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Tim Berg's Massive Halibut
Wins State of Alaska Trophy Halibut and $10,000 Derby Prize
Tim Berg is all smiles after his big catch weighed in at 319.6
pounds qualify his fish for a State Of Alaska Trophy Halibut Certificate!! To qualify, a halibut must be at
least 250 pounds and must be certified at a State approved weigh-in facility.
Big Fish Aboard The fish was weighed in at the Official
Seward Derby Weigh-In Station and registered at 319.6 pounds. The fish was 88 inches in length.
"I used a TRQ 200 loaded with 40 pound mono line and the battle lasted 41 minutes", said Tim. The fish is
currently in first place in the Seward Halibut Derby.
Check out the story from Alaska's Peninsula Clarion
Soldotna man gets big 'but
By Joseph Robertia | Peninsula Clarion
Tim Berg, of Tim Berg's Alaskan Fishing Adventures, has seen a lot of halibut caught while guiding fishing charter for the
past 31 years, but he was amazed by his own catch Tuesday, and even more surprised that he caught it on light tackle.
"It's the biggest fish I've ever caught on a salmon rod," he said, regarding the 319 pound, 9 ounce barndoor he boated while fishing out of Seward near the Montague Flats area.
This unforgettable day began much like many others, except Berg had decided to spend time fishing rather than guiding as a result of having some friends up from California. They were aboard the Grande Alaska with Capt. Mike Schmahll.
"I don't get to go out much, so I took the day off and we all headed out of Seward at 6 a.m.,"
By around 9 a.m. they reached their destination and everyone geared up and sent their herring bait to the bottom. But Berg said the start was less than stellar.
"We put out lines in the water, but nobody was getting halibut, so I decided to drop a salmon rod over the side," he said.
Berg realized almost immediately that sometimes it pays off to be the odd man out.
"As soon as I hit the bottom I got something," he said, but Berg wasn't sure what that something was.
As he pulled up on the line the rod bent like a horseshoe, but he didn't seem to move the unidentified item.
"Everyone else thought it was snag, but I thought it was a fish, and then it started to making runs and we all knew it was a fish," he said.
Maybe it was a skate or maybe it was a halibut. Berg wasn't sure, so he decided to fish it up cautiously either way.
"I couldn't put pressure on him. I had a 10 1/2 rod, with a new Penn Torque 200 reel, with 40 pound test that was doubled over the whole time. And with a light leader and a tiny hook, I didn't know if I'd be able to do it. I just brought him up three to four inches at a time," he said.
Berg fought the fish for 41 minutes and said it helped that the massive creature never made runs of more than five to 10 yards, which furthered the belief of some on the boat that he still had a skate on the end of the line. However, as soon Berg brought the behemoth up to a viewable level, all on board knew it was a big halibut and not a close cousin to a shark or stingray.
"No one thought it was going to be as big as it was, but as soon as we could see it and see it was a halibut, we all started scrambling," he said.
The fish was dispatched and all 88 inches were brought on board with some heave-hoes from Berg and others.
As much as it seemed his halibut was the large catch of a lifetime, Berg said he actually had caught an even bigger barndoor in the past, but the experience didn't compare to taking this most recent fish on light tackle.
"I caught a 360-pounder in the '80s, but that was on halibut gear. Getting this incredible fish on light tackle, it was my biggest accomplishment ever," he said.
Since Berg's fish weighed more than the minimum of 250 pounds, he is eligible to receive a trophy fish certificate
through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Trophy Fish program. His halibut also makes him a favorite to win the 2008
Seward Halibut Tournament, which runs through June.
"I remembered to buy a derby ticket on the way out, so now I'm leading it, which it's kind of rare for a Soldotna local to be leading," he said.
Daily tickets for the tournament are $10, or three days for $25. Berg bumped Wasilla resident Christopher Lafe's 178-pound halibut, caught aboard Glacier Fishing Charters' Noble Eagle on June 12, to second place.
Last year's tournament winner was a 251.2-pound whopper, so Berg already has surpassed this benchmark, as well. If his fish stands as the biggest catch for one more week, he will take home $10,000 in winnings and a seat on a June 2009 Seward-based halibut charter. He said he's not counting his anything but a chicken, until it hatches, though.
"You never know what will happen when it comes to fishing in Alaska," he said.
For more information on 2008 Seward Halibut Tournament or to get daily updates, visit the Seward Chamber of Commerce Web site at www.sewardak.org.
Here is the article that appeared in the Anchorage Daily News
A Shaq-sized flatfish
BARN DOOR: Soldotna angler lands a 319.6-pound halibut.
