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Thread: Has anyone tried downriggers for halibut?

  1. #1

    Default Has anyone tried downriggers for halibut?

    I am curious why this technique wouldnt work. Most downriggers that i know and i am not an expert but i believe release the line when there is a strike. Plus you can use monster weights without blowing out your shoulder realing up the huge weights on your line. WE have been talking about this on our last halibut trip on the way home from deep creek and wondered why would this not work. I think this would work great especially if you are slowly moving against an out going current, you have a downrigger bouncing baits off the bottom. I would think this would be magical for halibut.

    any thoughts??

  2. #2

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    This has been discussed here before;I have had some success,drifting& trolling; tangling can be a problem.

  3. #3

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    If you can't anchor, tangling can be a serious problem, even with one downrigger if the boat spins at all on the wind or current. Two downriggers would be a fuster cluck. But if the water's deep and you don't have an anchor winch, hauling anchor will teach you new lessons in blown shoulders and backs. But when anchored, you can do it real easy. We even go so far as to snap a chum bag onto the ball, and the baited line on a release just above it. Even then though, if the halibut circles before you can get the wire up and well out of the way, you're back in Tangle Land.

    We're happiest to simply put the chum bag on the downrigger and go to Spectra or some such on the rods in order to cut the amount of weight we need to use. If you only hit the couple of hours either side of the tide change, you can also cut down on the amount of weight needed.

  4. #4

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    Yeah;two downrigger lines wrapped with the anchor rode AND the kicker and main outboards was memorable.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by icook4 View Post
    Yeah;two downrigger lines wrapped with the anchor rode AND the kicker and main outboards was memorable.
    Sounds like fun!

  6. #6

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    Do it all the time and it works very well if you are anchored up in relatively shallow water (150 ft or less) and have lots of current. It's nice to not have to use 5 pounds of lead to get to the bottom when you can just use an electric downrigger instead, plus you get to fight the fish without any weight. One thing to do however is to make sure the spectra (or whatever mainline you're using) will hold in the downrigger clip, try increasing the tension and setting the line far back in clip to make sure the line holds while the fish takes your bait. Also, you might have to add a long heavy mono leader if the spectra doesn't hold. Try it sometime and you'll be amazed at how well it works.

  7. #7
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icook4 View Post
    Yeah;two downrigger lines wrapped with the anchor rode AND the kicker and main outboards was memorable.
    That's when you tie whatever deckhands you have handy (teenagers are good for this) to a strong line, tell 'em to strip to their skivvies, give 'em a knife, and send 'em over the side....lol.

  8. #8

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    I use downriggers for halibut, but I do it trolling. There are a couple of places I know of out there in K-Bay where there are plenty of halibut that can be caught while trolling. I just prefer "plunking" for them and having the feel of the bite.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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  9. #9

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    I tried it anchoring a few times...what a pain in the rear end it turned out to be! Never did try it drifting or trolling. I'm sure it CAN work but it didnt for me.

  10. #10
    Member Swissy's Avatar
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    works well for me, provided I anchor. Just not as fun as actually handling the rod for them. But, fun part is not having any weight on the line, allowing for friskier halibut! It's nice to be able to heavier current...saves from having to pull the anchor and drift if I don't want to. I'll usually throw a salmon head on a long leader and let it sit, allowing for bigger butt's to yank out the line from the clip. That way I don't have to deal with the smaller ones.

    But I still prefer to jig...
    '04 Hewescraft 24' Searunner
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  11. #11

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    hmm..maybe thats what we needed in sitka to help keep from tangling when we tried to use the riggers was current, or enough of it....we have it from time to time, though not like pws, not even close. Fished out of port alexander for a summer...talk about current shew!!! Cape Omney can be crazy rediculous....wish I would have thought to try it then LOL!

  12. #12
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    Used them on a trip out of Homer in may and loved em. fighting the fish and not the sinker was great. It also made it a lot easier for my daughter.

  13. #13

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    Geez, how much lead are you guys using that you worry about fighting the weight instead of the butt? I've never run into that problem. If you're fighting a 40 lb. halibut a 16 oz. sinker isn't going to put up much of a fight.

    The problem I have with using a downrigger would be having to adjust it about once every 20 seconds or so. The best places to fish for butt are big drop offs and various structure.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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  14. #14
    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    If you want something to B**** about, try snagging a Halibut with a 24 oz weight in a heavy tidal current.

    You'll never want to do it again. I promise.

