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Thread: Mushy Halibut Again

  1. #1

    Default Mushy Halibut Again

    Last year the Halibut all seemed to be pretty good, but this year the "Mushy" halibut seem to be back in abundance. The surf casters in the Kasilof / Kenai area are averaging about 1 out of every 4-5 fish landed. Just wondering how the off shore and charters are doing on this?

  2. #2

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    Haven't seen a one yet, even with fish up shallow. Quite a few we've turned loose were in that 10-20# range that were prone to mushy in years past.

    Year before last we could count on the shallow halibut being mushy clear up into July when they finally seemed to firm up. The neeldefish have showed up early this year (like they're supposed to), so that may have lots to do with it. Two years ago when the mush was so bad, we had virtually no needlefish until July, and not much then.

  3. #3
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    What's the best way to tell if it's mushy with out killing it? Do they feel different?

  4. #4

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    Coupla three things to look for.

    Look at the flesh right out at the edge near the base of the fins. It should be nicely rounded, even fat. If it's real thin and maybe wrinkled, it's mushy.

    Look at the white side. If it's tan or gray rather than white, maybe mushy, but I'd recheck the meat edge before saying yes for sure.

    Look for lots of those little white or almost transparent parasites stuck to the skin, especially up by the head. Lots of those along with either of the other symptoms, it's likely mushy. They're easier to see in the water, and if I see lots I won't even land a fish if either of the other symptoms are present.

  5. #5
    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    What BB said, as well, they won't have the fight in them that their healthy counterparts have. I have one yesterday that wasn't mushy, but the meat was a white chalky color. I have yet to pull a mushy one trolling, seems they just don't have the energy to chase the baits down. I haven't had one in a few years thankfully.
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  6. #6

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    We fished out by Flat Island on Sunday, 2 of 4 were white and mushy, all fish looked identical about 25 lbs.

  7. #7

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    We were two for eight. Both of the mushy ones were thin in the tail and had lots of "speckles" around the margins of the white side. The really dark green ones seemed to all be healthy and thick. I did notice a couple of needle fish, but the stomachs were largely empty. We did experience large schools of chickens coming to the surface Sunday.

  8. #8
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    thinking we are in for another one of "those" years in cook inlet. Lots of chalky ones comming in, some to the edible point, and many that are real mushy. seems that the inshore fish, are much healthier, heck, some even have shoulders! If you do get into an area where you are finding unhealthy fish, moving is the best advise iI can give, these fish are stressed already and dont need us sorting thru them to try and find the healthy ones.
    there are plenty of areas that you can go to stay out of them. Same as it has been in the past as far as I can tell, most of the younger fish are the ones that seem to have this condition, typicalyl under 20# fish. try targeting areas that typically hold larger fish to stay away from the chalky ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post

    Look at the white side. If it's tan or gray rather than white, maybe mushy, but I'd recheck the meat edge before saying yes for sure.
    Also worth mentioning, if its gray then suspect that its an Arrowtoth Flounder and it will be mushy. I would advise anyone who doesn't know this fish to look it up because there are a lot of them. I used to work on the docks counting fish. I encountered many anglers who caught a mixed bag of halibut and arrowtooth, called them the same fish, and considered themselves limited out. It was hard to be the bearer of bad news to those guys

    Also-- lets not confuse CHALKY meat with MUSHY meat. Chalky appearance results from a lactic acid release due to stress in the fish, either from being caught and handled or something stressful in the natural environment. It has no effect on the taste or texture of the meat.

    MUSHY halibut is a nutritional deficiency that affects inter connective muscle fibers.
    A halibut can be chalky AND mushy, but do not go by visual appearance alone.

    Hopefully this does not become widespread as it was a couple years ago.

  10. #10

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    So far all of the ones I have seen have been fine as far as mush. Some chalky fillets but that's inevitable sportfishing when they don't have anytime to get the lactic acid out of their system.

    What we have noticed is that some halibut seem to have really thin fillets. Every halibut has crab in it. A few have some sandlances or other baitfish.

    All our have been caught close to shore and all save one has been under 25 pounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardinal_84 View Post
    So far all of the ones I have seen have been fine as far as mush. Some chalky fillets but that's inevitable sportfishing when they don't have anytime to get the lactic acid out of their system.

