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Thread: Dutch Harbor Halibut Trip Report

  1. #1

    Default Dutch Harbor Halibut Trip Report

    Well, I finally went on my first halibut trip yesterday. The action was great but the size of the fish wasn't so great. Myself and the four others on the boat caught around 35 halibut. The largest was 26 pounds. (Yes, we all only kept two fish). One guy caught a dozen before he finally kept one... of course hoping a "barn door" would hit any minute.

    After I had my limit, I jigged for Pacific Ocean perch and caught four of them. I also caught several arrowtooth flounder and one 10 or 11lb cod.

    My battery is about to die.... Have to go. I'm going out again tomorrow and hopefully will have some big fish to talk about tomorrow evening. Tom

  2. #2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UplandHuntsman View Post
    Well, I finally went on my first halibut trip yesterday. The action was great but the size of the fish wasn't so great. Myself and the four others on the boat caught around 35 halibut. The largest was 26 pounds. (Yes, we all only kept two fish). One guy caught a dozen before he finally kept one... of course hoping a "barn door" would hit any minute.

    After I had my limit, I jigged for Pacific Ocean perch and caught four of them. I also caught several arrowtooth flounder and one 10 or 11lb cod.

    My battery is about to die.... Have to go. I'm going out again tomorrow and hopefully will have some big fish to talk about tomorrow evening. Tom
    thx for the report - look forward to tomorrow; boy, that's not much fish compared to what I read about that place.

  3. #3

    Default

    I happened to notice them come in early today when I drove by the docks. So I turned around to see how they did... They had a 52 and an 83-pounder. I asked the guy who caught the "big" one if I could slit its gut open to see what it had been eating.... He said "sure" so I cut into it. It had about a 16-inch baby octopus. That's going to be my first bait in the morning. Rest of the time I'll be doing what I did Monday... Jigging with either a halibut jig or a 7oz spoon (always tipped with a Gulp squid).

    I'll let you know how I did. Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by stevesch View Post
    thx for the report - look forward to tomorrow; boy, that's not much fish compared to what I read about that place.

  4. #4
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Cool Tell me it's not true

    You're at Dutch and that's as big as you are getting? I always dreamed of going to Dutch Harbor and letting 100#ers go so I could get a big one!

    Tell us that bad weather is keeping you in the Harbor. Or really bad weather has you fishing out of your hotel room window. Tell us anything, but don't tell us the fish are so.....so.....so average.
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  5. #5

    Default Dutch Trip #2

    That's correct, we weren't able to go very far out on Sunday. Tuesday we went way out into the Bering. Only people fishing were me and the same father/daughter pair that fished with me on Sunday. I caught five halibut. The two I kept weighed 40 and 69 pounds. I also caught five black sea bass. The father/daughter caught 8 or 9 and the four they kept weightedd 18, 45, 98, and 103. They caught all theirs on octopus. I caught my smaller one on a fake 8oz squid tipped with two saltwater Gulp squid and I caught my largest on octopus.

    I forgot to tell you all that on Sunday's trip a guy caught what might've very well been a record cod. It was in the 44-45 inch range.... absolutely massive. I read the record is only 32 and change. That guy's cod looked every bit of that plus some (I have a pic). But he didn't want to mess with racing into shore to get to a certified scale. If I had caught it, I would've had the captain call someone to come pick me up so the others could keep fishing (we were no more than 20 minutes from port).

    My captain was Dave Magone and he really knows his stuff. And he's very honest. I know that on many days he could get the whole boat into a limit within two hours of leaving port and be headed back to the dock... But he goes after the big ones first (when the weather allows) and he doesn't get mad when someone catches and releases "all day" waiting on a big fish to show up... As I think I've already mentioned, on Sunday a guy caught 12 or 13 halibut before he finally kept one. Dave is one heck of a guide and I highly recommend him.

    I was in Whittier yesterday... caught a nice 29.5" silver that weighed 10.5 pounds. Lost another one that was probably 5 or 6 pounds. But I fished hard for four or five hours... They aren't really in yet.

