Alaska halibut fishing is a special experience. Halibut is a fish that’s found in the cold waters of the North Pacific and it’s one of the most sought after species by sport fishermen. This post will cover the basics about halibut fishing in Alaska and what you need to know to make the most of your trip.
1. The Best Time to Fish for Halibut
The best time to fish for halibut is during the spring and fall when the halibut spawn. Halibut are a cold water fish and will not tolerate the cold temperatures of winter. You need to be prepared for this, so make sure you have:
- warm clothes (including a hat)
- a sleeping bag or warm sleeping pad
- an emergency blanket or jacket
- warm boots
- a waterproof bag for your gear and tackle box
2. Where to go to fish for Halibut?
The most popular areas for halibut fishing are in the Bristol Bay area, Prince William Sound and Glacier Bay National Park. The best times to fish are in spring (March through May) and fall (September through November).
The best places to catch halibut are:
- Homer, AK – Homer Marine Center
- Petersburg, AK – Petersburg Fishery and Marina
- Kodiak, AK – Anchorage Fishing Charters and Kodiak Area Guide Service
3. What to bring during your Alaska halibut fishing?
You will need:
- your tackle box, fishing license, waterproof bag and a sleeping bag or other form of sleeping pad
- warm clothes (including a hat) and boots (if it’s cold)
- a thermos for hot drinks and food (or bring along some emergency snacks)
- food for the boat, including lunch, snacks, beer or wine.
Bring all your own drinking water on board the boat.
Bring toilet paper with you if you’re not sure that the toilets have been cleaned.
In some remote locations you may also be required to have a special type of waste disposal called “dry waste” that is sealed in plastic bags. You can buy this at any general store in Alaska. It is expensive but necessary to protect against disease and parasites that might infect marine mammals if their feces are not disposed of properly.
4. How to Catch Halibut
There are several ways to go about catching halibut. The most common method is trolling a bottom rig with a jig or live bait (fish such as herring or shad) on it. You can also cast for them with live bait attached to a line. The other way of catching them is using a longline. You need a commercial fisherman license to do this. There are also several charter boats that can help you catch halibut.
The Halibut is a bottom feeder and will eat almost anything it can find. They are also quite difficult to catch, so you will need to use several techniques, including:
- casting or jigging with live bait
- trolling for halibut with baited hooks or live bait
- trolling for halibut with artificial lures (like spoons)
When fishing for halibut, you need a line that is heavy enough to keep your bait or lure suspended in the water. This is known as “heavy sink” and it allows your bait or lure to stay where you cast it while at the same time allowing it to sink quickly when hooked by a fish.
Other things to think about before going:
1. If you’re planning on camping, make sure you have the proper equipment for the type of weather you might encounter. The weather can be very unpredictable in Alaska.
2. Bring a good pair of binoculars to help spot wildlife and other fish.
3. If you want to try for halibut, make sure that your boat has enough room for everyone on board, because it is not uncommon for fishing boats to be crowded.
After your Alaska fishing trip
We hope that these instructions will help you have an enjoyable and successful halibut fishing trip. Remember to pack warm clothes and footwear!
A word about Alaska:
It’s a great place to fish! Alaska is rich in wildlife, including whales, eagles, bears and salmon. There are many places where there is no fishing license required and others where there is only limited access available by request only.
Alaska halibut fishing is a great experience. Learn how to catch halibut and enjoy this experience.