West Coast Pacific Halibut Turn On E-mail
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:54

The coastal Pacific Halibut opener in Washington is often times a short window of but a few days. It occurs in the spring, when the weather is inconsistent on the open ocean and mostly not ammenable to kayak fishing. This year was one of those rare years where the weather was ideal for last Thursday's opener, with many kayak anglers converging on Hobuck Bay, near the most northwestern tip of the continental United States. The weather was an overcast 60 degrees with hardly any wind or swell.

Brad Hole was the first to hook up. Having scouted the area a couple weeks prior, Brad had a plan. And his plan worked, resulting in an approximately 80 pound halibut on his first drop.

"That morning before driving to Hobuck, Todd and I jigged for sand dabs in Elliott Bay. We kept about 10 of them as bait for Hobuck. The paddle out to Strawberry Rock that morning, I had my spreader bar ready with an 80lb mono leader and 14/0 circle hooks; both through the sand dab. I dropped it down into 45 feet of water and didn't get two jigs in before the monster hit. The battle was about 15 minutes until I got it under the kayak. I spent the next five minutes moving it to the left side of the kayak to line up my harpoon. I was amazed at how motionless the fish just laid there. I took aim and the harpoon hit. Unfortunately, it didn't stick and with a face full of water and a couple hundred yards of line scream towards open water I followed the fish down. Blair (SeattleYakker) was near by and I gave a yell to him to grab my harpoon and floats dangling out of reach from me. He brought the harpoon out to where I was bringing up the beast. Again, I raised it to the side of the yak and made this one count. A lot of splashing and pulling down of the buoy and float. Things subsided and I hit it with the gaff and it thrashed more. It was at this moment that Roger (Dirk) came over to help me. I was able to lift the fish to my lap and he secured the tail. I lifted the fish around to the back of the PA and he tied the tail off to the back rail off the stern. The fish beat the deck for another hour. About an hour later I helped Roger gaff and secure his halibut and we mother shipped the to fish on the back of the PA on the beach. I'm a little green on the beach launch and land but managed to get the PA into shore without flipping 120 lbs of fish off the back. Roger's fish kicked off my only paddle into the water that I didn't notice until we were about to bring it in shore."

BradsButt

 

That was the beginning of 4 total halibut landed that day. A typical day here usually results in maybe 1 halibut for a group. Rory O'Connor is a veteran Washington Halibut fisherman, having landed a 71 pounder last year. He got the job done this day landing a 38 pounder.

I managed to hook up fairly quickly - about an hour after we started fishing. I hooked it in about 90 feet of water, right at the base of some steep structure that I was drifting back towards. I had to do a little horsing to keep him off it. The gaffing went OK except he didn't seem to prefer it...he went berzerk and almost slapped with me the gaff. When he was spent I was able to pull the gills and hog-tie him. I'd guessed around 40# at the time and was close - it was 38#. I thought it was a pretty nice one until I got back and saw that Brad had gotten an 80lb Halibut.


RorysButt  

 

See this video of Rory landing his 38 pound halibut.

The fourth halibut was caught by Bill Liston. A veteran of halibut trips to Foggy Bay, AK, Bill has a pretty good idea what he is doing. On this day he switched up to a smaller gulp lure mainly because it offers consistent action on smaller lingcod and rockfish. Imagine his surprise when a 45 pound halibut inhaled his offering.

BillsButt

But the Washington boys weren't the only ones getting the job done. Nate Olken in Oregon reported in with a halibut of his own, caught in the waters off Pacific City Oregon.

With good ocean conditions predicted throughout the day a few of us decided to follow the PC Dory fleet offshore on Friday to try to for some halibut. After an easy launch we dropped crab traps and started trolling our way to halibut grounds. Langcod hooked up a nice chinook, but unfortunately he had some issues getting it in his kayak and ended up not just losing his fish but his rod too. A few minutes after that I got slammed by a Chinook, that managed to snap my line while I was messing with my drag. That was it for salmon action. On our first drift over the halibut grounds I managed to hook a sole that was smaller than my bait. After reeling in our lines we headed north to the top of the drift to try again. Almost immediately after hitting the bottom I was hooked up. The fish was not the biggest but ever, only 35.25 inches long, but it put up a spirited fight, and only fed my desire to catch a bigger one.

NatesButt

See this video of Nate's unique style of "subduing" his halibut.

The success enjoyed by these kayak anglers is not just a matter of luck. They've put their time in (years) researching these fisheries and perfecting their techniques. I suspect we'll soon be seeing more and bigger fish from these guys.

 

 

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