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Thread: new to halibut

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    Default new to halibut

    Hey all,
    This is my first post. I've got an Alaskan Halibut/Salmon trip scheduled for this August in SE Alaska. I'll be in Thorne Bay. I've got a couple questions. I'm NOT looking for barn door halibut just any edible size halibut that can be caught out of the bay on the skiffs provided by most of the lodges. Whats the best technique for these critters. I've just recently gone to Bass Pro and the 14/0 hooks that most recommend look HUGE! Is that really what I'll be using. I'd like to get some of the necessities for fishing ahead of time to avoid spending a fortune when I get there? I've got some soft jigs (6" scampii type jigs as well as some saltwater powerbait 8" inchers with some 10 and 16 oz jigheads as well as some Crippled Herring irons) but was hoping for some more pointers. Of course we will have herring and salmon heads when we get there but WOW these hooks look big. Can you give me an idea of hook size, weight size and general "just catch some fish techniques" to help out. I'll be there end of August early September time frame! Thanks in advance!

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    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    If your staying at a lodge talk to them they will give you the best advice.
    If you are bringing a rod up I would make sure it's a stiff rod. 50-100# is good. Length of the rod is up to you.
    If you are not familiar with the are I would get a map and look over it. Shale, gravel. kelp areas, preclinical, depression. look for these. A good way way to find areas is drift. Once you find an area that you continue to get bites go ahead and anchor if you want or keep re drifting over that area.
    Another if you can find a salmon stream from the ocean I like to fish off of them. Halibut will tend to hang out on a self where the dead salmon will wash down to them..
    The lure you got will also work for Silver and other fish.
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  3. #3

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    LOL! I'm not laughing AT you j-rod, I'm laughing WITH you. The hooks are ungodly big, aren't they!? I use 16/0 circles and that's not an unusual size to be using.

    I know you're going to get a bunch of different methods for butt and what I do is what I do only because it works for me, so I hope no one "takes me to task" that my methods suck and there's is better.

    I "tie" my own rigs, but anywhere you go in Alaska where there's halibut fishing to be done you can buy halibut rigs. If I were you I'd wait until you get here and just go into a fishing shop in the area you're going to be fishing in and ask them to set you up with what you need. Or email someone at the place you're staying and ask them as Alaska Gray says.

    I typically use a rig that has a leader with a BIG barrel swivel at the top, a small off-shoot piece of 400 lb. test leader with a "pigtail" on it that I can attach my weight to, and then about a 2 ft. length of 400 lb. test leader attached to a 16/0 circle hook. It's a popular rig around here and I just took a look at one and emulated it.

    I put "bling" on some of them, usually some sort of "squid" imitator, and I find that helps some of the time, but there's nothing wrong with using just bait. Then you just put a nice chunk of "bull" herring on the hook, or some squid (one of my favorites), or octopus (squid and octopus tend to stay on your hook a bit better than the herring) or some salmon heads or carcass parts and that's it.

    As for weights, that will depend on when and where you're fishing. If you're in an area where the tides aren't that big from low to high and the tide isn't running that hard you can use a lighter amount of weight. If the tide is really running you'll need a bigger weight. In some places at times you might need to have as big as a 3 lb. ball on there. But once again that's a very localized thing. So your best bet would be to ask a person in the particular area you're going to be fishing in for advice. I fish in an area (Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet) where the tides can run VERY fast with a tidal swing of as much as 26 ft. or so from low to high, so sometimes it can get very tricky.

  4. #4

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    I'm not sure if there are any good places in thorne bay to buy tackle, so it's good that you are getting prepared now. Log Cabin in Craig has lots of stuff, but it's an hour drive to get to Craig.

    The best bait you are going to have is your salmon guts from the coho you catch. The gills work ok too. If you aren't into eating the bellies, use them too. A berkley power grub, with a 12oz jighead, tipped with a salmon belly, has accounted for many many big hali for me. I catch better with the tail off the grub for some reason.

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    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    Leadhead jigs are a great thing. You'll catch lots of fish with them. If you use bait, use a whole herring with a circle hook. Put the hook in his mouth and have it come out the top of the head. I use 12-14" herring and have no problem hooking little halibut on them, so no it is not too big for what your trying to accomplish. Figure out your tides. Be ready to fish as the tide comes in as thats generally when the fish should be biting good.

    Good luck.
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    Default Those crippled herring lures...

    are great too, and I would suggest that if, for instance, two of you are in the boat, that one drop bait and the other cast crippled herring...anything from the 2oz to the 5oz+ works, halibut do like them and they work well on a drift, casting and slow bumping retrieve, or vertical jigging. You''l find that if you let them sit awile, and then move in slow jerks about 10 feet, sit again, etc it can be dynamite. Drifting it is better to cast "downhill" IMO, then work the jig in (this all applies to leadhead jigs as well as the crippled herring) as you drift towards it, rather that just dragging it along with the drift...

    But, your bread and butter will be the conventional halibut rig with a setup like Muttley Crew and others have suggested, and tackle stores in Ketchikan should be able to set you up before you fly or ferry to Thorne Bay...if you use a salmon head for bait, cut it in half vertically, the flatfish seem to really go for this! Don't worry about the big goofy circle hooks, they are your best friend!

