Updated: Mar 3, 2020
My name is Tyler Kraft, I’m a charter fishing captain for the Cascade Creek Lodge in Sitka, Alaska. This blog post is featuring everything halibut.
Halibut have been a staple of the Southeast Alaska fishery for thousands of years! Known for their unique appearance and flakey white meat, halibut are the biggest species of flounder. They are born looking like a normal fish, with an eye on each side of their body. After halibut mature for a few months, one eye relocates to the other side! Female halibut can grow much larger than the males, over 500 lbs!
My home of Sitka, Alaska is an excellent place to fish for halibut! Our first step in halibut fishing is going for a boat ride off shore. Halibut can be found near a variety of bottom features and depths, such as trenches, reefs, pinnacles and areas of rocky, gravel, sand and mud. Depths that we typically target halibut range from 300 - 700 feet.
Like other bottom fish, halibut feed by using their sense of smell. Many fisherman call bottom fishing a soak, because you are attracting the fish to you by putting bait on your hooks allowing ’scent’ to diffuse into the current. Anchoring the boat is ideal to create a base for the scent, and it also allows us to fish multiple rods without many snags or tangles. Often once we start fishing you have to allow the scent to travel down-current before we start receiving bites. You might exercise patience to have a successful fish!
There are many different types of bait and hooks an angler can use, my personal favorite is pink salmon and circle hooks. Pink salmon is ideal because of the fat content in the meat, and because of the skin will stay on the hook well. Circle hooks are great because once a halibut has committed to bite they will stay on the hook on their journey to the surface. Another bonus is typically it allows us the ability to release the fish without hurting it. That said, jigs and J hooks are also very efficient and interactive ways to fish. You can’t go wrong using a combination of hooks.
It’s common to catch different sizes of halibut during your fish. The smaller fish are better for eating, the bigger ones are heavy fighters and make for great pictures.
According to the 2018 stock assessment, Pacific halibut are not overfished. This means halibut are fished at recommended levels that are set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The population had been declining from 1997 until 2013. Populations have been increasing since 2013 due to conservation efforts! We follow fishing regulations set by NOAA and the Alaskan Fish and Game for a sustainable fishery for the next generation of fishermen.
Interested in learning more about halibut fishing in Alaska? There's no better way than to experience it for yourself on a fishing trip in Sitka, Alaska!