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Thread: I have a halibut bite.... Now what?

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    Default I have a halibut bite.... Now what?

    OK here is the question. I am fishing a circle hook with bait and have a fish hit it. What do you do next? Give it some line? Leave the rod in the holder? What do you do?

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    A or B. Then slowly pull up to see if you feel weight. Then reel in.

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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    I've had mixed results with circle hooks. One thing you do need to do right off the bat is sharpen them. I have yet to find any good circle hooks that were very sharp out of the package.

    Setting the hook is kind of against the idea of the circle but it is very tempting. The best method we have found is to start reeling slowly as the fish is hitting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    I know a lot of guys also bend the hooks slightly so the tip is offset from the eye by 1/4" or so.
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Best to just let the fish hook itself, and as mentioned use a sharp hook with an offset. Sometimes what feels like a halibut biting is a smaller fish steeling your bait.

    Or forget the circle hook with bait and jig.
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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    I usually lift the rod tip up. Dont jerk it back because it will just pull the hook out. Once you lift give it a few cranks on the reel and that will usually "set" the hook. Every now and then I will miss one but usually this gets that hook to thread through.
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    Remember there's a variety of fish down there. I've been catching pollock, gray cod, irish lord, shark, and halibut - all at the same time. the cod and pollock seem to peck alot and steal bait. smaller halibut do too. you know if you're on fish because you're getting bites constantly. If you are getting bites and then suddenly aren't getting bites then make sure and check bait often cuz they are always stealing.

    I've found that when the bigger halibut move in, they mean business and they just grab it. The irish lord do too. When I'm using a circle hook, I'm usually holding the bait off the bottom a bit, so I drop the tip a bit to keep the pressure off and wait a few seconds for them to eat it. When I lift and feel weight, then I just lift up all the way and begin reeling.

    I've found lately that I'm catching bigger fish with a 12 ounce jig and a 12 inch grub with about a half a herring. Again, I hold it off the bottom a little. I get a bite with some authority, and I drop the tip and "feed it" a little bit. Then lift, and if there's solid weight, i SET THE HOOK with the jig. This has been more productive for me as most of my fish this way have been 25-75 pounds.

    Also, sometimes they just come in and nail it, and it becomes quite obvious that you have a substantial fish on, and there is no need for any finesse! Love it when that happens...

    Yesterday I was reeling up thinking that I would check my bait, and about 30 feet off the bottom, a big halibut must have chased it up, and it just engulfed the bait. This was on a revo toro winch and a 7.5 foot medium heavy baitcast rod, so it put on a heck of a fight!

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    cod and pollock "peck", bigger halibut "load". You can usually tell the difference by watching your rod tip.

    Also, sometimes you just lose them on the way up because they aren't hooked well, or because they tear loose (check drag). It happens...

    I'm new to this, so I'm trying to figure out how to minimize this as well.

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    Member Mort's Avatar
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    If there are fish in the area, I usually hold on to the rod. When a fish starts tapping, I lift the rod tip slowly. I think of it like gently taking a toy from a toddler, they get possessive, and commit to keeping it. Many times that makes the fish engage in a tug-of-war, which helps set the hook. I will usually only put the rod in a holder to help another with a fish, get some food or shed clothes, or if there is just no action at the moment.

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    When I notice the taps i get by the rod, once it starts to plunge down a few times and I know it's not a cod or other little pecker kind of fish I take it out of rod holder and get ready. When they keep tugging hard I let em have it for a bit, usually feeling the gulps as it works it's way up a bigger bait. Once it gets full on heavy, I lift slow and start reeling.

    Last year I had the rod in my hands when a 70 sucked in a full length coho carcass......now that was a sensation not forgotten.

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    [QUOTE=AKmud;1299293]I've had mixed results with circle hooks. One thing you do need to do right off the bat is sharpen them. I have yet to find any good circle hooks that were very sharp out of the package.


    VMC Perma-Steel circle hooks, very sharp conical point right from the start, unlike most big circle hooks which look like the thick wire was hammered flat to make a point, then sharpened a bit. These VMC's also sharpen easily and don't rust easily, like the chromed hooks that are brittle and hard to sharpen. I found a great deal maybe 5 years ago on a box of 100, 16-0, at an online place called "Captain Hook". Haven't looked for them lately since when you already have a bunch, you don't seem to lose them!

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    Quote Originally Posted by c6 batmobile View Post
    I usually lift the rod tip up. Dont jerk it back because it will just pull the hook out. Once you lift give it a few cranks on the reel and that will usually "set" the hook. Every now and then I will miss one but usually this gets that hook to thread through.
    When I feel a bite I usually stand up and lower the tip down to the surface of the water. I wait till I feel some constant weight on the line then I slowly lift and reel at the same time. Even when I know the fish is on I give just a very small jerk just to know that the circle hook threaded through.
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    I'm still doing well with these VMC hooks you turned me on to back in 2010 Ron. My catch rates have steadily increased over the past few years as my experience grows and I have only positive experiences to report. [QUOTE=Cap'n Ron;1301479]
    Quote Originally Posted by AKmud View Post
    I've had mixed results with circle hooks. One thing you do need to do right off the bat is sharpen them. I have yet to find any good circle hooks that were very sharp out of the package.