    What we have noticed is that some halibut seem to have really thin fillets. Every halibut has crab in it. A few have some sandlances or other baitfish.

    All our have been caught close to shore and all save one has been under 25 pounds.
    I've definitely noticed that they fatten up as the season progresses along. Big difference in length to weight ratios for sure.

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    We caught a couple of mushy fish while fishing out of Deep Creek this weekend. Both were in the 10-20# range and in less than 100 feet of water.

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    Went out for a couple of hours to Day Harbor. Trying to fish halibut along the 300' line at slack tide. Couldn't get away from the arrow tooth. After pulling up 4 or 5 at 270' or so would move down the line a couple of miles and try again. I about wore myself out pulling in arrow tooth after arrow tooth. I would say we brought up a couple of dozen in 3 hours. After 3 hours or so gave up and went prospecting for some rockfish. Had a good time. Had to move after catching a couple of nice Lings and releasing. Didn't want to stress them if spawning. All in all a good day and Kris's Roust a Bout jigs worked well. Those jigs have a nice coating on them and looked no worse for wear after double digit flounder, rockfish and Lings. Come July 1 I will be back to see if they are still around. Ken

  14. #14

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    We had 2 chalky ones out of 36 out near Montague this weekend.


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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tolman24 View Post
    Went out for a couple of hours to Day Harbor. Trying to fish halibut along the 300' line at slack tide. Couldn't get away from the arrow tooth. After pulling up 4 or 5 at 270' or so would move down the line a couple of miles and try again. I about wore myself out pulling in arrow tooth after arrow tooth. I would say we brought up a couple of dozen in 3 hours. After 3 hours or so gave up and went prospecting for some rockfish. Had a good time. Had to move after catching a couple of nice Lings and releasing. Didn't want to stress them if spawning. All in all a good day and Kris's Roust a Bout jigs worked well. Those jigs have a nice coating on them and looked no worse for wear after double digit flounder, rockfish and Lings. Come July 1 I will be back to see if they are still around. Ken
    Around the area you were in try only bottom fishing when the tide is moving...the Arrowtooth don't feed well then. Also, start much more shallow and work your way deeper 25' at a time...you'll eventually find the Halibut.


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  16. #16
    Member Jack in Alaska's Avatar
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    No mushy or chalky halibut out of my boat so far this season.. Glad for that.

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=bigfish6025;1482597]

    Also-- lets not confuse CHALKY meat with MUSHY meat. Chalky appearance results from a lactic acid release due to stress in the fish, either from being caught and handled or something stressful in the natural environment. It has no effect on the taste or texture of the meat.

    MUSHY halibut is a nutritional deficiency that affects inter connective muscle fibers.
    A halibut can be chalky AND mushy, but do not go by visual appearance alone.

    I dont know if i can find them, but i brought in several fish to F&G during the last epidemic, after a complete neurocropsy (sp) the consencus was indeed stress, but the information i got was "from competition for food"
    thought this was interesting as in those "bad" years, there was an overabundance of pacific cod and dogfish, I will see if i can dig that up

  18. #18
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    here is a read that might explain the mushy fish. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ibut-Vs-Turbot

    Might not be Halibut at all. I figured this out the hard way........LOL

  19. #19

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    there is a big "turbot" fishery in Newfoundland (my home province), we used to catch them in gillnets, and we had to "bob tail" them, cut their tails off to bleed them, now fisherman that still commercial fish them have to have them HOG, price has skyrocketed since my teenage years, they are now over $1.00lb Cdn. Some people in my homedown used to salt them for winter, much like we used to do with cod. The Atlantic Cod is pretty much the same as the Pacific Grey Cod, much the same as Atlantic Halibut is the same as Pacific Halibut. We caught a 474Lb halibut one year when we were trawling for shrimp. Now that I live in Yukon, I look forward to my yearly charter trip in Seward!

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    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Thanks for this valuable info. I will try again this weekend weather permitting. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Quote Originally Posted by AK2AZ View Post
    Around the area you were in try only bottom fishing when the tide is moving...the Arrowtooth don't feed well then. Also, start much more shallow and work your way deeper 25' at a time...you'll eventually find the Halibut.

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