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Thread: Halibut Landing Techniques from a kayak

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    Default Halibut Landing Techniques from a kayak

    So I have been meaning to ask this in a post for sometime except that I hadn't tried one of the methods I wanted to discuss. My main goal here is to see if anyone else might have a better mouse trap and I guess to answer a few questions I have been getting lately about how I land the medium sized and up halibut.

    For small fish I now just Boca Grip them. Small being anything under 30 lbs or so. I used to net these fish until I had to surgically remove twisted weights and spreader bars from my net. I could use rubber or mesh less likely to tangle but I don't. They tend to be high end which means heavy. The thicker webbing acts like a sail and even with those, in saltwater, you net a fish, you pretty much killed that fish as the scale fly off.

    The main debate within the circle of kayak folks has been Shark hook or harpoon on a buoy.

    I use a harpoon. In over 40 years of fishing, I have never had the harpoon fail me...until I screwed up the huge butt on the Barbie rod. But that was operator error. There are problems with it. The harpoon head falls off as you deploy it being my main concern. People say rubber band it and such and I do...when I remember or if its my first fish of the day. Besides, if you do rubber band the rope in place, take it off before you hit the fish. Don't risk pulling the head back into the fish.



    The one on the left didn't have a brand, but notice the lip that helps the harpoon tip come off the shaft. Hard to see but the right one is the Danielson model. The edge (on the non-pointy end) looks almost beveled like its supposed to slip back into the fish. The one on the left, $25. Danielson $15. I saved 10 bucks and lost the fish of a lifetime. I will leave it at that.

    The other popular method is the Shark hook method. I have been meaning to try it but on two previous occasions I had deployed it but I had it hooked on a salmon gear. You need to manhandle the fish a bit with this method so I ended up netting those fish. Sunday I had my first opportunity to try the shark hook because 90 minutes of sleep over the weekend makes you an idiot. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had broken off a hatch handle so I had brought the hook with me so I Could pry the hatch open.

    So first you need to be much closer to the fish with a shark hook. That means that lead hurt like a &$#%$ &^$&^% when it hit me. Yah it happens with a harpoon, but its going to happen every time with a hook.

    Second, You can see the shark hook didn't penetrate very well. I hear the crowd yelling "Sharpen the hook." Yah, true. But that hook was doing a good number making gouges into my kayak which I was thankful that it wasn't my legs. Anyone read about the spear fisherman who died after a swordfish hit him? I dunno about giving a 100 pound halibut a dangerous weapon.. a Sharp metal "horn" if you will. It also came off once and I had it buried into the thickest part of the shoulder meat. I later sank it into its mouth but after dispatching it, it bummed me out how easy it was to pull out. Who has lost a fish that just came unbuttoned off the hook? We all have. A second hook ups the odds but it is nowhere near as certain as a "barb" that is 6 inches or more long (i.e. harpoon tip laying flat) versus the barb on the hook that is 1/4 inch max and more importantly went through the fish at that width unlike a harpoon which punches a hole the diameter of the harpoon tip shaft which is MUCH SMALLER than the overall length of the harpoon tip which acts like a barb.

    I know people who use flying gaffs like they do for tarpon that is basically a gaff that has a spring clip that keeps the fish from sliding past the barb once gaffed. Think a big carbine clip with a sharp point. Ok, that might work. I haven't tried that since the one I do want to try is $600 or more.

    But between the failed deployments due to the fact it takes a little more manhandling to position the fish and my experience Sunday, I can now definitively say the Harpoon is by FAR my preferred choice with a caveat.