    I don't encourage snagging halibut by the way. I don't find it to be productive to you or the fish.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

  15. #15
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    Default Great For A Known Zone

    If you have the right combination of smooth and forgiving bottom substrate using a down-rigger for halibut works great. If you remember a smooth familiar drag that produces halibut well enough to tow your rigger weights right on the bottom you WILL score. Your ugliest light-colored hootchie behind a flasher on a stout tail leader will collect flat ones of all sizes. I have had repeated success. My #1 tip is (due to some unsavory past barbed-hook experiences) - I recommend anyone trying this to switch to a larger barbless hook that you can get out of small fish easily for smooth releases. My #2 recommendation is to fashion a bar weight that is less likely to hang-up on any bottom obstructions you may encounter. A slight bend in the 12 to 15 pound section of shaft material makes them run more smoothly through cobble patchessmoo

    Mutley - don't underestimate the effect of a 16oz lead to exposed flesh and bone. I am certain that I am part of a very large group of sport gear fishermen who can say "It hurts like hell!" In the excitement of experiencing a nice fish coming alongside as either a big fish or a "first fish ever" accidents can and will happen when you aren't working with a professional experienced crew. None of it was intentional and I shouldn't have to wear a hard hat but I have been "clipped" in a couple of different halibut novice scenarios where everyone has already forgotten your pre-fishing instructions on the after deck before the gear went out. The most recent occurred last August when a slippery glove intervened and 16 oz popped out of a partner's hand under a surprise strain and nailed me in the exposed jaw hinge at the sweet spot. I immediately went to my knees to keep from falling out of the boat. Glad I had my Stearns vest on! That put a real damper on the lucky person's first halibut catch in a lifetime in Alaska.

    I recall only a couple of instances of fishing uneven structure with a rigger down while anchored but it would seem to me that it would be a simple task to monitor the rigger for depth change over structure. IMHO if it could make that rigger more effective as a fishing tool - why not use it to see if you could increase its potential and at the same time be learning more about the bottom and contours. It always seems to me that the gear someone is fiddling with on the bottom catches the most fish.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by JKD View Post
    Mutley - don't underestimate the effect of a 16oz lead to exposed flesh and bone. I am certain that I am part of a very large group of sport gear fishermen who can say "It hurts like hell!"
    WHAT!? I don't understand what either you or pike_palace are saying. I never said 16 oz. of lead wouldn't hurt if it hits you. I'd have to agree with you. And I'd say fighting a snagged halibut on a "big tide" day is going to be a pain whether you have no weight on or 16 oz. of lead. Both are situations that shouldn't happen and hope they never will. But neither is a good reason to risk losing downrigger gear over.

    The point of what I'm saying is one pound of lead is not going to make a lick of difference in what it feels like to pull up a 40 lb. halibut. My clients do it quite often and it's a non-issue.

    Where I fish you would have to monitor your downrigger every 20 seconds or so because I prefer not to anchor up over structure and thus would risk losing a downrigger weight and/or cable (not to mention the whole downrigger if you're not careful) and I have never had problems using regular old halibut weights. I very seldom fish where there is "the right combination of smooth and forgiving bottom substrate" because I have found that the best places to fish are where there is structure and structure just loves to eat downrigger gear.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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  17. #17
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    yea but it sucks reeling 16ozs of lead 200ft up just to check your bait! but its not enough of an issue to risk downrigger gear.
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

  18. #18

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    That's what's great about this site;varying insights.

    About half the halibut I've caught have been while deep trolling-drifting,hoping for a King salmon. That requires being right on top of the gear or losing it occasionally,for sure.
    At anchor I try to bait up with a combination of herring and squid or octopus to minimize bait checks,haven't had much success jigging(yet).

  19. #19

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    check there bellies....if you find halibut eating those little rock crabs, get a jig down, worked well for us.

    I'd set the hook right on a rock pile before drifting through it...the difference between having people who can handle a rod on a drift and people who've never done it before loosing gear all day long.

    Though sometimes flat spots be it sand or small rocks amid a huge section of boulders is a honey hole!

    as to the riggers, had a couple clients complain I liked to fish deep, 440-450, if you missed the top edge on the second hole you were over 500, if you missed that you were extremely deep, couple nice flat benches though not very large and hard to hit. One of the spots was a big fish magnet, the other produced though not as consistently as the 'table top'. Either way wished I could have found a system that didnt tangle all to heck on the way down so they didnt have to reel 24oz of lead on the way up. I wont fish with 16oz regardless of current, if nothing else to keep lines apart as the boat shifts/tide/or current changes. Most people didnt mind the work....it always seemed like I'd get the complainers on the 'perfect' day, no current, little to no wind....easily can get the pick where I want it and the boat sits right on the benches and not the edges. Oh well those days are gone! Still nice to know the new 'tricks'.....for the day when I finally buy my own boat lol. Lord knows I have enough gear!!!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abu_Garcia View Post
    yea but it sucks reeling 16ozs of lead 200ft up just to check your bait! but its not enough of an issue to risk downrigger gear.
    Don't fish in 200 ft. of water! I never do.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
    http://muttleycrewfishing.com

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