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Thread: How do you handle a really big halibut?

  1. #1
    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    Default How do you handle a really big halibut?

    Went out of Seward Tuesday & Wednesday, was drifting the three large rockpiles to the east of Cape Clear. The three of us picked up our limit of rockfish with jigs and then I started using a 1 lb weight and 1/2 herring to hopefully catch a legal ling or two and the two kids started doing the same. We did catch and release two border line lings and then a keeper 35lb halibut.

    In the next drift my rod went double and I thought ... oh S**T I am on a rock ... the rock shook its head and putting as much into it as I could got it to move. Then it realized all was not well, it ripped off a long run stright north and then came right back at the boat. I think that I got it up off the bottom and mabey to 20 to 30 ft under the boat. I handed the rod off to a visiting friend from Utah who thought a 20" trout was a big deal. The back and forth pull and tug went on for about 10 minutes and then the fish took off towards the east and was heading for deep water and all we could do was hang on. When we hit the dacron backing I strarted to follow it with the boat. Probably covered 1/4 mile before the 80 lb test line broke!

    To give a comparison of the power of this fish, we went to Ellerington later and set up on an under water hill and caught this nice 5'3" 120lb fish, it was exciting and she ran strong, but I do not think it had 1/5 the power of the one that got away.

    What is the best way to work with a really big fish, let up when they start to run, start following with the boat right away and what about end game, shoot first and then harpoon. This encounter has me rethinking what to do next time.
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  2. #2

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    That sounds like you had a huge one. I would only comment on the "end game", leaving the rest to others. I don't keep many monsters anymore, but my procedure is to harpoon first, then shoot. I have had two experiences which made a believer out of me. One, shot the fish, it went completely beserk, had to crank it up twice (all the way). Two, shot it and it went completely limp, dead weight straight up and down. Had a hard time holding it/getting it back up. Just my way, others' results may vary.

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    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    Like Homertime, I like to harpoon them first, then shoot them just behind the top eye. As far as the battle with the big flattie, it seems to me that you were being "walked by the dog". I haven't put a lot of big halibut (over 200 pounds) in the boat, but have fought and boated a few. When they run like that I have found that you need to get ahead of them. We were fishing the around Cape Cleare this past July and hooked into a very large one. We followed her for over a quarter mile and only got her off the bottom a couple of times. After 45 minutes of letting her control the fight I told the guys that we needed to change tactics and get ahea of the fish. I started motoring circles around her and was eventually able to plane her up to within 20 feet of the surface. Just as we could see color, the jig pulled free. I suspect that if she had eaten one of the 20/0 circle hooks we could have gotten her to the boat. Big fish! In hindsight, we should have taken control much sooner and started planing her up. We might have been able to see how big it was. The same guy lost another big one an hour later. His new nick name is the halibut farmer.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  4. #4

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    Just like Spoiled One said...run circles and keep them at bay...harpoon, then shoot. Tie your harpoon line to a bouy so it doesn`t tear out of the fish on the first run or for that matter tear a cleat off.


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  5. #5

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    Shoot and immidiately harpoon it is how I do it. Used to harpoon first, but they go nuts and bang up the boat with the jig or weight. I just make sure I know where the hook is before I pull the trigger. Seems to stun them at the very least. Tie off the harpoon line to a cleat before harpooning. Let it bleed out and then haul it in. Never seen one bigger than around 180 lbs caught. Sounds like you had one heck of a fight on your hands.
    Could it possibly have been a salmon shark I wonder?

  6. #6
    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    I thought about the shark idea also, but would a shark be on the bottom and bite on 1/2 of a herring. One time this summer I camped out over in Baimbridge and had a big shark circling close to the boat and I threw a whole herring in front of .... it acted like it was not even their, I think they go after live fish, preferably salmon. It was in there feeding on tide water pinks. Probably a big butt ...

  7. #7

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    Have not kept a breeding stock female (any thing over 100) in a few years. Harpon then shoot was my prefered choice.

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    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    Shoot it with the .410 and gaff it. Little or no need for the harpoon. That snakecharmer just cools them right down.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    Personally I prefer to keep 40 to 80 lb Halibut .... but, if you look at the picture, the guy on the right goes to work as a Marine Leiutenant, most likely infintry in Afganistan and my son holding the fish is just a year behind at Oregon State University. If we haul up something that big ... once for the sake of their memorys I just want to close the deal. Sometimes it is nice to say to some kids that may be putting themselfs in harms way ... job well done in protecting my personal freedom. No one did that for me during the Vietnam conflict .....

  10. #10

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    Most big fish will just stop running, if you carefully flip your reel into free spool and take pressure off of it. (careful not to backlash your reel) I do it with big kings all the time if they are running towards kelp or if they are getting ready to spool me.

    When I get a great big hali on, I loosen my drag. A heavy drag, stout rod, and a surging 200lb halibut will test every flaw in that line and every knot you tied in your riggin. I know my line is well used, so I loosen that drag. Take the extra time and coax that big hali to the surface, by using smooth rod motions. The smoother you are, the less they'll run. If you yank on them, they'll yank back.

  11. #11

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    Give enough drag to play and not break line, but not so much as you can't control it, take your time, pull up and reel down, harpoon all the way through, quickly shoot multiple times in head (with machine gun if you are licenced), bleed, gaff, pull aboard, high five, take pictures, fillet, clean gun, drink whiskey (after anchoring), eat steak, smoke cigar.

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    Member Maast's Avatar
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    With the way that fish was running I have to wonder if you hooked into a monster sized ling vs a big halibut.