    So here is the fish on Sunday. Its also a good lesson on why a PFD is mandatory. 999 times out of a thousand I am just saying "OWIE" when that lead hits me. the last time...its going to tag me and I am going to be in the water...hopefully with a PFD.

    https://youtu.be/ec9pgfL6Gjg

    As a comparative, here's a compilation of a few harpoon shots. I'll admit to some editing because I have screwed up with the harpoon. 90% of the time, it is the harpoon head falling off as I get ready to hit it. People solve that with rubber bands though I will caution that it is imperative that the rope is not held tight that you risk the harpoon head staying on the shaft as you withdraw the shaft.

    https://youtu.be/6ps9Q9id30M

    I will finish by saying that the shark hook method was pretty adrenalin loaded. I bet it is something remotely along the lines of shooting a moose or bear with a rifle or with a bow. Ok, not quite that much difference but going "mano a mano" even for the brief moment you are attached to the big fish directly was pretty cool.

    Ok, I lied. Now finally. I know folks who think its a good idea to use the big gaff that they use from a boat. Don't do it. Attached to a halibut and along the same lines as a shark hook protruding from a thrashing halibut, don't give the halibut a long club it can wield...because it will!!!!

    I'm brainstorming whether this system can be improved upon so any thoughts are welcome!!!

  2. #2
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    I know you don't like a gun on a kayak, and I understand why, but that is where a slug from a pistol really shines.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    I know you don't like a gun on a kayak, and I understand why, but that is where a slug from a pistol really shines.
    There is some truth to that. In the harpoon shot compilation, the second fish, I hit it in the spine and the harpoon head just bounces out. But the halibut stiffens up like a board and barely even twitches after that. If I could hit it every time like that I would. The only reason i don't carry a gun other than the obvious safety aspect of it is that on a kayak, I can take quite bit of time dispatching each fish. Where on a boat, I can see wanting to get that halibut in the boat and fishing again ASAP since you may need 11 other halibut on that one slack tide.

    Definitely something to think about!

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    Rudy, wrap a piece of bungee cord on the shaft of the harpoon just above the metal part where the detachable point goes. take your rope that's tied to the harpoon point cable and fold it over once and shove thru the bungee, That keeps the rope and cable tight and the head slides right off when you hit the hali. Also, I hit the big ones thru the belly, goes right thru and secures them well. This is from fishing 30 years from a zodiac. I am just finishing up some add ons to a Mokai I just got and will see you out in the salt soon...ulff

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ulflyfish View Post
    Rudy, wrap a piece of bungee cord on the shaft of the harpoon just above the metal part where the detachable point goes. take your rope that's tied to the harpoon point cable and fold it over once and shove thru the bungee, That keeps the rope and cable tight and the head slides right off when you hit the hali. Also, I hit the big ones thru the belly, goes right thru and secures them well. This is from fishing 30 years from a zodiac. I am just finishing up some add ons to a Mokai I just got and will see you out in the salt soon...ulff
    I am glad to hear your experience throygh the belly is good. I have avoided it since it seems so soft. My last halibut with a hook. just to be safe, I pushed the harpoon point with my fingers through the belly and was amazed how ieasy it was. But I have seen them hold there as well.

    Thanks for the tip!

    Mokai, eh! Awesome! See ya on the water!!!!!!

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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    I too was taught by an old timer some 30+ years to always harpoon a butt through the stomach. In the years since I have NEVER had a harpoon head Pull through ever. And what you were thinking is correct. Much easier to punch a hole through the belly than through the meat.

  7. #7

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    Several weeks ago I hooked a large halibut while trolling for salmon (60#). Having no harpoon with me and really wanting the fish, I decided to use my large landing net. I do not recommend this landing technique! When I finally got the fish into the net all hell broke loose nearly pulling me off the yak. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor I released the net. Luckily, the second hook secured the net and kept the fish in it. I finally won the battle with dozens of knife thrusts. Lesson learned: DO NOT USE A LANDING NET!



    After thinking it through, I'm not sure if I will ever take on a large halibut while fishing from a kayak. Aside from the ego boost of landing a large fish, it probably does not make sense to subject ones self to the safety risk. I'm sure two 30 pound halibut taste just as good. Also, if we keep targeting the largest fish we are putting what we all love in peril--the resource.

