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Thread: Best way to hook halibut?

  1. #1

    Default Best way to hook halibut?

    Do you let them just nibble and hook themselves, free spool when they start biting, or slowly set the hook?

    The first time I went halibut fishing a few years ago, it was out of Seward. We were fishing pretty far out, and I was the first on the boat to get a bite. The fish took the bait and the reel started screaming, the captain muttered something about "nice fish, gotta be 150 lbs". Well, my adrenalin shot through the roof. Being a long time salmon fisherman, I reefed up on the rod for all I was worth, and of course pulled the hook right away from the fish. I thought he was gonna make me "walk the plank" Since I've learned to let them chew on it a bit, but I've seen quite a few fish nibble a while, steal the bait, and never hook themselves. So I'm of the (very ametuerish) opinion that it's best to let them bite for a few seconds then slowly raise the rod, but what do the "Experts" here think?

    Also, I noticed that when using octopus for bait, they aren't able to steal it off the hook. Is octupus as good as herring for producing big fish? We slammed them out of Homer using this, the whole boat limited out in no time at all, but we only caught fish up to about 30 lbs this way.

  2. #2
    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    Default

    I have only fished halibut with circle hooks and we let the fish pull until hooked. As the fish turns away the hook rotates to the corner of the mouth and hooks it's self. When the rod is doubled over reel in the fish.

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    Default Slow and steady

    I'm with Drifter, use circle hooks and let them hook themsleves. No need to "set the hook" like you do with other types of fishing. Slow and steady pressure and reeling have worked for me.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    With circle hooks, you just have to let them hook themselves. It's hard to unlearn setting the hook, but with circles you have to let them hook themselves and then reel up when they are hooked.

    Personally I prefer to fish with jigs, I get to set the hook, and don't have to worry about reeling up a 4# sinker to re-bait the hook.

    As far as bait, from what I've heard folks seem to be doing better with octopus than herring this year. The best bait is to catch a cod and fish it as live bait.

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    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    This is just my opinion, but on circle hooks, you do need to set the hook a little bit. The fish will put the hook in place, but if you just reel up, most of the time they will spit it, trust me, I watched my buddies lose numerous fish doing that this last week. You don't need a huge hookset but you do need one. The bigger fish you won't since they will inhale the whole thing.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Default for hook set

    just crank 2 revs on youre reel they will hook most times

  7. #7
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Circle hooks let them bite. The I drop the rod tip into the water and when I feel the halibut bite again I rise the rod tip and FISH ON....

    Jigging. most of the time they will it as the jig in on it's downward motion. Next left of the rod I feel I thub, I drive the J hook home.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Gray View Post
    Circle hooks let them bite. The I drop the rod tip into the water and when I feel the halibut bite again I rise the rod tip and FISH ON....

    Jigging. most of the time they will it as the jig in on it's downward motion. Next left of the rod I feel I thub, I drive the J hook home.
    I agree. And if you are circle hook fishing, it doesn't hurt to give them some line as soon as they start chewing as often the figure something "fishy" is up and try to make their escape. A little line and they often finish themselves off.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by pike_palace View Post
    This is just my opinion, but on circle hooks, you do need to set the hook a little bit. The fish will put the hook in place, but if you just reel up, most of the time they will spit it, trust me, I watched my buddies lose numerous fish doing that this last week. You don't need a huge hookset but you do need one. The bigger fish you won't since they will inhale the whole thing.
    You do not need to do this with really sharp hooks. Even new hooks must be sharpened. Otherwise, from your experience and some of my own, you are completely correct.

  10. #10
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    When I get a bite I will let them chew a little then start reeling fast, if I still feel them I set the hook twice just to make sure the hooks are set. But with the hooks I use (Owner super mutu 12/0 & 14/0) they are very sharp right out of the package and setting the hook after reeling is not needed but as habit goes it's hard to break and makes me feel better if I set it after I start reeling and has always produced fish on the deck for me.

