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Thread: I need to be schooled on black cod sable fish

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    Default I need to be schooled on black cod sable fish

    Im heading to PWS this weekend and would like to try and catch them on rod and real? never done it any sug?

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I haven't fished for them yet, because you need to fish in 150-200 fathoms (I try and fish in 75 fathoms or better yet less than 50 fathoms). I've heard you can find them off the N end of Montague, I'm sure also in other parts of the sound as well.

    Fish deep, and tell us how you do.

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Deep. Really, really deep. Like your arm-falling-off-from-reeling-too-much deep. The handful of folks that target them are using electric reels and are probably fishing a bare minimum of 600'.

    Maybe if you sweet talk Brian, he'll key you into a location or two to try. Bribing him with a 6-pack of brew might work even better.

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    We used to longline for 'em in PWS. The 'deep' advice cannot be overstated, as I recall our 'shallow' sets began around 175 fathoms.

    Spunky fish tho', pull them up from 200 + fathoms and they hit the surface as fresh and full of piss and vinegar as a troll caught coho....
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I have a commercial longline permit for sablefish in the Sound. Our "shallow" sets start at around 280 fathoms, but we're usually targeting them at more than 300 fathoms. The deeper you go, the more numerous and larger the sablefish will be. We do catch some when targeting halibut at shallower depths (~200 fathoms), but they're few and far between - and about half the size on average.

    I'm happy to share some places if you have a reel capable of reaching those depths.

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    Brian what do you use for bait when longlining for them? I would think a person could use an electric downrigger with about 2000' of line to fish for them I have been thinking of trying that at slack tide so the boat doesn't drift to bad.

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    I've got a reel and was going to try last year but every time I had a slack tide it was blowing. Do you look for flat bottoms?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishtales View Post
    Brian what do you use for bait when longlining for them? I would think a person could use an electric downrigger with about 2000' of line to fish for them I have been thinking of trying that at slack tide so the boat doesn't drift to bad.
    Usually just herring, but squid works even better. They're not picky, though. Herring, squid, p-cod, octopus, salmon (commercially caught or pinks in area where legal to use as bait)...it doesn't really matter. Squid is #1, but everything else works.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait 1 View Post
    Do you look for flat bottoms?
    Not necessarily. Just deep. Look for trenches and try there.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default The steeps

    From my experience, I'd try the steep edges, as in, just over an edge that drops off, maybe up on the edge but more likely over it going on down, if that makes sense, the deeper it goes the better, or edges of Deep Canyons also,

    Any bait can catch em but as Brian says Squid is #1 and will hang on your hook for the plunge to depth, and Don't over bait your hook (cut a size that just fits the circle hook you are using) I've seen Blackcod come over the rail with a mouth full of bait they had been picking off the longline until one finally got him. (I mean like twenty or more pcs in the belly and mouth) They are really good at pulling bait off a hook and will come up Very Lightly Lip Hooked in a lot of cases.

    The really large ones are way deep but I have run into them in shallow as 80 fathoms in Summer (June, maybe now) I'll be targeting them out west beyond Sand Point in a week or two and I'll be looking less than 120fa and up to 75-80 fathoms just to see (I have nailed em in five pound avg size class shallow in past) and I will definitely run into some there so don't be blown away by 250fa numbers. Tho, that is where I expect to find the best size grade, below 180 and on down to 330 fathoms, and that's considered shallow among some BlackCod Guys.

    Good Fishing to you, let us know if you figure out how to sportfish em down there
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  11. #11

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    There's one exception on black cod that I know of. We've got a couple of places (not in the Sound) where smaller fish move into the shallows early in August. I got turned onto them by a seiner friend who set on a school he had spotted the day before when flying over a bay. Went back and set on the school, and came away really scratching his head. Who would expect them in the shallows, much less in a school tight enough to spot from the air!

