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Thread: Black cod/sablefish around Ketchikan?

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    Default Black cod/sablefish around Ketchikan?

    Well, I tried to deep-drop on a trip up there a couple summers ago with no results. Would REALLY appreciate any guidance that any locals might have for catching a few of these delicious fish (I got to eat some last summer & was impressed to put it mildly!)

    We're using a 26' boat & I can roam a pretty long ways, but looking at my local charts, my intuition says that the Clarence strait area along the west side of Gravina island ought to be productive with 1,300-1,500 foot depths, but it would be nice to narrow down areas to try.

    Please feel free to reply on here or send me a PM. More than happy to buy you a case of your preferred beer for useful info while we're up there (last two weeks of July). Thanks guys.

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    Now that is a long way down for a bait check

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I don't know the area down there, but fish as deep as you can and your luck will increase. If you find any trenches, that's where you want to be. We catch them on flat, sandy bottoms, on mud, on rocky bottoms - but trenches are best, and the deeper the better. Granted, I'm working with longlines and hydraulics and in a different part of the state, but 1,300' is about the shallowest that we ever find sablefish, and numbers don't get good until we get below 1,600'-1,800'. If there is anything out there deeper than 2,000' and you've got the line for it, start there.

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    Brian, do you find them closer to the edge of the trench, or out in the middle of the 'flats' sections of said trenches? I've got about 900-950 yards of Spectra on my reel, so 1,800' is going to be about the maximum depth I'll be able to fish ... then again, I could respool with 65# instead of 80# braid for more line capacity ...

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Either should work. In my experience, as long as you're in the deeper spots that an area has to offer, you should be good to go with sablefish. If Southeast is anything like Prince William Sound, though, don't be surprised to hook into other fish. At those same depths we catch halibut, arrowtooth flounder, pacific cod, two types of skates, sleeper sharks, shortraker rockfish, rougheye rockfish, and below 2,000' we get into some thornyhead rockfish. I can't imagine what pulling up a large halibut from those depths would be like, but it's a distinct possibility.

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    Only black cod I've ever personally seen was off a rock pile in 65fow. But he was head fish down a lingcod's throat, only the tail stickin out. If you're fishing 2000fow without electric reels.....My hat's off to ya man.

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    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    I commercial fished them in that area. The best area's I found was off of Forrester Island and Noyes Island. Usually fishing in 600 to 1000 fathoms. (3600 to 6000 feet). I like the mud bottoms when I'm in that deep. Obviously, that's too far from Ketchikan to run, and it's offshore. There should be some in Clarence if you can find a deep enough hole, I just haven't heard of much being caught in there. Chatham will have excellent black cod, but may be further than you want to run. At least it's all inside stuff.

    Good luck!
    Claude
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    Yeah, Chatham looks to be a little too far for comfort (going by the online charts). There appears to be some 2,000+ places in Behm Canal & Clarence strait, so I'll just hope for some calm days while we're up there. Am also going to respool my Newell with 65# braid; ought to be able to pack 1,200 yards on it. My 'normal' deep dropping down here in the Gulf of Mexico is with a 50W 2 speed loaded with 1,500+ yards of braid, but thats an awfully heavy reel to pack up to Ketchikan.

    Do lights (cyalume sticks, etc) help with sablefish or is it not worth the trouble?

    Quote Originally Posted by denalihunter View Post
    I commercial fished them in that area. The best area's I found was off of Forrester Island and Noyes Island. Usually fishing in 600 to 1000 fathoms. (3600 to 6000 feet). I like the mud bottoms when I'm in that deep. Obviously, that's too far from Ketchikan to run, and it's offshore. There should be some in Clarence if you can find a deep enough hole, I just haven't heard of much being caught in there. Chatham will have excellent black cod, but may be further than you want to run. At least it's all inside stuff.

    Good luck!
    Claude

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    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    You should be able to find some in the deepest parts of Clarence. Don't sweat the lights. I've tried everything when commercial fishing them, and just good old squid or octopus works best. I would soak that bait in a herring mash to give it more smell, but don't count on herring making it to the bottom still on the hook. If you can find salmon, that works great if you can hook it through the skin so it won't come off. When fishing over a mile deep, I put a 16 ounce styrofoam cup on a hook, in a bag.. pulled it back up and the pressure is so great down there, it came back the size of a thimble.

    Blackcod are by far the finest eating fish on the planet, it my opinion! Bring some bisquick, a beer, and some oil and deep fry some up as soon as you catch the first one!

    Claude
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    When folks sport fish around here you make sure you have a breakable piece of line between your weights and the hooks, lowers stress of hooking a sleeper and being tied to the bottom. Double hook set ups on a spreader help with the fears of a bait check too often. Indeed, salmon with skin on is excellent bait for this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by denalihunter View Post
    When fishing over a mile deep, I put a 16 ounce styrofoam cup on a hook, in a bag.. pulled it back up and the pressure is so great down there, it came back the size of a thimble.
    Well, at a mile deep you're looking at pressures of something like 2,352psi, so no surprises there (at 2,000 feet, it's a paltry 891psi!). What does surprise me is the Youtube videos I've been watching of commercial blackcod fishing. The fish are being hauled up from those incredible pressures & they appear to be kicking & feisty with no signs of barotrauma ...I take it that they don't have swim bladders?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeek the Greek View Post
    What does surprise me is the Youtube videos I've been watching of commercial blackcod fishing. The fish are being hauled up from those incredible pressures & they appear to be kicking & feisty with no signs of barotrauma ...I take it that they don't have swim bladders?
    Those things are incredibly feisty when being pulled from the depths! They are slippery suckers, so if you catch one, don't be slow about getting it in the boat. We pull halibut up from over 2,000' as well, and they're pretty darn lively also - but sablefish are twisting and spinning the whole way.

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