  11. #11

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    Is fishing a live cod legal? I'm just asking.... kind of curious because I tried one for 15 or 20 mins last year when fishing out of Dutch Harbor (didn't get a bite). Got plenty of other bites though on just about anything they could fit into their mouth - jigging spoons, jigs tipped with Gulp squid, herring, and octopus. Caught quite a few on a 10oz/6-inch "Magic Metals" spoon. Though I caught the largest (69lb) on a chunk of octopus. Guy standing next to me caught a 98 and a 103, both on octopus.

    I went out twice in Dutch, 48 hours apart. During the day I didn't go out I went down to the docks to check the catch and this guy was doing a real hack-job trying to clean a 70lber with a dull filet knife. So I let him borrow my knife... asked him to cut open guts and there was a baby 16" octopus inside. (Yes, it was an octopus, not a squid). Anyway, I put it on ice and fished it (whole) the next day... Didn't get a bite and had it on my hook for a good 35 or 40 mins (while others on boat were hooking up left and right). Couldn't figure out why they weren't messing with my octopus at all.... Later that day I caught a 40lber on a chunk of octopus. He spit out a 14-15" octopus leg right before I got him to the surface.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    With circle hooks, you just have to let them hook themselves. It's hard to unlearn setting the hook, but with circles you have to let them hook themselves and then reel up when they are hooked.

    Personally I prefer to fish with jigs, I get to set the hook, and don't have to worry about reeling up a 4# sinker to re-bait the hook.

    As far as bait, from what I've heard folks seem to be doing better with octopus than herring this year. The best bait is to catch a cod and fish it as live bait.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by UplandHuntsman View Post
    Is fishing a live cod legal? I'm just asking.... kind of curious because I tried one for 15 or 20 mins last year when fishing out of Dutch Harbor (didn't get a bite). Got plenty of other bites though on just about anything they could fit into their mouth - jigging spoons, jigs tipped with Gulp squid, herring, and octopus. Caught quite a few on a 10oz/6-inch "Magic Metals" spoon. Though I caught the largest (69lb) on a chunk of octopus. Guy standing next to me caught a 98 and a 103, both on octopus.

    I went out twice in Dutch, 48 hours apart. During the day I didn't go out I went down to the docks to check the catch and this guy was doing a real hack-job trying to clean a 70lber with a dull filet knife. So I let him borrow my knife... asked him to cut open guts and there was a baby 16" octopus inside. (Yes, it was an octopus, not a squid). Anyway, I put it on ice and fished it (whole) the next day... Didn't get a bite and had it on my hook for a good 35 or 40 mins (while others on boat were hooking up left and right). Couldn't figure out why they weren't messing with my octopus at all.... Later that day I caught a 40lber on a chunk of octopus. He spit out a 14-15" octopus leg right before I got him to the surface.
    This is a tricky question. If I get a small fish hooked that doesn't seem like a butt I immediately drop the line right back to the bottom after a couple of turns toward the surface. Often times it is a small bait fish and the distress that the little guy is in will often lure a big butt over to investigate. I'm not sure how legal that is, but it beats the heck out of reeling all that line back up to re-bait and let the little guy off the proverbial hook and the literal one. And, most of the time it works pretty well. I am sure that it is illegal to put live fish on your hook to fish with, but live fish that volunteer to bite are entirely different matter in my book - especially if they never came to the surface. Fish and Game might view this a little differently though. I'm sure that others will chime in.

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    Default Live bait

    Actually, you are allowed to use live bait, just not in freshwater.

