think to myself 'I'll never forget this day'. I'm super lucky to have a lifestyle that gives me so many of those days.

www.yakfishalaska.com/your_guide.html

Big halibut in my yard

 

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