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    The belly is a sure bet, tough skin and an ample target.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by tom1tom View Post
    Several weeks ago I hooked a large halibut while trolling for salmon (60#). Having no harpoon with me and really wanting the fish, I decided to use my large landing net. I do not recommend this landing technique! When I finally got the fish into the net all hell broke loose nearly pulling me off the yak. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor I released the net. Luckily, the second hook secured the net and kept the fish in it. I finally won the battle with dozens of knife thrusts. Lesson learned: DO NOT USE A LANDING NET!



    After thinking it through, I'm not sure if I will ever take on a large halibut while fishing from a kayak. Aside from the ego boost of landing a large fish, it probably does not make sense to subject ones self to the safety risk. I'm sure two 30 pound halibut taste just as good. Also, if we keep targeting the largest fish we are putting what we all love in peril--the resource.
    I'd agree to an extent. I have netted fish to 40 pounds and it is exactly as described. It is also why I don't gaff halibut out of a kayak or use a shark hook on a buoy like other folks do. In essence by using any of those methods, you are either arming the halibut with a club and it WILL use it against you. The shark hook is worse, you just gave a thrashing halibut a sharp barbed horn it can use on you or the kayak.

    Large halibut have been no issue to land to 105 pounds for me off a kayak using the harpoon and buoy method. Once on the buoy, I try and slash the gills holding the buoy rope and let it bleed out in the water, on the buoy, BUT NOT attached to the kayak or me in anyway. After 5 minutes of bleeding, they rarely move at all and when they do, its not a very powerful movement.

    I have 100% confidence I can deploy a harpoon and buoy on any sized halibut and land it safely from a kayak. I highly recommend that method.

    As far as retaining large fish, I agree that large breeders are important to the resource. The 30 to 40 pounders with a two fish per day limit is sufficient. Having said that, I have fished halibut since 1971 in Alaska as a kid. Total number of fish I killed over 100 pounds. One. I have no problems with a fisherman retaining a large halibut. We all should do what we can to conserve the stocks. But if you are concerned about the sportfisherman catching too many of the larger halibut to the point a regulation might be required, your time is better spent lobbying for release of the larger halibut by the commercial fleet.

    I'm not trying to suggest conservation isn't an issue. But if you had passed a law that limited my take of halibut over 100 pounds for example, you would have saved one fish from me over 40 years. However, if I was a commercial fisherman, that same rule would have saved hundreds if not thousands of 100 pound fish from one individual fisherman. Hmm...I'm not sure I am getting my point across.

    Is a 30 pound halibut better eating than a 100 pounder? I think most people would say yes. Was the frozen halibut from my 105 pounder I had a few weeks ago delicious? Yes it was!

    Having said that I am in discussion with a few folks on how to safely measure a large halibut so it can be released from a kayak. That is going to take some thinking I think. I'm all ears though. I fish enough that I can fill my freezers with 15 to 20 pounders and be fine. Having said that, there are plenty of days I am only getting a single fish. Should I feel guilty about keeping a 60 pounder which is almost inevitably a female fish? It makes sense from the perspective of deer hunters and crab fisherman often bound by rules based on sex.

    It's a good discussion. I'd love to have a rational non-emotional arguments based on science. . Its just hard to compare what I think as a person who hits the water for halibut 20 times per year or those who only get one crack at it due to finances, scheduling, or just simply other priorities.

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    Member carolinaboy's Avatar
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    So, Rudy, is your Boca Grip the Boca name brand or another brand? have been looking at way too many and getting reviews of the knockoffs and the plastic "Vise-Grips" not holding up well on lively fish over 20#. Bent jaws, snapping off parts, jamming with sand, etc.

    The Bocas are the spendiest but reputed to be the best as well.

    I would like to buy one set, once, until I lose them.

    What think ye?

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by carolinaboy View Post
    So, Rudy, is your Boca Grip the Boca name brand or another brand? have been looking at way too many and getting reviews of the knockoffs and the plastic "Vise-Grips" not holding up well on lively fish over 20#. Bent jaws, snapping off parts, jamming with sand, etc.

