Halibut are flatfish living in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic. It is a much loved food fish and also popular among sport fishers. Alaskan halibut attract fishing enthusiasts from all over the world since the Alaskan waters are home to the huge Pacific halibut, the Hippoglossus stenolepis.
Alaska halibut fishing is an important part of the Alaska tourism sector and there are many trip organizers to choose between. You can easily find a trip organizer that will cater for your specific needs and create the Alaska halibut fishing trip of your dreams; regardless of if you travel alone or is a part of a large group.
An adult Pacific halibut is brown with a speckled top. The belly is white or cream coloured. Unlike most other flatfishes, it has a characteristic tail. Other examples of Halibut species are the Atlantic Halibut (Hippoglossus Hippoglossus), the Australian Halibut (Parastromateus niger), the Californian Halibut (Paralichthys Californicus), and the Greenland Halibut (Reinhardtius Hippoglossoides). All the Halibut species belong to the family Pleuronectidae or right-eye flounders. These fishes have both their eyes on the right side of the head.
Alaska halibut fishing is popular due to chance of catching the gigantic Pacific halibut, a fish that can reach a weight that exceeds 500 pounds (230 kilograms). The length of the Pacific halibut can be more than 8 feet (2.4 meters). The male halibuts do not grow as large as the females and their weight seldom exceed 100 pounds. When you catch a really huge Pacific halibut during your Alaska halibut fishing trip, it is referred to as a “barn door”.
In the North Pacific, halibut has been commercially fished since the end of the 19th century. Halibut can be caught using a longline baited with pieces of octopus. Circle hooks are fastened to a weighted long line, commercially used longlines can extend for many miles. To ensure a large and healthy Pacific halibut population, the introduction of fishing regulations has been necessary. Halibut is not only found in the Alaskan waters; it inhabits the waters of Canada, Russia and Japan too.
The halibut fishery in the Pacific Ocean is governed by the IPHC – the International Pacific Halibut Commission. According to U.S. and Canadian regulations, it is unlawful for commercial fisher to catch Pacific halibuts smaller than 30 inches (76 centimetres). The reason behind this rule is the fact that halibuts matures slowly and must reach an age of at least eight years before they can begin to reproduce. When they have grown to a size of 30 inches, they are usually old enough to breed. Keeping a sustainable population of halibut is very important to Alaska since Alaska halibut fishing is a vital part of their tourism sector.
When halibut fishing in Alaska, sport fishers use rods and reels to catch this large fish and the line weights ranges from 80 to 150 pounds. It is important that you use high-quality equipment since the Pacific halibut is a very strong fish. It is not uncommon for sport fishers to shoot the biggest halibuts – those weighing more than 50 pounds/20 kilograms – before they are taken out of the water and into the boat. There are also other methods to subdue struggling fish.
The Pacific halibut spends a lot of time close to the bottom and is frequently found in waters no deeper than a few metres. It can dive down to a depth that exceeds several hundred meters and likes to spend a lot of time at great depths. When it is time to feed, it will usually move closer to the surface. Halibuts are opportunists and will eat virtually any animal small enough to fit into their mouths. Common preys include Trout, Salmon, Flounder, Octopus, Pollock, Cod and Crabs. In many habitats, the Pacific halibut is a top predator, or hunted by just a few species. In the North Pacific, halibuts can fall prey to Orca whales (Orcinus orca), Sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and Salmon sharks (Lamna ditropis).