Alaska Halibut Fishing

Alaska Halibut Fishing

A successful day of Alaska Halibut Fishing at The Kenai Riverside Resort
Matt Flanders holding a 70 lb Halibut caught in Homer, Alaska

Alaska halibut fishing needs to be a part of everyone’s fishing trip to Alaska. Alaska is home to one of the largest populations of pacific halibut in the world. These fish reside in the cold deep waters of the Pacific during the winter and migrate into the shallower waters of Cook Inlet, Kodiak Island, and the barren islands following the migration of salmon. This area of Alaska is known as the halibut capital of the world – and for good reason. When it comes to Alaska fishing these Alaska halibut fishing trips are among the favorite of all our guests.

Cook Inlet experiences some of the biggest tidal moments in the world at nearly 30 feet maximum swing on certain days of the year. The halibut lie dormant on the sandy and gravel bottom during these big flows of current that happen every 6 hours. When the water slows these mighty fish start hunting primarily using their sense of smell.  Depending upon conditions and water depth we will often use a chum bag to put a large scent trail in the water. Halibut are aggressive and they will follow this scent trail great distances.  

When The Bite Is On

This slowing of the water is known as slack current and it’s generally the best time to fish. We will fish what is known as both sides of the slack tide. As the current is rushing in and begins to slow we’ll anchor up, drop the chum bag, and use weights up to 4 pounds to get the circle hooks baited with herring to the bottom. Many times this will be hundreds of feet deep, other times we might just be fishing in 40 feet of water. 

Soon the inrushing current will begin to slow and eventually stop allowing us to use less and less weight as it slows. Eventually the current will begin to pick up again but this time flowing the opposite direction and we’ll find ourselves gradually adding more weight to keep the bait on the bottom. When the current is flowing at it’s maximum again it will be difficult to keep the bait on the bottom and we’ll start heading back to port – hopefully with limits of halibut. 

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50 lb Homer Halibut
50 lb Halibut caught in Homer, Alaska

The halibut fishery is managed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission in an international agreement that balances both harvest and conservation with a number of countries. As a result there are rules and regulations that this fishery in the areas of Cook Inlet, Homer, Kodiak Islands, and The Barren Islands that we fish.

Halibut Season: March 14 – November 15

The most noteworthy 3A Alaska halibut fishing regulations are:

  • No charter halibut fishing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (private boats are okay)
  • 2 halibut per person per day, one of any size and one usually under around 32 inches (about 14 pounds)
  • Annual limit of 4 halibut caught on a charter trip

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About Our Halibut Trips

Kenai Riverside Resort offers full-day single and multi-species trips on our Alaska halibut fishing trips.

On our multi-species trips, we can target halibut, salmon, rockfish, and lingcod. What we target is mostly dependent upon the time of year, what species are available at the time, and season regulations. A fishing license is required as are your own drinks and snacks.  It’s important to bring layered clothing for both sun and rain on these trips.  All the tackle, bait, and filleting of your fish is provided as part of our service and your catch will be vacuum sealed and frozen when you return to the resort.

We prefer to specialize in longer-range trophy fish hunts and targeting multi-species. While we don’t like to promise fish halibut limits are common and the last few years of yellow-eye rockfish have been phenomenal.  Saltwater salmon are available year-round.

Likely To Be One Of The Biggest Fish You’ll Ever Catch

Your Alaska halibut fishing trip will be out of either Ninilchik utilizing the tractors for a beach launch or out of the Homer harbor depending upon which waters we elect to fish. Homer is located about a 90-minute drive south of our resort. 

If you’ve never done this before, have no fear. Your captains and crew have taken out many first-timers and will patiently and professionally teach you what you need to know for a successful day of fishing. You’ll have the hang of it in no time – this is coming from experience. 

We will primarily use herring on circle hooks during your trip although if we are in deep water we may use jigs. Herring and circle hooks are great terminal tackle because there is no effort required to “set the hook”. Usually, the halibut strike the bait and as it attempts to swim off, the aggressive action, lead weight, and shape of the hook generally sets firmly.  That doesn’t mean our bait doesn’t get stripped, because often it does, but when the hook gets set it’s usually a pretty firm one.

Please don’t forget to check out all the great halibut recipes you can try with all that beautiful white fish! Especially our recipe for wasabi halibut.

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Halibut Facts & Figures

  • When halibut are first hatched they have eyes on both sides of their head.  At about 5 weeks one of the eyes starts to migrate until both eyes are on the same side of the fish.  At this time the halibut will spend the majority of its life at the bottom of the ocean with two eyes looking upwards for both prey and predators.
  • It takes almost 8 years and around 25-30 pounds before male halibut are sexually mature and 11 years for female halibut. They spawn during the winter months in very very deep water. They can lay upwards of 3000 to 4000 eggs at a time depending upon the age and size of the fish.
  • A halibut’s age is determined by examining the ear bone which will have growth rings similar to a tree for every year of life
  • Halibut market prices are usually upwards of $25.00 per pound. An 80 lb halibut will yield about 40 lbs of fillet or $1000.00 in market price fillets. That’s a nice day of fishing and really great food for the table. We’ve had people return home with hundreds of pounds of halibut fillets from a single day of Alaska halibut fishing.
  • Young halibut primarily feed on plankton while young and then begin to eat smaller fish and prey as they get older. Halibut eat a large number of herring, clams, and when we examine their stomachs during processing we often find crabs and mussels.
  • The survival rate for released halibut is quite high which can seem unusual for a deep bottom-dwelling fish. Halibut are different than say, rockfish, in that they don’t have a swim bladder and therefore do not suffer from barotrauma the way rockfish and other species do. Rockfish and other fish are sometimes caught while fishing for halibut and all Alaska vessels are now required to carry a deep release mechanism to help mortality on bycatch.
  • Small halibut less than 20 lbs can be lifted or netted into the boat, halibut between 20 – 100 lbs can be gaffed or harpooned, and then lifted into the boat, and halibut larger than 100 lbs are often shot to minimize damage to equipment and prevent injury when these large powerful animals are boated. The guns that are used are not like a handheld firearm but is a charge loaded into a rod that only fires when it strikes the halibut. 

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