    VMC Perma-Steel circle hooks, very sharp conical point right from the start, unlike most big circle hooks which look like the thick wire was hammered flat to make a point, then sharpened a bit. These VMC's also sharpen easily and don't rust easily, like the chromed hooks that are brittle and hard to sharpen. I found a great deal maybe 5 years ago on a box of 100, 16-0, at an online place called "Captain Hook". Haven't looked for them lately since when you already have a bunch, you don't seem to lose them!

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    I was always taught as a kid to set the hook, so that was a hard habit to break with circle hooks. In a way it takes some of the fun out of it, but I've had my best success with the same lower the tip and give them a bit of slack so they don't spook at the feel of the tension, let them eat. Once they are hooked they put on a steady pressure...I saw the world "load" used and that's a good way to describe it. Then lift the rod and start reeling. Honestly, I've been on trips where the most successful "hooker" was the one with the rod in the holder the entire time until the halibut started fighting the boat holding the rod.

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Best way to avoid small bites is to fish bait or lure 5-10 feet off bottom especially with soft bait like herring, if you use whole cod like 9 inchers and salmon heads you can get away with fishing closer to bottom. Big fish will come up for bait and small fish will usually avoid coming up as they will be eaten. Tug Tug means lower rod and start crankin, tap tap means wind up to avoid catching sculpin or little fish.
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    Member AKluvr95's Avatar
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    I think your post is spot on. We'd all like smashing takedowns [had a nice one this past week] but it's more of a case your dammed if you do dammed if you don't try to get them rascals to eat that hook. I think there's something for us to learn here by reeling up a few more cranks. I look forward to trying it this week.
    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakcombo View Post
    Best way to avoid small bites is to fish bait or lure 5-10 feet off bottom especially with soft bait like herring, if you use whole cod like 9 inchers and salmon heads you can get away with fishing closer to bottom. Big fish will come up for bait and small fish will usually avoid coming up as they will be eaten. Tug Tug means lower rod and start crankin, tap tap means wind up to avoid catching sculpin or little fish.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    OK here is the question. I am fishing a circle hook with bait and have a fish hit it. What do you do next? Give it some line? Leave the rod in the holder? What do you do?
    The Norwegian Cod Hook (aka circle hook) was designed for the fish to set the hook on itself. One of the hardest things for a fisherman (male variety) is to NOT "set the hook" when fishing with circle hooks. As someone previously stated, if I'm holding the rod, I ease the rod tip down towards the water, maybe even feed "it" some line, then when I feel a steady pressure I begin "cranking".. I have known larger halibut to "inhale" the bait and just lay there, then about the time you think it's time to do a bait check - Surprise. I've also seen decent sized halibut inhale the bait and simply hold on with their mouth shut all the way to the top, and then about the time you realize they aren't hooked, and before you can get a gaff or harpoon into them, they open the jaws and drift away with the tide.. So what it boils down to (IMHO) How to hook a Halibut is something you kinda have to develope a feel for.

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKluvr95 View Post
    I think your post is spot on. We'd all like smashing takedowns [had a nice one this past week] but it's more of a case your dammed if you do dammed if you don't try to get them rascals to eat that hook. I think there's something for us to learn here by reeling up a few more cranks. I look forward to trying it this week.
    Good luck out there, whatever small fish you catch cut it up and put it on! arrow tooth flounder, cod, irish lord, flounder, etc... fresh is best!
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    Member NeverLand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakcombo View Post
    Best way to avoid small bites is to fish bait or lure 5-10 feet off bottom especially with soft bait like herring, if you use whole cod like 9 inchers and salmon heads you can get away with fishing closer to bottom. Big fish will come up for bait and small fish will usually avoid coming up as they will be eaten. Tug Tug means lower rod and start crankin, tap tap means wind up to avoid catching sculpin or little fish.
    Right on! Personally, I leave the rod in the holder and let the fish hook themselves, when using circle hooks.

  19. #19

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    A lot of times the fish will just hook themselves. When I was a Charter Boat deckhand in Seward I used to tell people to leave the rod in the rod holder and watch the tip for a bite. Then there were 2 options depending on the clients ability, physical condition, experience, etc., the first being start slowly reeling while the the rods in the rod holder until the the line comes taught and then start reeling fast to set the hook. The other was to use the rocking chair technique when rod is in hand. Reel down til the rod tip is pointed at the water, then slowly lean back pointing the tip in the air, reel down, lean back slowly, repeat. The key to success is keeping those hooks sharp and let the fish do the work! Fish On!
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  20. #20

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    With circle hooks, the rod holder is your best friend. After you've done it for awhile, you can immediately tell the difference between a 12lb hali or a 150lb hali by the way they bite. Big slow bends are your biggest hali. Furious shaking is the smaller ones. 50's are somewhere in the middle.

    I basically tell my clients to wait tell the halibut is pulling the rod top down towards the water and holding it down. Then, just start cranking with the rod in the holder. Then after 20 or so cranks, pull it out of the holder.. or some just leave it in.

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