    Oh...using lures, strike back when a fish hits them, but with circle hooks and bait, just let the line come taunt and then reel, these hooks set themselves and you can make them miss if you jerk just when you get hit!

    Tight lines, have a great time!

  7. #7

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    Cap'n Ron brought up a good point that is worth reiterating. I like to try something different on each line, like one with herring, one with squid and maybe one with a jig of some sort and see which they like the most. When you find one that is producing more than the others just switch everyone to that same bait. I've found that halibut at times can be picky about what they want to bite on at any particular time.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    The tackle has been pretty well sorted out, personally I prefer a lighter jigging rod to a broomstick with a heavy sinker and bait, but the scent of the bait helps, so it's good to use both rigs. I'd say go with Owner hooks, they are incredibly sharp and worth the extra $. Don't bury the point of the hook, it needs to be exposed to catch the fish. And as mentioned, circle hooks are self setting. Many a halibut fisherman has put on the gorilla hook set only to pull the hook out of the fish's mouth. You'll feel a tug tug tug as they nibble the bait, then firm tension as they swim off with it.

    What hasn't been mentioned is where to look for the fish, as the tackle and technique is easy, the location is the key. Do the skiffs have depth finders, or come with charts? I'd highly recomend getting a chart of the waters and figuring out the underwater terrain before heading up. Halibut like to lay on shelfs on the edge of dropoffs so the tide brings the baitfish to them. You can either anchor up in those areas, or drift over them. It's also good to fish pinnacles, halibut won't always hold on pinnacles, but they'll be rock fish and ling cod. You'd be suprised that the smaller rockfish can get those large circle hooks in their mouths, but they do, and lings will take just about anything.

    It's best not to net halibut, gaff them, bonk them, cut a gil and after they've bled and aren't moving, bring them aboard. A co-worker was straddling a 50 pounder he caught on my boat last year, and before he could bonk it with the bat, well you can imagine where that tail wacked him

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    It's best not to net halibut, gaff them, bonk them, cut a gil and after they've bled and aren't moving, bring them aboard. A co-worker was straddling a 50 pounder he caught on my boat last year, and before he could bonk it with the bat, well you can imagine where that tail wacked him
    Amen to that. Halibut any bigger than about 50 lbs. can do some serious damage. The first halibut I ever caught in my life was about 70 lbs. and my wife and I pulled it into our 12 ft. inflatable with us. Not a good idea. We lived through it though.

    They have been known to do some damage to boats and people if they aren't subdued before you bring them in. Typically around here anything of any size is shot in the head with a "snake charmer" or a .38 or something along those lines. If you expect to get into anything big a gun can be very useful. Or a halibut harpoon and some rope.

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    Default When I was in the Coast Guard

    We had to pull an illegal halibut long line at Pelican Shoals.

    One of the fish was easy 300 lbs.

    We put 3 .45 slugs through its head, craned it up on the deck.
    It flopped it's tail under the 10 man inflatable liferaft (the ones in the hard plastic shells that pop open when inflated, weighs around 200 pounds) flipped it up after breaking the 1/16" stainless steel cable holding it down. THe raft was flipped a good 3 1/2 4 feet in the air (we were afraid it was going to pop over the rail)

    Needless to say, we gave it a wde berth till it stopped flopping. All the fish we turned over to charities in Kodiak.
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    Default Thanks

    You guys are a ton of help! I really appreciate it! Looks like big, goofy circle hooks it is then with jigs and bait. I'll certainly make or buy a few of the halibut rigs mentioned also. The boats come with some sort of electronics so I'm hopeful I'll be able to figure out the bottom structure.

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    I never bring a halibut aboard with out hitting it with a fish bonker, even the little ones, because they will flop and bleed all over the place. Also, I have a huge cooler I use for a fish box, I gaff the fish, bonk it while it is still in the water and then it goes staight into the cooler, then I take the hook out. The fish never touches the boat, it helps keep from having to clean up blood and slime.

  13. #13

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    Though I haven't fished Thorne Bay specifically, I have fished Clarence Strait within a few miles of Thorne Bay for both salmon and halibut. Don't be suprised if you catch a number of halibut on salmon gear. You probably won't be fishing water much over 300' and most halibut are of the ping-pong paddle variety. Good quality salmon rod/reel will handle alot of your halibut fishing. Good luck.

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    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    One more thing, don't cut the gills when you bleed the fish. Look at the gill flap on the dark side, and on the edge of the skin right where it comes up and straightens out is where you should stick a knife in. There's an artery there and the fish bleed out much much better.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Actually, there is a sporting goods store in Thorne Bay that will have everything you need. I cannot remember the name, but in 2009 it was well stocked and the help was great.

    I might suggest you try some mooching as you can catch both salmon and halibut.

    I would also buy a few spreader bars and 12/16 ounce weights for drifting. I would buy some snelled 16/0 circle hooks and bait them with herring/salmon bellies/squid.

    When you catch one I would put in a waypoint and keep working the same area.

    Best of luck to you

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