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Thread: Best Bait for Halibut

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    Default Best Bait for Halibut

    Whats everyones favorite bait for Halibut?

    I'm new to hailbut fishing and i have always used herring. I was wondering if there was better bait out there? I hear salmon head, bellies, octupus, cod, and squid... Any suggestions? Thanks for the help!
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

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    Not to sound sarcastic, but whatever they are biting on is the best bait to use. I have found being out there 4 to 7 days a week every week that there is no "favorite" bait when it comes to what they will bite on. People might have favorite things to use, but halibut don't care what a person's favorite thing to use is.

    That's why I use herring, squid, octopus, halibut carcass parts, salmon carcass parts, cod strips and pollock. I have had days when one seems to work better than others, and days when you could put anything on your hook and they'd bite. Today it didn't seem to matter much as we caught and released over 20 and then settled on 8 that ranged in size from 12 lbs. up to 39 lbs. with a whole smorgasbord of baits down there.

    I have a feeling you're going to get about 8 (or more) different answers here and they'll all be correct. Just bring along a little of each and try them all. If one works better for you than another that day just keep using that. If things "turn off" suddenly try something different.

    I think my favorite might be dungeness crab if I could figure out a way to use it as bait economically. In the last week or two I've cut open a lot of halibut stomachs and little tiny dungies are by far the most prolific thing I've found in their stomachs. Needle fish are definitely second. Today we caught one little 12 pounder and it had about 8 little dungies (about the size of a half dollar) in its stomach and the other day I found one about the same size with 18 (I counted them) of those little dungies in its stomach. Then another smaller chicken I cleaned had a very small (about 8" long) 3/4 digested halibut in its stomach. They are very cannibalistic and chunks of butt parts can be very effective.

    Don't limit yourself and you'll end up limiting...yourself!
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    In 20+ years of helping to run a small family longliner, nothing out-fishes pacific cod. All the others are good too - herring, salmon carcasses, octopus, etc - but nothing increases our catch rate like cod.

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    thanks for the advice guys..

    Muttly- you pretty much summed it all up, Thanks!

    Brian, i heard you say pretty much the same thing in another thread, problem is i cant ever find pcod anywhere, any reccomendations? i'm assuming your not talking about fillets from the store, but would they work?

    I pretty much use herring, and from what i have heard it's pretty much the most reliable bait, but that info is not from any pros or charter operations, just everyday sport fisherman. I have also try Berkly's squid, they clam "it outfishes live bait" but it didn't produce at all....
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abu_Garcia View Post
    Brian, i heard you say pretty much the same thing in another thread, problem is i cant ever find pcod anywhere, any reccomendations? i'm assuming your not talking about fillets from the store, but would they work?
    Fillets from the store would certainly work, but it would likely be much less expensive to buy whole fish from a processor. I'm not familiar with Southeast, but we have some areas in Prince William Sound that are consistent producers of cod. One fish goes a long ways - probably 20-25 pieces of bait on average, so you don't need many to do a lot of fishing.

    Herring is a good bait, though. Part of the beauty of cod is that it stays on the hook much better than herring, but if fishing in relatively shallow waters that matters less.

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    What do you consider "shallow waters" or i guess a better question is what is considered deep water? i usually fish succesfully in my spots 190-230ft, caught a few in around 130...

    Also while were talking halibut, i got an idea in my head tonight at work, on a typical halibut rig with 2 hooks and a weight, would it be wise to substitute the weight with a jig? seems like an additional way to put more hooks in the water...
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

  7. #7

    Default Cheap Bait

    All has been said so far you need to know, some excellent advise and Muttley's right.
    But I learned on a budget living in Homer we couldn't buy Octopus, but the old timer that taught me, would make strip of the white side of Halibut skins. Maybe 2" by 12" long, tough as Octopus too, so when they suck your herring off they still see the white skin & bingo. And yup never throw back a cod ya caught super bait.
    Water depth, Halibut are garbage cans, where there is food they could be. hint the fishing hole off shore

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    Question Not sure it would be legal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abu_Garcia View Post
    What do you consider "shallow waters" or i guess a better question is what is considered deep water? i usually fish succesfully in my spots 190-230ft, caught a few in around 130...

    Also while were talking halibut, i got an idea in my head tonight at work, on a typical halibut rig with 2 hooks and a weight, would it be wise to substitute the weight with a jig? seems like an additional way to put more hooks in the water...
    I'm NO authority on the subject, as halibut fishing gets into Federal regs, but page 4 of the state fishing regs booklet limits sportfishing gear to one line with maximum of two (2) hooks. I'd be nervous about using more than 2 hooks on a rig.

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    Yup, 2 hooks is your limit, whether one or two of the hooks is on a jig or not has no bearing on what you can use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abu_Garcia View Post
    What do you consider "shallow waters" or i guess a better question is what is considered deep water? i usually fish succesfully in my spots 190-230ft, caught a few in around 130...
    Shallow is anything that doesn't make you miserable while reeling up your hook to check your bait. I would think that anything under 300' qualifies. I'm saying this in context of Prince William Sound, though, which is very deep water. We fish for sablefish in waters over 2,000' deep, so shallow is a relative term.

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    We'll drop herring first, but on one rod we always put a smallish jig and try catching whatever else is in the area. Usually the first thing we catch on that turns out to be the best for that location. After all, the halibut came there to eat something specific, and likely the same species you caught.

    Could be rockfish, greenling, flounder, cod, pollack. Just whack up the first thing that comes over the rail and use that. Very often a small strip of that on a jig is even better than a chunk, especially if you match the jig color to whatever you cut up.

