How to Land a Big Halibut

By on January 28, 2014

WHEN YOU GO HALIBUT FISHING YOU BETTER HAVE A PLAN ON HOW TO GET IT IN THE BOAT. There are a lot of halibut that are lost at the side of the boat by inexperienced halibut fishermen and it’s not just the big ones that get away.  20-Pounders get lost too, because when you break their nose out of the water they go crazy.

Successfully getting a big Alaskan halibut in the boat starts with the hook up.  You will have a much better chance of landing a halibut with a well set hook that hasn’t been compromised by needless pole jerking or using an exceptionally heavy drag.  I’ve discussed playing the halibut in the previous post so lets discuss what to do with the halibut now that you have her to the boat.

I CAN SEE THE FISH – Once you see the fish, stop for a second and loosen the drag a little bit more – things tend to break at the surface.  Wait don’t reel yet, stop and think, “am I ready to secure this fish, do I have a plan”?  If you don’t have a plan on how to secure this halibut and get it in the boat, now would be a real good time to start one.  Remember once you break that halibut’s head above the water, all hell is going to break loose (unless you really have her worn out).  Following are several proven techniques for landing your halibut.

Just gaff it works OK with smaller fish up to about 30 lbs but you have to be quick and well practiced.  After you stick the halibut she’ll give you about 3 seconds to get her in the boat before she starts arching and shaking her head.  I’ll gaff halibut up to about 60 lbs without the aid of other devices but I’ve done this a lot and don’t recommend it for the occasional halibut fishermen.  Beware of using wooden handle salmon gaffs, a big halibut will straighten out the cheaper ones.

Using a shark hook with a 1/2″ or 3/8″ line attached to the boat is a very effective way to secure a halibut but it helps if they are worn out first because you need to run the shark hook through their jaw.  This means that the halibut has to calmly lay there while you perform this surgical act.  It’s really not as hard as it sounds and a well played halibut will actually lay there and let you do this but be ready for an explosion after you’ve run the hook through her lip and keep tension on the line while she wears her self out.  Then you can haul her in or better yet, slit her throat and tie her tight so her nose is out of the water.  Bringing live halibut on board a small boat is dangerous.

A halibut harpoon works awesome.  You don’t have to get close to the fish and it doesn’t have to be worn out.  Simply tie the end of the line to the boat then shove the harpoon tip through the halibut just below the head and gill plate.  You must make sure you’re hitting the fish at a 90 degree angle for this to work because the harpoon must go all the way through the halibut.  Trying to harpoon a halibut at a poor angle can lose a fish while possibly mortally wounding it, the worst of all scenarios.  I use a buoy on my harpoon line to take up some of the shock and keep things from breaking.  This will also wear out the fish faster as she fights to take the buoy under.  When she’s worn out pull her to the boat with the harpoon line and use a gaff  and/or shark hook to actually bring her in the boat so you don’t rip the harpoon tip out and lose the fish.

Shooting halibut works well if your a good shot.  A 410 caliber shot gun (snake charmer) with bb’s works best because you can put the barrel close to the fish ensuring a good shot.  Bang sticks also work well but these options cost more money and won’t be provided in a self guided boat.  Once the fish is shot just above the eye’s, gaff it and haul it in.

Posted in: Jeff's Blog

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