By KEVIN KLOTT
Published: June 27th, 2008 03:49 AM
Less than a week before the Seward Halibut Tournament's final day, Soldotna angler Tim Berg wrestled a herculean halibut from the Gulf of Alaska on Tuesday morning that could be worth $10,000.
Fishing with lifelong friend Terry Gonsalves aboard the Grande Alaska to celebrate his retirement from the Napa Police Department
in California, it was Berg's 319.6-pound humdinger, landed on a king salmon rod rigged with 40-pound-test line, that truly
got the party started.
"It was just lucky, lucky, lucky," Berg said by cell phone from Soldotna. "This was an experience of a lifetime."
Luck? Maybe. But reeling in a monster flatfish on 40-pound test in about 45 minutes required Berg to show off some special fishing skills too. The 7-foot-4, 319.6-pound halibut is taller but slightly lighter than NBA star Shaquille O'Neal (7-1, 325).
"It was pretty epic," said captain Mike Schmahl by cell phone from Seward. "Forty-pound test on a Kenai River salmon rod? I still don't believe it."
Berg's been an Alaska fishing guide for 31 years, and he's caught plenty of big fish, Schmahl said.
But more often than not, the daily grind of Berg's charter business -- Tim Berg's Alaskan Fishing Adventures -- cuts into his personal fishing time.
"But (Tuesday) was my time to go fishing," Berg said. "That's exactly what we did."
The day started at 6 a.m. with overcast skies on the Seward small-boat harbor. Schmahl told Berg, Gonsalves and a group of Maryland clients that decent-size fish were only a 2 1/2-hour trip away.
So Gonsalves purchased a $10 derby ticket for Berg and himself.
Berg "never buys a derby ticket," Schmahl said. "Maybe it's to avoid controversy. But he didn't have a choice."
Berg said Gonsalves must have felt the good karma. Just a couple days before the trip, Berg landed a 127-pound halibut three miles off the island with his king rod, a 10 1/2-foot pole that has yet to battle a salmon this season.
After catching the halibut, Berg figured, "I guess this is kind of my lucky rod."
He didn't think he'd latch onto another big halibut with it, but roughly 15 minutes after Schmahl anchored the twin-engine diesel-powered boat in 160 feet of water, he did.
Berg lowered his bait, trying to target a king salmon. But what took the chunk of herring before it even bounced off the sea floor was anything but a king.
"It was like a vacuum cleaner sucked the end of my line," Berg said. "Maybe I was snagged to a submarine?"
Schmahl wasn't convinced Berg had a king, halibut or a submerged watercraft. He figured Berg had lodged the hook between some rocks on the floor of the Gulf of Alaska.
Everybody on the boat just laughed at the 53-year-old.
"Oh yeah! I got a big halibut," Berg told everyone. "I'm not kidding ya!"
But Berg had no proof. Though his rod tip sank quickly, it never yanked or twitched, a sure sign that a head-shaker is hooked to the end.
But Berg kept believing and "hung on for dear life." Finally, his rod tip moved.
Luckily for Berg, the tide had just slacked, which gave him the upper hand in the battle between his 40-pound-test
line and a fish that felt more like a Volkswagen.
"I had so much pressure on the line that I didn't give him an inch (of slack)," Berg said. "I was certain that something was going to give."
But the Alaska transplant from Sacramento braced himself against the railing of the 37-foot boat. Berg worked his way into the rhythm of the battle, pulling up on the rod, then lowering the tip and cranking the reel in fast bursts.
For a moment, his forearms burned so much he wanted to cut the line. But he had a derby ticket and maybe a fish worth ten grand.
After nearly 40 minutes of pumping and reeling, the fish surfaced and Berg confirmed it was a halibut. The fish was so large, Gonsalves shot it with a shotgun, Schmahl gaffed it and Brian Erickson harpooned it.
The halibut measured 88 inches long across its specked back. The tail alone was 28 inches wide.
"I've seen thousands of fish come out of the Gulf and this had to be the most unique," Berg said. "It had golden fins."
And if nobody lands a heavier halibut by Monday, Berg's payout will have the worth of more than 11 ounces of
If he wins, Berg plan to distribute half of the winnings to each angler on the boat. After all, if it wasn't for his childhood friend, he wouldn't be in this position.
The other half will go to the American Cancer Society, specifically to research prostate cancer.
Berg was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago and had intensive surgery and radiation treatment. Tuesday morning's battle with a barn-door halibut, he said, was nothing compared to surviving cancer.
"Landing the fish was a lot easier," he said.