How to Catch Big Halibut
Halibut Fishing Secrets to Catch Bigger Halibut
1. Find Good Structure and Find Halibut
When in Alaska Fishing for Halibut, especially big halibut, no decision will have more impact than where you fish. It may seem simple, but if you are fishing for Halibut, in a place where there are lots of Halibut, you will certainly catch more fish.
So where do Halibut live? Halibut prefer bottom structure that has rapidly changing depth nearby. Shelves, Pinnacles, Trenches, and Rock Ledges are where you want to be. Use a depth finder, fish finder, maps and GPS, and other techniques to be sure that you know the bottom where you are anchoring.
2. Chum to Catch Bigger Halibut.
Halibut have an excellent sense of smell and use it to find food. When you anchor your boat your baits naturally put out a scent trail that attracts Halibut right to your spot. Scent is one of the most important things for halibut fishermen to target. Why not expand that scent trail with some chum on anchor, and pull the big ones in from farther away.
A simple, and deadly effective, technique is to attach a bag of chum to the anchor line right before setting anchor. Before you head out start your chum going in a bucket; simply take salmon scraps (heads and guts), older bait, fish trimmings, herring oil, herring parts, squid pieces, or anything else fishy and fresh that you have lying around from your last Salmon Fishing Trip and toss it in the bucket. Mix in some corn meal to bind and thicken it and then let it soak while you run out. Halibut like fresh bloody oily chum... so don't use any rotten stuff. When you get to your spot just fill a mesh bag from the chum bucket and tie it to the anchor line before dropping it down.
3. Use Big Bait when Fishing for Big Halibut
Alaskan's know that "Bigger Bait = Bigger Halibut." When charters out of Homer are looking to put big fish in the boat for the famous Homer Halibut Derby they put out big baits. Whole salmon heads and large chunks of Salmon are very popular as are stacks of Herring, and big Octopus Chunks.
Small "chicken" halibut will often not hit a big Salmon head, so when you do use big baits you will often get less bites. This is a good thing, because it allows the bigger halibut time to come in on your scent trail and take that big bait. When you get a hit on the Salmon head be prepared, its probably a fish that is 60lbs+ and likely MUCH MUCH BIGGER.
4. Catch More Halibut by Using Sharp Hooks
This is another one of those things that you think would be common sense, but is often forgotten. When you use hooks over multiple trips they dull. Sometimes even hooks straight out of the box can benefit from a quick sharpening. Halibut have tough mouths full of cartilage. A sharp hook is critical to make sure that you penetrate and hook into the big fish... especially if the bites are "short."
5. Try Scent Injection in your Halibut Bait
This is a secret that I almost wish I was not sharing because it is soooo effective at catching more and bigger halibut. Take your favorite fish scent... or some "juice" from your chum bucket and inject it into various places on your bait. Any cheap marinade injector for cooking does a great job. The injection allows the scent to thoroughly permeate the bait and to slowly seep out the injection holes leaving an irresistible scent trial right to your hook.
6. Fish Multiple Bait Types for Halibut
If you are out with some friends and have just put down anchor try dropping a few different types of baits to offer the halibut some options. I like to use a mixture of salmon, herring, and squid or octopus on the rods. If a Halibut has been feeding on squid earlier in the day he may be hesitant to hit your salmon, but that squid will be gulped down without a thought. This could also hold just as true for either of the other baits. When Fishing in Alaska use common sense. Naturally once you find that one bait type is working on that particular day it only makes sense to fish more rods with that bait.
7. Wait Before Setting the Hook on Big Halibut
Patience is a virtue. Many people loose a big halibut because they rip the hook and bait right out of there mouths before they have a chance to take it all the way in. Unless you are jigging, you want to give the halibut a chance to take the bait. After you feel the bite let out a little bit of line to allow the big flatfish to take in the bait. After a couple seconds set the hook and the battle is on. Wait a tad longer if using big Halibut Baits like Salmon Heads.