    I'm in Sterling right now headed to Homer... I may take another halibut trip out of there, not sure. Right now I'm dead tired.... got no sleep last night. Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by bullbuster View Post
    You're at Dutch and that's as big as you are getting? I always dreamed of going to Dutch Harbor and letting 100#ers go so I could get a big one!

    Tell us that bad weather is keeping you in the Harbor. Or really bad weather has you fishing out of your hotel room window. Tell us anything, but don't tell us the fish are so.....so.....so average.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UplandHuntsman View Post

    I forgot to tell you all that on Sunday's trip a guy caught what might've very well been a record cod. It was in the 44-45 inch range.... absolutely massive. I read the record is only 32 and change. That guy's cod looked every bit of that plus some (I have a pic). But he didn't want to mess with racing into shore to get to a certified scale. If I had caught it, I would've had the captain call someone to come pick me up so the others could keep fishing (we were no more than 20 minutes from port).

    Tom
    Not sure what type fish you are actually referring to...Pacific cod grow to 50, 60, even 70 inches. http://access.afsc.noaa.gov/reem/LHW...earchFrame.cfm
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  7. #7

    Default Lingcod?

    The World Record is 82.6 lbs. and 55" long.

  8. #8

    Default Pacific Cod?

    The World record is 32 lbs.

  9. #9

    Default ahhh...

    Lots of difference between how big a fish gets and a sport caught world record! Maybe he should have weighed it in. I would bet, considering how big they grow, and that they are not really a targeted sport fish, that a lot of fish bigger than 32# have been caught on rod and reel incidentally.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  10. #10

    Default maybe

    Maybe with those halibut sizes, Dutch can re-market itself as the Pacific cod world record holder and attract some new clientele?
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  11. #11

    Default Halibut

    Nickster,

    Dutch is still your best chance for a triple digit fish from everything I've heard and read. Keep in mind that on Tuesday there were only three of us on the boat. I don't think 69, 98, and 103 (top three fish) out of a group of three is too shabby. A boat fishing within site of us (operated by the captain's partner basically, Tammy) landed a 107. Her boat was the only "competition" we had all day and she wasn't really competition; she was an ally. About five minutes before Dave cut the motor, she told him exactly where we needed to fish. Within 15 minutes of starting our drift, the other guy was wrestling that 103.

    I drove to Homer yesterday. To each his own, but Homer is way too commercialized for me. I thought about booking a halibut trip out of Homer but decided against it because I didn't want to get on a packed boat and anchor or drift within site of who knows how many other boats. Dutch is out in the middle of nowhere and there is basically no sportfishing competition... only competition for halibut comes from longliners and trawlers. I love the isolation, lack of competition, and the fact Dutch really is a rugged fishing port.... thousands of guys working their butts off (in the boats and at the huge processing plants). If at all possible, I will be fishing Dutch again next year and hopefully many years after that as well. I even like the fact the small boat dock is often completely deserted... We could've hung up the world record halibut and it might've taken two hours before anyone on shore noticed it.

    The other guy is right... the Pacific cod record is 32lbs and it was caught off Unalaska (aka Dutch) in 1997. I think the guy on my Sunday trip had the record. I've seen plenty of big saltwater fish caught and the Pacific cod is very close to the dimensions of the hundreds of bull reds (aka red drum, redfish) I've seen and hooked. But the size of the cod wasn't a big deal to the guy who caught it because he's the lead cook on a trawler. He sees big cod all the time. But coming up in nets as compared to one at a time on rod 'n reel isn't exactly the same thing.

    I don't know if the other guy was talking about lingcod or what, but I doubt any Pacific cod (sport or commercial) has ever gone over 60 inches. Captain Dave said they never catch lingcod. They catch some massive yelloweye off Dutch though.

    Quote Originally Posted by nickster View Post
    Maybe with those halibut sizes, Dutch can re-market itself as the Pacific cod world record holder and attract some new clientele?

