The surface of the ocean was quiet. Little dark runs occasionally appeared when light puffs of wind rippled the surface for a moment or two and then disappeared. No swells, no lumps, just flat calm. There was no outward indication of the battle that was about to ensue; nothing to warn us of the monster that lurked below.
We had decided to fish out a couple of miles northeast of the Flat ground off from Halibut Point where the 150-ft. line drops into a deep canyon. When we arrived there were a couple of draggers working to the north and three recreational boats already drifting on the water. I shut down the Yamaha and rigged the lines. Bob and Al decided to go deep with chunks, but I had another idea in mind.
I attached a sturdy No. 6 circle hook to a 24-in, 80-lb. test wire leader and knotted that to the 80-lb. test braided line I had spooled onto my Penn spinning reel. I stripped out about 25 feet of line, blew up a white balloon, knotted it off and attached it to the line. I do that by wrapping the line around the knotted end of the balloon several times one way and then taking the other end that is leading away from the balloon and wrapping it over the other wrap. This binds it in place without having to actually tie a knot. When anything strikes, the balloon spins and comes free and there is no knot in the line when you reel it in. After a battle you simply pick up the floating balloon.
I then took a frozen mackerel that had been thawing in the sun and put the big hook through the backbone just behind the head. Slipping the whole rig into the water, I let the balloon carry the bait away from the boat. Soon I had a balloon acting like a big bobber holding the bait from descending any farther down than the 25 feet of line that was below the balloon. Dropping the rod into a stern rod holder, I started cutting chunks of mackerel and threw them over the side for chum. I soon had a pretty good line going out the back.