Originally Posted by Tidahapah
As usual a great report.
like the Halibut fishing. Are they just slabs or do they put up a good fight.
What depth of water do you catch them in.
Depends on your definition of "fight." They are very strong and a large one can take line out like you wouldn't believe. But they aren't dramatic fighters like salmon, trout, steelhead, marlin, etc.
We hooked one today that was the strongest halibut I've ever encountered. I could stop her between runs (the big ones are all females) but I couldn't get any line back in to speak of. Then she would take off again. I could feel her shaking her head from time to time to try to get rid of the hook, a typical halibut behavior.
When I started worrying about her taking off all the line from the reel (Penn Senator 4/0) I had my wife start the boat and we tried following her as I reeled in. This worked for a bit but I suspect that between our and the fish's maneuvering we got the steel leader around a rock or something on the bottom. I feelt a couple of scraping jerks and the fish was gone. When I reeled in the steel leader had broken about halfway along its length.
We have no idea how large she was. She most certainly would have been too large to legally keep. But it would have been nice to get her to the boat for a photo.
In terms of depth halibut can be found from ten feet down to 300, 400 or even more in this area. The big one we hooked today was in abut 180 feet and then ran for deeper water. The maximum depth in the channel here is a bit over 1,000 feet. I don't know if halibut go that deep or not.
I use 80# braided Dacron line because the Penn Senator series of reels are not level-wind reels--- you do the level winding by moving your thumb back and forth as the line comes in. Our other halibut reel is also a big Penn but it has a level wind so it's loaded with a new-technology carbon fiber line. It's very thin and would probably cut my thumb up if I had to level wind it manually. I prefer the Senator because it has a faster retrieve and big handle so I continue to use "old technology" Dacron.
Regardless of the kind of line you use, it needs to have as little stretch in it as possible, preferably none. This is because it's the only way you can feel the weight hitting the bottom. Even in 300-400 feet of water, I can tell if I'm fishing over a softer bottom (mud or sand) or rock by the nature of the "shock" transmitted back up the line. That's why the Dacron or carbon fiber line. Monofilement fishing line has so much stretch to it there is no way you would ever know if the weight was tapping the bottom. (I know this because this is what I started out using for halibut many years ago. I very quickly learned better).
In this area people fish for halibut with jigs or bait. I used to use jigs because you don't catch any or many unwanted fish with them like rockfish or cod. However, after observing the kind of results people get with bait we switched over despite the fact it's harder work. In this area, bait outfishes jigs by a considerable margin.
So, exciting to catch? Not particularly other than the anticipation of seeing how big it is. A fair size to big one can be a lot of work to pump up to the surface, however. They remind me a bit of the aku (yellowfin tuna) we'd catch in Hawaii when I lived there. You catch them on the surface but they immediately sound and take half a reel's worth of line out with them. Then you pump them up to the top at which point they generally do it again and take most of the line you just worked so hard to get in back out again.
And then, of course, you have to get a halibut into the boat. In Alaska they shoot the big ones first before hauling them on board. They don't warrant that here, but we use a gaff designed for halibut and then you have to be very quick about stunning them right away or they can break stuff in your boat including you as they thrash around.
The fishing itself is a lot of work. You bounce a pound to a pound and a half jig or spreader bar weight off the bottom for up to several hours at a time. You can lose a lot of gear this way so besides the bouncing there is a fair amount of hauling your gear up to re-bait it or replace a jig that snagged on a rock that you had to break off, and so forth. I would not describe halibut fishing as any sort of relaxing.
The photo is the view from the driver's seat while halibut fishing. Unlike the photo, the rod is constantly in motion, moving the jig or bait up and down and tapping he weight against the bottom every few seconds to make sure the rig is working within a foot or two of it. The bend in the rod is from the weight at the other end of the line.