  12. #12

    Smile

    Huntsman, that was mostly a joke about Dutch...I have heard that it isn't what it used to be (but what is?), but it may very well be still your best shot at a 100+ pound fish if that is what your after. And I, too, like everything else about the locale and limited pressure.

    I also agree about Homer being a zoo, as is Seward in summer. One trip I've always (ok, for the 6 years I've lived here) wanted to do, is the multi-day trip out of Seward with Andy of Crackerjack charters. They hit areas almost never fished by the charter fleet and where, from what he says, it can be non-stop catching - lings, halibut, rockfish, and plenty of size. Then king salmon if it's early in the season, or silvers if later. And not another boat in sight.

    And I agree you guys had a real nice catch of fish, definitely above average size! Regarding the P. cod, the link I posted, shows the max length recorded for Pacific cod from different areas. Scroll down the species list on the left to "Gadus macrocephalus;" click there and it takes you to another page with a link to "Maximum Length". You'll see the largest cod recorded for different areas range from 134 to 195 cm (or up to 76").

    I worked in Dutch for a few months and seriously considered a halibut charter ...the timing never worked but I did catch a couple of 12" dollies out of the creek that runs right through the town.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  13. #13
    Member AKdutch's Avatar
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    Default Dutch Harbor

    Congrats on the fish. Your right about Dutch and described it very well. I lived and worked in Unalaska for 16 years and the only reason I left was for family reasons and a new job. The halibut fishing has gone downhill since about 2002, but my friend Mike told me they had caught a few 100# fish in the bay this year. That is very good news. If you plan on being in Dutch in early Sept you should try fishing the two rivers in Unalaska Bay. You will not find a river with as much solitude and great fishing. I included a photo of my biggest fish the summer I left in 2005 (260lb). BTW, shark fishing is awesome as well. In 2005 me and my buddy caught and released 23 sharks. The biggest one dwarfed the 500lb one we kept.
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  14. #14

    Default Dutch

    Dutch,

    The halibut fishing is excellent as far as numbers go. Fewer triple digit fish is the only "problem." The halibut off Dutch were super thick in at least 2/3 of the areas we fished... So much so that I think the limit needs to be raised to at least three. Maybe the same two-fish limit where any size is legal plus a third fish that must be under 40 inches (so no one comes home with three massive breeders).

    The early September fishing you're talking about is for silvers, correct? A local said last year's silver run was pretty disappointing. I tried fishing the mouth of the river that runs right through Unalaska in the hopes I could catch an early arriving silver or two. But I caught nothing but the occasional snagged humpy (they were unbelievably thick). I then tried one of the bays (can't remember the name) and only caught two Irish Lords. Those are some super ugly fish... pain to get off the hook too.

    Do you know anyone who guides out of Dutch besides Dave and Tammy? If I'm lucky enough to go again next summer, I want at least one of my trips to consist of two things: 1) fish hard for halibut until noon and be content with whatever size we get, 2) stop culling halibut and load the boat down with other good eating fish (that don't have such a small bag limit): Pacific Ocean perch, yelloweye, black sea bass, cod, etc. I sure wish arrowtooth flounder were good eating... we caught several of them during the first trip out.

    Thanks for your reply. 16 years in Dutch is very impressive. I could do 16 summers but 16 winters would be tough to say the least. Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by AKdutch View Post
    Congrats on the fish. Your right about Dutch and described it very well. I lived and worked in Unalaska for 16 years and the only reason I left was for family reasons and a new job. The halibut fishing has gone downhill since about 2002, but my friend Mike told me they had caught a few 100# fish in the bay this year. That is very good news. If you plan on being in Dutch in early Sept you should try fishing the two rivers in Unalaska Bay. You will not find a river with as much solitude and great fishing. I included a photo of my biggest fish the summer I left in 2005 (260lb). BTW, shark fishing is awesome as well. In 2005 me and my buddy caught and released 23 sharks. The biggest one dwarfed the 500lb one we kept.