    The Bocas are the spendiest but reputed to be the best as well.

    I would like to buy one set, once, until I lose them.

    What think ye?

    Steve
    Mine are the genuine 60lbs rated Boca Grips. I buy a lot of fancy and often useless gear. These boca grips have paid for themselves over and over again. I'm not saying the others won't work because I really don't know. But on a kayak, everything gets wet all the time and I do NOT take care of my gear very well. No rust, still works. Love them.

    I've also found from a kayak they make awesome hook removers for salmon if they haven't swallowed the hook. See video screen grab below.

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    Member carolinaboy's Avatar
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    Thanks, man, looks like a trip to Cabela's ( 5 miles from my door ) may be in order before my trip to AK in a week.

    I once shark hooked a 150# halibut ...the 5 foot rope end was tied to the stern boat cleat...the hook end went into its lower jaw.

    The halibut went NUTS! It was churning water from past the stern to midships and about 5 vertical feet of spray. Like some giant pyscho blender gone haywire. The full sized aluminum bat only made it madder.

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    Member carolinaboy's Avatar
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    Guess I shoulda done my homework....Boga with a "G" ...not boca with a "C" . Dang, they're spendy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carolinaboy View Post
    Guess I shoulda done my homework....Boga with a "G" ...not boca with a "C" . Dang, they're spendy.

    I love my BoGa Grips but you may want try these. I have read good reviews on them on our kayak site.
    http://www.lucidfishing.com/

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    Member sisusuomi's Avatar
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    I had someone give me one. I believe it only weighs a fish up to 30 pounds. I tried it out this summer on a halibut in the boat (not kayak but the "big boat"). The halibut shook itself off the thing almost immediately so I figured it was only good for weighing in fish, or the guy gave it to me because there is a problem with the gripper.

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    How big of a bouy do I need? I bought a harpoon @ B&J's, w/ 20' of floating line. Can I use a boat fender/bumper like this:
    I think it's about 6"x24"

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndySinAK View Post
    How big of a bouy do I need? I bought a harpoon @ B&J's, w/ 20' of floating line. Can I use a boat fender/bumper like this:
    I think it's about 6"x24"
    I'm not sure what the flotation pounds is of that. A0 buoy is a tad small but works. A1 is probably ideal. A2 buoy caused huge gashes in a 65 pound fish when it took the buoy down for 30 to 40 seconds so too much flotation. Here's a chart of the flotation: http://blueoceantackle.com/commercia...form-a-series/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardinal_84 View Post
    I'm not sure what the flotation pounds is of that. A0 buoy is a tad small but works. A1 is probably ideal. A2 buoy caused huge gashes in a 65 pound fish when it took the buoy down for 30 to 40 seconds so too much flotation. Here's a chart of the flotation: http://blueoceantackle.com/commercia...form-a-series/
    So it looks like the AO is 13lbs floatation, A1 = 29lbs. My fender is rated 18lbs. So, I'm in the range anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndySinAK View Post
    So it looks like the AO is 13lbs floatation, A1 = 29lbs. My fender is rated 18lbs. So, I'm in the range anyway.
    Should be okay then. Keep in mind, unless something bad happens, in theory, you should still be attached to the halibut via your line. 18lbs should work fine. You will likely be fighting the fish off a kayak with a whole lot less than 18lbs of drag and of course the drag adds to the resistance once its on the buoy so you should be ok.

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    I use a G3 Polyform boat fender, which is good for about 12 lbs of flotation. Tie a short line to both ends of the fender, then tie your longer main line to the center of the short line so the fish will have to pull the fender sideways. This arrangement creates a lot more drag, which is what really slows the fish down. You won't need 20' of floating line, less is more. I use about 12', and keep as much as I can wrapped around the fender to keep the deck of my kayak organized.

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