    He called me and I went out with the sport gear. Found them in 35 feet of water. Size ranged from 15-18". We brought home a couple of dozen and gave them a try. Dandy, but soft. We solved it by hard salting the sides, then freshening them overnight in freshwater prior to light smoking. Nice and firm with all the oils and sweet taste. A friend even pickles them rather than smoking. Now THERE is a taste treat.

    This doesn't seem to be an "unusual" phenomenon, because we can find them almost every year. Not really "sporty" by any means due to their small size. But tell that to my belly!

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    juvenile sablefish are actually a major predator on young pink salmon when the move just offshore. They hang out in very shallow water (less than 40 feet) until the get about 20 inches or so. The find a lot of them in survey trawls on the outside
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  13. #13

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    Makes perfect sense from what I've seen. These are in the heads of bays early in August, really too late for juvenile pinks, but they happen to arrive right along with the needlefish schools. Nice place to visit after the pinks have moved on!

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    New member Sockeye Salm's Avatar
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    We used to long line them about 65 miles South East of Kodiak out in the trench. Usually fished 300 to 400 fathoms. Used mostly herring for bait. We fished over 20,000 hooks spaced about 4 feet apart. When we got in a school of them we would pretty much have one on 4 out of 5 hooks.

    The Japanese prize them, and use them for special occasions like weddings. When we dressed them we had to do it a certain way, V cut at the head and do not cut the belly open. Gut them with the belly intact. They would stuff them and bake.

    We tried boiling them, but you have to develop a taste for that, pretty oily. Another name for black cod is butter fish.

    The best way that I found to prepare them is to fillet and salt them, then after a couple weeks, leach out as much salt as you can overnight leaving a fresh water hose running in a bucket of them. Then pickle them or smoke them. Pickled and/or smoked black cod is really tough to beat. Let me make myself clear......this stuff is REALLY GOOD !!!!!!

    I just bought 2 new Daiwa Seaborg 1000MT power assist reals. They are a new item and Tom at B&J's ordered mine a couple weeks ago. They should be here any day. I can't wait. They hold 2640 feet of 80 lb braid. I'm putting 65 lb spider wire on mine, per Tom's suggestion, to cut down on resistance. It would probably hold 3000 feet of 65 spider wire if I want to fill it up. Pretty spendy but Tom is taking 20% off on the line.

    Tom said to try the hole off the North end of Knight Island for black cod. Brian if you could PM me with a couple other spots to try, I would really appreciate it, and will return the favor some day.

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    John, I've got the same reel, hopefully I'll be using it next week. I'll let you know if I find any.

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    New member Sockeye Salm's Avatar
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    Thanks BB1, I'd like to hear how you do. What did you put on for line? It will be quite the novelty to fish 1500' to 2000' with 4 or 5 lbs of lead. I assume I will have to backtroll a bit to keep things vertical. It would be nice to get about a 35lb shortraker along with a few Black cod.

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    if you do a search on dept of f&g you can find where the commercial guys fish.
    thats what I did. I fish in 1200' and deeper. sea anchors work well to control your drift.
    I use squid for bait. 3lb weight and 5 minutes to the bottom.

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    Default I just cannot ...

    Fathom that!!! No pun intended. Fishing that deep? Five minutes to reach bottom? Does not compute, Will Robinson, does not compute.
    Holy Cow, Batman. 1200 feet of water? I am blown away at the depths you guys are discussing. Is it all worth it? I guess that is the question, Bottom line, is it worth it? Having to salt and then wash, cure or whatever you want to call it, it does not seem worth it to me, JMO.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    John I think I put on 55# line.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thewhop2000 View Post
    Having to salt and then wash, cure or whatever you want to call it, it does not seem worth it to me, JMO.
    Not necessary depending on how you prepare the fish. A lot of the top chefs in writing and television have placed the sablefish at the absolute top of their list of favorite fish to cook, worldwide. There are methods for preparing it that are not so cumbersome and which taste excellent.

    Worth it for what many consider the finest fish in the ocean? Yep, I'd say so. Besides, trying something new and having that twinge of excitement from sheer exploration is worth every bit of effort.

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