  15. #15
    Member AKdutch's Avatar
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    Default Dutch Harbor fishing

    I sure do miss the great fishing, that's for sure. I didn't actually spend the whoel 16 years on the island. The first five I was commercial fishing and commuted from Portland, Ore. But the last 10 I was a resident and raised kids there. If you were fishing with Dave Magone I don't think you could have done any better. Dave has a pretty slow boat, but his knowledge of the area is unmatched and he does catch big fish. The Peterson's are great people as well. Kirk is a good friend of mine. As far as fishing for silvers, the run peaks about sept 10th. Don't usually catch much before then. I have caught some really big fish in Iliuliuk creek, but the Nateekin is the best for sure. You have to have a boat to get there though. If you ask around the docks it is usually pretty easy to get someone to take you there.

    I don't know if Greg Hawthorne is still running Volcano Bay Adventures, but if so he is great to go with. He has a fish camp on the west side of the island and does halibut, weather permitting, and silvers. Just about the best fly fishing there is for silvers. If you want a real treat with non-stop action, try fishing for black bass with light tackle. They are a blast and the action never stops when you find them. I have caught over 10lbers on 4lb test. I also caught a 60lb halibut on 6lb test with light tackle while fishing for black bass. Had to follow it with the boat and took 45 minutes to boat. That was fun. John

    PM me if you have any more questions. I could probably hook you up with a couple buddys with boats if you go back.
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  16. #16

    Default

    Wow, that's by far the best picture of Unalaska I've ever seen!

    Because of what you're saying about the silver run, I'm going to try to book next year's trip for the second week in September. Though it may be really hard to find a halibut guide by then. Dave said his last guided trip this year is Sept. 8 and next year he plans on fishing only through mid-August (I think he said something about needing to go back to the mainland to help his mom run a B&B or something like that). I don't know if Tammy fishes into Sept or not.

    I caught four or five black sea bass on the second trip (when we went a lot further out). My biggest was only 3.5 pounds or so. I coulda loaded the boat with 'em if I had spent even just an hour vertically jigging exclusively for them. But too many monster halibut around to focus on the bass for too long. But next year I may take two halibut-only trips (culling all "little" sub-40lb fish) and then take a third trip where I take whatever size halibut I get out of my first four or five fish and then focus all the other hours on whatever other good-eating fish are running... sea bass, Pacific Ocean perch, cod, pollock, or whatever. A party of four or five could really bring back quite a haul of fish if everyone agreed to that same game plan.

    Thanks very much for all the info. I'll definitely be reviewing it when making next year's plans. Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by AKdutch View Post
    I sure do miss the great fishing, that's for sure. I didn't actually spend the whoel 16 years on the island. The first five I was commercial fishing and commuted from Portland, Ore. But the last 10 I was a resident and raised kids there. If you were fishing with Dave Magone I don't think you could have done any better. Dave has a pretty slow boat, but his knowledge of the area is unmatched and he does catch big fish. The Peterson's are great people as well. Kirk is a good friend of mine. As far as fishing for silvers, the run peaks about sept 10th. Don't usually catch much before then. I have caught some really big fish in Iliuliuk creek, but the Nateekin is the best for sure. You have to have a boat to get there though. If you ask around the docks it is usually pretty easy to get someone to take you there.

    I don't know if Greg Hawthorne is still running Volcano Bay Adventures, but if so he is great to go with. He has a fish camp on the west side of the island and does halibut, weather permitting, and silvers. Just about the best fly fishing there is for silvers. If you want a real treat with non-stop action, try fishing for black bass with light tackle. They are a blast and the action never stops when you find them. I have caught over 10lbers on 4lb test. I also caught a 60lb halibut on 6lb test with light tackle while fishing for black bass. Had to follow it with the boat and took 45 minutes to boat. That was fun. John

    PM me if you have any more questions. I could probably hook you up with a couple buddys with boats if you go back.

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