The Grand Daddy of all flat fish is the Pacific Halibut in Seward, Alaska. Halibut will eat most anything that it can suck into its mouth including crabs, octopus and salmon and although halibut does move up and down in the water column in pursuit of herring, sand lance and rock fish it prefers to lie in wait on the bottom. Nature has given Seward, Alaska halibut perfect coloration for it’s role as master of the ambush. With a dark green skin on its top side that makes it invisible to fish unlucky enough to swim within range of it vise like jaws. Seward, Alaska halibut's white under side makes it blend in with the light from the surface when seen from below by Sea Lions are one of the few predators of adult halibut. This fish has patience as a virtue and a similar approach is the often the best course in landing one of these most prized and often times giant fish.
While sport fishing for Halibut they can be caught in as little as 30 feet of water and as deep as 350 feet. They have been caught commercially at up 2200 feet. Anglers are limited to 2 per day. The set up that we use most often is a circle hook on a commercial halibut leader or gangion with large chunks of herring or octopus as bait. Salmon carcasses can be used if you are targeting the largest fish. Most often we will only be using 1 or 2 pound weights to keep the bait on the bottom as the best fishing is done in places that have a good current flow. If you have never fished using circle hooks it requires a bit more finesse than a normal fish hook where you set the hook with a quick jerk upon feeling a bite. Halibut are deliberate in their consumption of things that they have caught. They will, for lack of a better description, chew their catch before swallowing it. All the time you can see that you have a fish on the end of your line. If you make an attempt to reel in your lunker before it has a chance to hook itself as it turns away from its meal it will be the story of the one that got away. If you can remain patient while the halibut savors your bait the circle hook will latch into a halibuts mouth in a manner that makes it impossible for the fish to become free. This waiting is much harder than it sounds. For those who need to set the hook themselves scampi jigs are also very effective on halibut but that technique of fishing is much more demanding physically.
The majority of halibut caught weigh in between 20 and 40 pounds with larger fish very often caught in the course of a days halibut fishing. Despite some of the boastful claims that you might have read or heard, everybody does not catch a 200 pounder everyday. Yet the next halibut you hook into will be the largest fish you ever caught in your life is a very real possibility. Halibut that weigh up to 60 pounds are universally considered to be the best eating. Halibut, being a very lean creature with a bright white flesh with no bones in their fillets. Halibut has excellent keeping properties. This means that fish that are properly processed and frozen will retain that just caught taste for nearly one year.
You never know what to expect while fishing for Halibut as they are very powerful fish and even a small 20 pounders have the strength to rip line from your reel. Since halibut sometimes feed on small fish through out the water column they can on occasion be coaxed towards the surface with a minimal of effort, do not be deceived by the apparent lack of resistance from your fish. Your halibut, at some point in it's journey will decide that he much prefers the comfort of the bottom and will head there with a determination that if you underestimate could leave you with an empty handed frustration.
Halibut are often caught while fishing for Seward, Alaska Salmon and Seward Rockfish with lighter tackle than normal used in targeting halibut. These battles often last an hour or more as the halibut makes numerous runs for the safety of the bottom and you are nearly powerless in your effort to control him on light tackle, only through using all of your skills will you win this epic battle between man and fish.