    Halibut are both predators and scavengers, and we're more of the mindset to appeal to the predator with something "live" than wait for them to pick up a chunk off the bottom.

    Lately we've been getting them incidental to kings in very shallow water, whether trolling, jigging or mooching. Needlefish are schooled there and everything you catch has a solid rope of needlefish in its gut. Can't begin to get a needlefish on a hook, but shove a piece up inside a hoochie, use a dart, or mooch with firecracker herring and you're set for both.

    How shallow? Got a 60-pounder yesterday in 6' of water after seeing it bust a needlefish school and casting to it. Got one Wednesday that went 73 pounds on a mooched herring half way to the bottom in 22 feet. Halibut are going where the food is, and right now that's needlefish where I'm fishing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    In 20+ years of helping to run a small family longliner, nothing out-fishes pacific cod. All the others are good too - herring, salmon carcasses, octopus, etc - but nothing increases our catch rate like cod.
    So I've heard this same thing from alot of charter guys so I've been keeping cod and using it as bait. Sure doesn't seem to bring them in like herring. I always chalked this up to the oil and smell of herring. From what you said obviously I'm missing something. Is cod something that needs to be used fresh? I'm wondering if by taking it home and freezing it if that's causing a problem. I'll definitely keep trying as you know far more than I do.

    Muttley, we pulled in a dozen halibut this past weekend and all had a ton of those small crabs in them. Would be interesting to try them out for sure.

    Also, the one problem I have using herring is halibut steel the bait very easily. Is there a trick to keeping the herring on the hook longer?

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    Default Halibut bait

    Quote Originally Posted by patrickL View Post
    So I've heard this same thing from alot of charter guys so I've been keeping cod and using it as bait. Sure doesn't seem to bring them in like herring. I always chalked this up to the oil and smell of herring. From what you said obviously I'm missing something. Is cod something that needs to be used fresh? I'm wondering if by taking it home and freezing it if that's causing a problem. I'll definitely keep trying as you know far more than I do.

    Muttley, we pulled in a dozen halibut this past weekend and all had a ton of those small crabs in them. Would be interesting to try them out for sure.

    Also, the one problem I have using herring is halibut steel the bait very easily. Is there a trick to keeping the herring on the hook longer?
    I have not tried this yet, but someone told me they put hering in a white sock, stays on the hook a long time. Anyone tried this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishnngrinn View Post
    I have not tried this yet, but someone told me they put hering in a white sock, stays on the hook a long time. Anyone tried this?
    Havent used a sock, but have used pantyhose before. I works decent, but for me, if the fishing is so hot where I keep losing bait, I just use a jig

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickL View Post
    So I've heard this same thing from alot of charter guys so I've been keeping cod and using it as bait. Sure doesn't seem to bring them in like herring. I always chalked this up to the oil and smell of herring. From what you said obviously I'm missing something. Is cod something that needs to be used fresh? I'm wondering if by taking it home and freezing it if that's causing a problem. I'll definitely keep trying as you know far more than I do.

    Muttley, we pulled in a dozen halibut this past weekend and all had a ton of those small crabs in them. Would be interesting to try them out for sure.

    Also, the one problem I have using herring is halibut steel the bait very easily. Is there a trick to keeping the herring on the hook longer?
    Same here. We keep on trying cod but the fish will always take the hook with herring. But once we caught a smallish cod about 4-5 pounds so I split opened its body cavity and lowered it back down. What ever picked it up just ripped line out of the reel for about 25 yards then got off the hook.
    And yes, I now know it is illegal to use sport caught fish for bait so hold the lectures.

    But as good as herring is, nothing beats a jig. They will hit a jig on one side of the boat yet never touch the herring on the other side.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    And yes, I now know it is illegal to use sport caught fish for bait so hold the lectures.
    Unless there is a limit on cod (and Im pretty sure there isnt anywhere in Alaska), then it is completely legal to use. Thats why its legal to use herring caught on herring jigs.

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    Sport-caught pacific cod are most certainly legal to use as bait, as are arrowtooth flounder, herring, etc. As mentioned above, as long as it doesn't have a limit, you're good to go.

    I would guess that herring has more immediate appeal in areas where the fish are thick due to their oil. Cod stays on the hook longer and degrades more slowly, so it fishes better over a longer period of time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickL View Post

    Also, the one problem I have using herring is halibut steel the bait very easily. Is there a trick to keeping the herring on the hook longer?
    I take about an 8" piece of cotton string and tie the herring to the circle hook. Seems to help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf1 View Post
    I'm NO authority on the subject, as halibut fishing gets into Federal regs, but page 4 of the state fishing regs booklet limits sportfishing gear to one line with maximum of two (2) hooks. I'd be nervous about using more than 2 hooks on a rig.
    why does all my great ideas have to be illegal i thought i stumbled on to something!

    But about jigs, do you put them all the way on the bottom? also i see two different type of jigs for halibut, the ones with the big lead head and a skirt, and metal vertical jigs that have a treble hook on the end. Anyways how are you suppose to fish them? Thanks for the help guys!
    I Wish i could change my name to Shimano, because i recently started hating Ambassdor Abu_Garcia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowwolfe View Post
    But as good as herring is, nothing beats a jig.
    I'm not sure where you fish, but out in K-Bay and Cook Inlet I have tried both many, many times and herring will outfish a jig about 10 to 1.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
    http://muttleycrewfishing.com

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