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Thread: Chalky Halibut (AGAIN!)

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    Member Mort's Avatar
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    Default Chalky Halibut (AGAIN!)

    I know we talk about this periodically, but here's my search for some anecdotal evidence.

    In my 15 years in AK, including lots of weekends with friends on my own boats, I had only seen one of these chalky halibut prior to this weekend. But this weekend, we had 3 or 4 chalky halibut, all chickens in the 15-lb range. A gentleman filleting next to me on Saturday had 3 that day too. We were both fishing in the Compass Rose area of Kachemak Bay.

    So my inquiring mind wants to know:
    1. Have others noticed an increase in chalky halibut over the years (I know I've also seen a dramatic increase in cod, and have heard of earlier arrivals of dogfish)?
    2. Do fishermen in other areas - Seward, PWS, Valdez, even Deep Creek - see many chalky halibut?
    3. Can anyone correlate it to size?

    I've read some of the ADFG info, and Googled other info. Just wondering what other fishermen are seeing.

    Chris

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    Member thewhop2000's Avatar
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    I'm at a loss. What is Chalky Halibut? I have never heard of such a thing. Please explain.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default chalky cod?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mort View Post
    I know we talk about this periodically, but here's my search for some anecdotal evidence.

    In my 15 years in AK, including lots of weekends with friends on my own boats, I had only seen one of these chalky halibut prior to this weekend. But this weekend, we had 3 or 4 chalky halibut, all chickens in the 15-lb range. A gentleman filleting next to me on Saturday had 3 that day too. We were both fishing in the Compass Rose area of Kachemak Bay.

    So my inquiring mind wants to know:
    1. Have others noticed an increase in chalky halibut over the years (I know I've also seen a dramatic increase in cod, and have heard of earlier arrivals of dogfish)?
    2. Do fishermen in other areas - Seward, PWS, Valdez, even Deep Creek - see many chalky halibut?
    3. Can anyone correlate it to size?

    I've read some of the ADFG info, and Googled other info. Just wondering what other fishermen are seeing.

    Chris
    I don't catch enough halibut to claim any observational value, but last week my boys and I got into a bunch of cod (pacific cod) and 2 or 3 out of the 15 or so cod we kept seemed to have the same opaque, whiteness to their meat that you see with chalky halibut. Those fish also seemed noticeably skinnier with less yield in the fillets than the "normal" fish.

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    I have only seen them in the chicken size range 10-15 pounders and it seems like they come from the compass rose area to the north, seen them up as far as Kalgin Island. IMO it is related to their diet but I am not a biologist. Maybe it is a genetic thing, like kings with white meat.
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    I think you are confusing Arrowhead Flounder with Halibut. They look very similar in that size.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mort View Post
    I know we talk about this periodically, but here's my search for some anecdotal evidence.

    In my 15 years in AK, including lots of weekends with friends on my own boats, I had only seen one of these chalky halibut prior to this weekend. But this weekend, we had 3 or 4 chalky halibut, all chickens in the 15-lb range. A gentleman filleting next to me on Saturday had 3 that day too. We were both fishing in the Compass Rose area of Kachemak Bay.

    So my inquiring mind wants to know:
    1. Have others noticed an increase in chalky halibut over the years (I know I've also seen a dramatic increase in cod, and have heard of earlier arrivals of dogfish)?
    2. Do fishermen in other areas - Seward, PWS, Valdez, even Deep Creek - see many chalky halibut?
    3. Can anyone correlate it to size?

    I've read some of the ADFG info, and Googled other info. Just wondering what other fishermen are seeing.

    Chris

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    I've been told that the reason for the translucent nature of the meat is due to anemia. I have seen a couple of fish from Ressurrection Bay with similar looking meat. I have to say though that I didn't notice a difference in taste.

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    Quote Originally Posted by qkayak View Post
    I think you are confusing Arrowhead Flounder with Halibut. They look very similar in that size.

    Nope, not arrowhead.....I been picking up a few of those butts myself off deep crk. Definitely butts and definitely mushy when cooked just like arrowhead. Also in the 10 to 20 lb range. I would guess diet...guess I;ll have to start checking their guts when i fillet em.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Also, have heard that many more cod than normal in cook inlet this yr. I got my first one ever off the beach a few days ago. Nice one that tasted yummy.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    Nope, not arrowhead.....I been picking up a few of those butts myself off deep crk. Definitely butts and definitely mushy when cooked just like arrowhead. Also in the 10 to 20 lb range. I would guess diet...guess I;ll have to start checking their guts when i fillet em.
    What you're describing is not chalky meat. Chalky meat, is meat that is not as translucent as typical halibut meat. It's much more white. It's caused from a build up of lactic acid. The "mushy" halibut are being caught this year in big numbers. There are numerous causes to mushy halibut, but the main culprit right now in Cook Inlet has to do with a diet deficiency. The muscle and connective tissue is going into atrophy, hence the mushy meat. This apparently happens every couple of years in Cook Inlet. It happened in 1998, 2002, 2007, and now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishGod View Post
    What you're describing is not chalky meat. Chalky meat, is meat that is not as translucent as typical halibut meat. It's much more white. It's caused from a build up of lactic acid. The "mushy" halibut are being caught this year in big numbers. There are numerous causes to mushy halibut, but the main culprit right now in Cook Inlet has to do with a diet deficiency. The muscle and connective tissue is going into atrophy, hence the mushy meat. This apparently happens every couple of years in Cook Inlet. It happened in 1998, 2002, 2007, and now.
    "chalky"....not my wording but.....I can only say it was noticably 'different' than the other butts meat when cleaning em. Sorta jelly like. Mushy even b4 cooking. I got 2 of em last yr out of many caught, One this yr off the beach out of 5 caught. I do rmbr in the past yrs every once in a while getting one.
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    So---do you eat a mushy halibut?

