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  • Shallow water halibut

    Hi!

    I keep hearing these rumors and reading comments about halibut moving in close to shore in shallow water this time of year because of various reasons such as feeding on salmon carcasses to chasing bait fish. Wondering about the halibut in Cook Inlet. Why are they so shallow in spring, anyone know? Do herring spawn on the beaches there like elsewhere on the peninsula? Never seen signs of herring eggs on the beach while clam digging. Do they follow the hooligan maybe?

    Thanks!!!

  • #2
    That's a good question. We used to catch herring off the beaches of Kenai when i was a kid and the hooligan are also running. Last weekend about half mile off shore in 30ft of water at Deep Creek, I'd run across what looked like bait balls on my fish finder. Enough of them that I prepped a sabiki rig I use in PWS and Seward. I dropped sabiki rigs down and I know I passed through the zone on several occasions without getting hit. That NEVER happens in PWS if I am over herring or frankly anything (salmon smolts, small cod, etc). So I was wondering too what they might have been. Maybe sandlances too small to hit my sabiki...but they were pretty small hooks.

    Sonar seems to work everywhere else I use it so it had me befuddled. I know they are there though. Spoke with a driftboat that caught them in 30ft of water, and we got two small ones from a kayak last weekend.

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    • #3
      I don't know Cook Inlet from cooked peas, but everywhere else I've fished they follow bait and water temp. They'll come shallower as the temp rises as a general rule, but will venture really shallow from their comfort zone if they're following bait. But they only come really shallow on the rising tide. How much that translates to Cook Inlet, who knows. But I've caught them shallow enough to watch them hit in the spring when the herring crash the beaches, again in early June when the capelin are spawning, and late July through early August when the big schools of needlefish move up against the beach, and later in August when the pink salmon are entering rivers. And we're not talking small halibut either. And in my experience they aren't necessarily waiting for the pinks to die. They'll go for pinks when they're swimming, too.
      "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
      Merle Haggard

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      • #4
        Alot of good sized Halibut live in the shallow waters of the kelp beds. Lots of good forage food to be found there. I do 90% of my Halibut fishing in 120' of water or less, and we always get a 100# fish or better every year, plus lots in the 40# to 60# range.

        But for what you are asking, they move "shallow" (normal spring/summer locations) largely because they are coming out of their spawning grounds in winter (deep, deep water 500'<). So "shallow" in a sense is not really "shallow" it's just water not ungodly deep. Shallow could be 300' or 50'.
        "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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        • #5
          they like to eat baby dungies.. Around this time of the year, if you know the right spots, you can find the big halibut up close gorging on them..
          Alaska Wide Open Charters
          www.alaskawideopen.com
          907-965-0130

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 270ti View Post
            they like to eat baby dungies.. Around this time of the year, if you know the right spots, you can find the big halibut up close gorging on them..
            That's a hot tip, and I know just the places to check. Thanks! In July they can get onto some little olive and orange crabs in rocky areas. I'm not sure what kind of crab, but due to the shape, maybe a "box" crab? In any case, when they get on those crabs they can be really hard to catch because they don't want much else. We manage to forage a fair number by switching to olive/orange leadheads with bucktail or yarn clipped really short- just past the bend of the hook, then bounce these really slow with short hops in the rocks. It just makes sense that they'd get on dungies, too.

            Was out yesterday and I've never seen so many cod- no matter where we went from 30 feet out to 100. It was like trying to get past spiny dogfish in Puget Sound. If you had any bait out at all, you codded up almost instantly. Eliminating all bait helped some, but you still had to wade through a lot of whisker lips to get a halibut.
            "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
            Merle Haggard

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            • #7
              BrownBear-
              Where were you fishing yesterday (what body of water)???
              Cliffhanger
              http://www.farnorthpress.com/

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              • #8
                We were off Kodiak.
                "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                Merle Haggard

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                • #9
                  Right now halibut in Cook Inlet go shallow to follow the herring and the hooligan. Both of these bait fish are running up the inlet near shore. A few guys in Clam Gulch and North Kenai will gillnet herring for bait, and they should have some for sale pretty soon. Saw a 65# halibut on April 30 caught in 30' of water while trolling kings. Hooligan are being caught around 20 mile river.
                  I usually will open up the stomach of a larger butt to see what they are eating. Most of the time it is herring, shrimp, small crab, whole small cod and sand lance or needlefish.
                  I've been dying to try the small fake crab as bait, awesome tip.