    Could you ever see it on your fishfinder?
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    You snagged a big skate in the wing!

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    I landed a 350#salmon shark from 330ft.at the needles on a bottom rig with herring it ran on the bottom, mid , top and the whole time I thought it was a halli so who knows? as for a very large butt let it go after you've had your fun they are not that good to eat
    Dave

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    Default Possibly a big skate

    Quote Originally Posted by dipnet View Post
    You snagged a big skate in the wing!
    Ya know... I was thinking the same thing when I read this last night.

    Just this year out of Ninilchik I had a fish on that both the captain and I were certain was a halibut based on the head-shakes.

    This fish ran 50-75 yards then stopped. I would bring it up 30-40' off the bottom in 130' of water...then back down; this happened about 3 times. FINALLY after a lot of finesse the darn thing started to come up. Low and behold the biggest fish I have ever surfaced (I landed a 240lb halibut in 06) was a Skate hooked in the wing. The thing was huge, almost the width of the 28' Alumaweld boat with a 10' beam. Disappointing that it was a skate, but amazed that both of us were wrong.

    All we could figure is the wing flapping gave us both the idea it was a big ol' halibut.
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


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    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    I have caught large skate with a big wing span but every time with the skate there was a consistant direction with the surge and power of the run of this critter it would take something with a great big tail. At the time the tide was light (near high tide) on the east side of Cape Clear and if a skate was to use the current it could pull hard with the tide, this fish started running strong against the tide back to the boat and then strong parrell to the tide with a definate zing to the sound of line spooling off. There was no wobble or pulse to the pull (wing hooked skate), still think it was a big butt, mabey a shark, but the line broke quite a ways from the hook, if it was a shark you think it's teeth would eventually saw through the 200 lb mono slider rig. We had this one on for at least 15 minutes.

    As far as looking at the sounder ... in the heat of battle that was the last thing on my mind, but that is a good thought, next time it happens I will glance in that direction.

    What I came away from this post so far is that by letting the line free spool there is a chance the fish will turn and stop, I have done this with King Salmon on many occasions. Number two was to get in front of the fish and pull it up getting it off the bottom and then plane it up to the boat. A few years ago we caught a 160 lb halibut on one of the biggest tides of the year (at anchor we were throwing off a good wake) on the west side of Cape Clear. When I hooked that fish we were essentially in front of the fish pulling it with the tide and I was able to sail it up to the back of the boat.

    Lastly, changing out all of that four or five year 80lb test line for fresh 120 lb test.

    Thanks for the comments ... might give it one more try this year.

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    ocnfish - My guess is that it WAS a big halibut. I agree with 270ti about either backing off the drag or free-spooling on a "runner" like that. That doesn't mean you are going to get the fish but in every case where I have had a biggie take off like a locomotive they stopped running once the pressure on the line was released. I also am in favor of getting underway and recovering your line until you are back in control. We have had a few take off like that and when we got above them and started adding pressure once again they took off on another long run. The last 250+ fish we kept (years ago) was a runner and once we had it harpooned and killed we discovered it had three separate old hooks in its mouth so I suspect it had been raising Hell with others out on the fishing grounds. ;-)

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    My preferred method is to harpoon it and tie it off to a bouy. Lighten the drag on it as it will run.

  19. #19
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    I grew up as a deckhand on a halibut boat. Our method for any fish under 250 lbs. was to gaff and shoot simultaneously (deckhand on the gaff, captain on the 38 special), then the captain follows shortly after with a second gaff. Over 250 or badly hooked, we would harpoon and shoot simultaneously. Harpoon tip tied to 15 feet of rope to a buoy, and then another 15 feet of bigger rope tied to the buoy is the best. That way if the shot doesn't kill it and it takes off running you can let it take the buoy into the water and fight against the buoy while you hold on to the larger 15 foot length of rope and don't let it run away from the boat. It tries to fight the buoy down. In my time deckhanding out of Ninilchik, the boat I was on landed 3 fish over 300 with the largest coming in at 342. The best way to muscle the fish up is to NOT use the pump and reel method but instead lay the rod on the rail (by the padding above the reel) and slowly and steadily wind it up. The pump and real method tends to agitate a large halibut while a very slow steady reeling motion causes it to rise without running. We caught a 305 pounder one time that took a smoking run after the guy pumped on it a few times. After it stopped, we had him slowly real on it and have another person help feed line onto the reel hand over hand. Our theory was if the halibut didn't feel threatened, it would come right up. It never took another run.

    Just my 2 cents.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKArcher View Post
    Ya know... I was thinking the same thing when I read this last night.

    Just this year out of Ninilchik I had a fish on that both the captain and I were certain was a halibut based on the head-shakes.

    This fish ran 50-75 yards then stopped. I would bring it up 30-40' off the bottom in 130' of water...then back down; this happened about 3 times. FINALLY after a lot of finesse the darn thing started to come up. Low and behold the biggest fish I have ever surfaced (I landed a 240lb halibut in 06) was a Skate hooked in the wing. The thing was huge, almost the width of the 28' Alumaweld boat with a 10' beam. Disappointing that it was a skate, but amazed that both of us were wrong.

    All we could figure is the wing flapping gave us both the idea it was a big ol' halibut.
    Sounds like an awesome boat. I have been around dozens of 28' Alumawelds and I haven't seen one with a 10' beam. Quite impressive. Must be a 2010 model or something because everything 2009 and older have 8 foot beams.

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