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.
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.
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:
Make sure to check out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for halibut fishing full regulations
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.
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.