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                  • #10
                    After catching a 210 pound halibut while anchored off green island in 20 feet of water I found seven dungeness crabs in its belly, AFW in anchorage had small plastic crab squeek toys for dogs I bought the ones they had and they work as good as a B2 jigged n the bottom but after two or three fish they fell apart. I would buy more if I could find them again.

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                    • #11
                      Halibut spawn in the winter with peaks for December through February. Most spawning takes place off the continental shelf in deep waters of 200 to 300 fathoms. Females lay two to three millions eggs annually, depending on the size of the halibut. Males and females mature 7-8 and 8-12 years, respectively.

                      Fertilized eggs hatch in about fifteen days. Free-floating eggs and larvae float up to 6 months and are transported up to several hundred miles by currents of the North Pacific Seas. During the flee-floating stage, many changes take place in the young halibut, including migration of the left eye to the right side of the fish. Eventually as the young halibut are carried into shallower waters by prevailing currents, they begin life as bottom dwellers.

                      Younger halibut, up to 10 years, are highly migratory and generally migrate in a clockwise direction east and south throughout the Gulf of Alaska. Older halibut tend to be less migratory.

                      Halibut live a long time. Females grow faster and live longer than males. The oldest recorded female was 42 years old and the oldest male was 27 years old.

                      Halibut are opportunistic feeders, using whatever food is available. Being strong swimmers, halibut are able to eat a large variety of fish including cod, turbot, pollock, crab, and shrimp.
                      "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 270ti View Post
                        they like to eat baby dungies.. Around this time of the year, if you know the right spots, you can find the big halibut up close gorging on them..
                        Some of the ones we cuaght this weekend puked crabs and ton of 1.5" minnows...couldn`t tell the species of either but I will echo the fact that they will follow the most abundant food source throughout the year be it shallow or deep. I don`t have much luck tracking them down in Seward but are very predictable in Cook Inlet.
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                        Heavy Hitter Fishing
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                        Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle Pro-Staff

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                        • #13
                          Here in Yakutat the herring just got done spawning. The halibut as a rule have been full, and not on the bite because of that. I fish shallow all year long, due to the structure we have that hold the fish. By shallow I mean 50 feet. I catch very nice fish here, in the shallows. I can't speak for Cook Inlet, but I bet if you got up on a hump and fished it through a few tides, you'd learn to fish it very well, and it would be good to you. Good Luck
                          http://www.glacierbearlodge.com/alas...experience.htm

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                          • #14
                            Alot of good sized Halibut live in the shallow waters of the kelp beds. Lots of good forage food to be found there. I do 90% of my Halibut fishing in 120' of water or less, and we always get a 100# fish or better every year, plus lots in the 40# to 60# range.
                            I've caught two fish in the mid 100's and both were in less than 75' of water. In fact, I question charters I go out with and will only fish with guys that know shallow water spots. It's no fun to fish deeper than 100' for me.
                            Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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                            • #15
                              I got 2 small halibut off the beach yesterday. Opened them up to see what they et. The 12 lber had small crab pieces in him. The 6 lber had one small (6 inch) mostly digested fish in him along with 3 or 4 sandlance in him. A few days ago I landed a good size Irish. He puked up a fist size crab and a unidentifiable fish about 7 inches long.
                              Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine! :whistle:
                              WWG1WGA! QANON

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