Beau Gillis

Beau Gillis and his 83-inch halibut in the back of his truck after a lucky day at sea. (Beau Gillis)

A fisherman in Freeport, N.S.on Long Island off Digby Neck landed a 219-pound halibut a week ago —not the biggest record catch of the fish but certainly something to brag about.

Halibut are usually between 10 and 50 pounds, said Beau Gillis.

Gillis taught himself to fish alone when he first started in 2008.

When he went out fishing last week he was alone on a calm and clear day in his own secret fishing spot in the Bay of Fundy behind Westport. 

After dropping his long-line hooks overboard, he was waiting for his usual five hours to pull them back up.

“It’s my favourite part of the job, you finally get them all to bottom and it takes four to five hours for the halibut to find them and for the crabs and lobsters to eat bait off the hooks,” he said.

Then all of a sudden one of the lines went tight, while he was removing a hook.

“I thought the boat had drifted over the bottom and caught. But it let go, and then pulled really hard again. I noticed there wasn’t any tide so I knew I had a big one.”

Gillis used a hydraulic puller that brought the fish to the surface.

He’d caught a large fish before two years ago, but that one had escaped when he tried to pull it onboard.

Gillis put a gaff, a large hook, in the fish’s bottom lip and gave it all he had.

“I pulled him up between my legs, leaned backward and he flopped in,” said Gillis. 

“It’s easy to be strong when you have a $1,000 fish on the line.”

Gillis said the fish had long scars on his scales and didn’t put up much of a fight.

“It’s a pretty rare experience,” said Gillis. “Usually it’s just work and killing things for a living. That‘s what fishermen do. So just for a split second I thought, “I should just let this go and not say a word’.”

Gillis did sell the 83-inch halibut for more than $1,000 to the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa.

“Everyone gets a big one after a while, now and then,” he said.