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    You can eat them without any problems. The issue has to do with presentation or aesthetics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishGod View Post
    You can eat them without any problems. The issue has to do with presentation or aesthetics.
    SO FISHGOD,
    i love your inteligence when it comes to anything fishy. this year there are MANY MANY "chalky" butts, most can be noticed by observing the white side of the fish and a brown/black motteling is USUALLY present, either in whole or around the fin area, i like others have heard lots of theorys as to why and I like yours on diets, i do remember other years when the "chalkiness" was very prevelant. Any way, my question/observation woulld be, does it have anything to do with gender? of the hundred or so halibut i have cleaned this year, we have had too many "chalkys" but in my own unsientific research, 99 % have been in males. Most all of the healthy fish seem to be females. Your thoughts.
    thanks
    PB
    i was beginning to think it was ESB!

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    From a google search - "Chalky Halibut Chalky Halibut is a fairly common condition in Halibut flesh which leaves the meat white, opaque, and a little mushy. It appears as though it has been cooked. It cooks up soft and falls apart.
    The condition tends to occur more frequently during the warmer months and is thought to occur perhaps when a fish is on the long line too long, fights too hard, and perhaps even dies during the fight. Lactic acid builds up in the flesh and does not have a chance to release before death, which leaves the flesh more acidic. It can take 3 - 7 days for chalkiness to reveal itself.
    If you recieve chalky Halibut you should return it for credit. The fish is not "bad" in the sense of unhealthy, but it is bad in the sense of being low quality. In the image the [COLOR=blue !important][COLOR=blue !important]filet[/COLOR][/COLOR] on the right is "chalky", notice that the filet on the left has an almost transparent sheen to the flesh. Whereas the chalky filet is white and opaque.


    When we did a lot of fishing in SE, we iced our fish (and did not have this occurrence), whereas a lot of others did not. They would put their fish in the ice chests, tubs, fish wells without ice, stay out all day; IMO, the meat quality suffered. Its amazing that so many people will spend so much money on gas, equipment, guided trips, and not spend the extra money for some ice.

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    Member slimm's Avatar
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    Last year we took a charter out of Homer same guy same place as all the other years, we ended up with a bunch of little 15/20 pounders
    every one of my packages turned out mushy and most of the others were also, first time in over ten years that has happened.
    Soon as we got to shore we wraped every piece in plastic wrap then put em in ziplocks then put em in ice filled coolers then had em in the freezer at hamiltons soon as he opened the next morning, then vac sealed em a few days later.
    Sure was a bummer when i got home and cooked some up, then it was a real bummer when they all turned out mushy.
    Hoping for better luck this year.

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    Also got one last weekend and noticed the flesh was opaque and a little mushy. Haven't eaten it yet though. Yes, it was out of homer. Can't ever remember getting on before. I have a hard time believing it has to do with the fish dying on the line or improper care. I did nothing different than I have the past 15 years. Something is going on with them. Wonder what it is?

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    Interesting. We kept 20 fish (10-20 lb range) this last weekend between 5 people for 2 days out of Anchor Pt. I personally filletted all the fish and didn't notice an chalky butts. BTW, I meant to say Arrowtooth Flounder not Arrowhead.

    Quote Originally Posted by cod View Post
    Nope, not arrowhead.....I been picking up a few of those butts myself off deep crk. Definitely butts and definitely mushy when cooked just like arrowhead. Also in the 10 to 20 lb range. I would guess diet...guess I;ll have to start checking their guts when i fillet em.

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    Alot of the halibut that were examined out of Cook Inlet that exhibited the "mushy" condition, were chickens that had preexisting hook wounds in their mouth from long liners or sport fisherman. This would explain the lactic acid build up on some of the fish. This phenomenon was examined a few years ago and one of the interesting findings was that a large percentage of these "mushy" halibut exhibited ichthyophonus, which was thought to only occur in herring and Salmonids. It definitely seems to be isolated in a few locations. A lack of proper food, nutrients , and vitamins would explain why certain shools exhibit this condition and others don't. Some find food, while others don't.
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    This was a chalky halibut in 2005 ... gave it away ... the guests thought it was great ...IMG_5663.jpg

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    Default Radiation

    Well I am no expert and I haven't caught many Halibut but I think it is caused by Japanese radiation.

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