  14. #14
    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Default depends

    First thing is be a man and hold the pole. Guys and gals on my boat will rest the rod on the bow rails while they sit. I stand, even in the bad stuff. Then you can feel the nibble better. I let them nibble, crank down slowly and move your pole down while you crank-this keeps your bait in the same location. Then pull up every so slightly to feel if you have dead weight at the end. If the fish is still there lift up slowly and then crank down-FISH ON!. This past weekend in Homer I was the only one to catch my limit both days on my boat, my dad finally caught one on sunday, 6 total were fishing, first time we never caught our limit at least one day. The guys and gal were amazed at the fish I was catching. They said I had the "feel for it". No because I was holding my pole and could feel the bites. Usually they bite and hit hard, not the case so far this year. We caught losts of pacific cod and a couple irish lords. The biggest butt was around 60#, had 26# of fillets that were also skinless. You will figure it out. I seriously think we could have caught our limit atleast one day if people would have just listened to me, I am the Captain dang it.
    Last edited by akrstabout; 06-18-2008 at 23:11. Reason: tired, it showed in my wording.

  15. #15
    Member DMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akrstabout View Post
    Usually they bite and hit hard, not the case so far this year.
    You got that right! We were getting hit consistenly out of Deep Creek. Nibble nibble nibble nibble, never would just take it. Tried setting the hook and it wouldn't take. Started to think it was cod or something messing with us. Finally someone caught a Halibut. Got fed up with Herring and went to the jiggs. GAME ON! First Halibut came up with a huge stomach, when we cut it open it had 5 of our herring and some octi as well. Took an hour for the boat to limit once we went to jiggs.

    They are getting sneaky!
    ... aboard the 'Memory Maker' Making Memories one Wave at a Time!

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    Guys what kind of jigs are you talking about? Pics would be outstanding!

  17. #17
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    Default jigs

    I have never used circle hooks. I exclusively use "grouper jigs" as found in the Bass Pro Shop catalog. I use the largest they sell, add an uncle josh pork strip, and dip in herring oil. I drift in depths up to 400 ft. They catch everything that swim in Prince
    William Sound, including sharks. Probably the most fun are the cod fish schools-----they fight over it and you can`t get the jig to the bottom before they slam it. In the shallows of Cook inlet--it would probably be deadly.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dipnet View Post
    I have never used circle hooks. I exclusively use "grouper jigs" as found in the Bass Pro Shop catalog. I use the largest they sell, add an uncle josh pork strip, and dip in herring oil. I drift in depths up to 400 ft. They catch everything that swim in Prince
    William Sound, including sharks. Probably the most fun are the cod fish schools-----they fight over it and you can`t get the jig to the bottom before they slam it. In the shallows of Cook inlet--it would probably be deadly.
    As long as we're talking jigs now, what color is bet for halibut? I see a lot of white used, any other favorites? Also, how much are those blinking light deals, and do they really work? Anyone ever use a light/jig combo?

  19. #19
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    I've caught them on rootbeer color jigs and white jigs and caught a 90lb. in 100ft of water on a black jig tail. The blinking lights r $5 at b&j and they do work I've been the only person on the boat that landed the 2 fish in the day and 1 the next using the light on my rig in pws

  20. #20

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    From the regs....

    Use of sport-caught fish as bait: (1) Whitefish, herring, and other species for which no seasonal or harvest limits are specified in 5 AAC 47 - 5 AAC 75, as well as the head, tail, fins, and viscera of legally taken sport fish, may be used for bait or other purposes. (2) Herring and other species of fish for which no seasonal or harvest limits are specified in 5 AAC 47 - 5 AAC 75 may be used as live bait, except that live fish may not be used as bait for sport fishing in fresh water. (3) Live bait may be possessed, transported, or released only in the salt waters or the regulatory area in which it was taken.

    Most likely, if you're fishing for halibut and you get a small fish on, it's going to be a fish that has a daily limit (probably a rockfish). So according to the regs you can't leave it on hoping for another fish to bite it. The chances of the small fish being a herring or cod, for example, would probably be slim.

    For circle hooks, I don't think it makes a difference if you hold the rod in your hand or have it in the rod holder. Circle hooks are used by longliners because you don't need to see the hook to catch the fish. I'm guessing that more people lose fish by pulling too soon on the line than by letting the fish hook itself.

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