just fishing

Monsters of the Arctic – Alaskan Halibut

Alaska… The Last Frontier. The name conjures images of pristine mountains, rich temperate rainforests, fugitives from the lower 48 states running away to the rugged north in search of a new start, temperamental caffeine and nicotine fueled crab fishermen, gold and silver prospectors, modern day mountain men looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of civilization and Jack London inspired wanderers in search of adventures in one of the wildest places left in the world. With over 6,640 miles of coastline, more than all the coast of the continental United States combined, it is perhaps not surprising then that Alaska is home to some of the best saltwater sport fishing in North America. While King Salmon may attract more anglers to the state annually, serious Alaskan fishermen know that an angling excursion to Alaska isn’t complete without hooking onto a Halibut.

One of the world’s largest bony fish, Halibut are bottom feeding flat fish in the flounder family. In fact, they look an awful lot like a flounder that has been bombarded by gamma rays, as they are to flounder what the Incredible Hulk is to Bruce Banner. Reaching up to 8 feet in length and weighing in as much as 500 pounds, don’t make a Halibut angry. You wouldn’t like them when they are angry. They luckily don’t turn green though. If you catch a green fish off the coast of Alaska call National Geographic, because you’ve landed something no one else has ever seen.

Sport fishing for Halibut in Alaska is a tremendously popular activity. Halibut are powerful fighters and have a large yield of excellent, firm white flesh to eat. Those normally taken by anglers average 15-20 pounds, but fish up to 150 pounds are not uncommon. The state record for a Halibut caught on rod and reel weighed a scale breaking 459 pounds! Serious big game gear is needed to haul in Halibut. These bottom feeders are usually caught on bait, like herring, although squid, octopus and cod usually produce good results. Another reason Halibut is a favorite target of Alaskan fishermen is the delicious taste of its flesh, which can be prepared in a variety of ways, like grilling, deep frying or smoking.

A lot of tourists travel to Alaska on cruise ships, and several lines make port in areas loaded with chartered fishing guides that are available to take anglers out to try their hand at Halibut fishing. Even better, many charter services now work directly with the cruise lines, allowing passengers to start their fishing adventures as soon as they step off the cruise ship. Some charters even offer anglers the option of having their catch filleted, frozen, vacuum packed and boxed.

For any sport angler in search of a giant fishing experience, Halibut provide all the things one could want. A powerful fighting fish that will test even the heaviest gear, a monster of a catch even at average sizes making for spectacular photo opportunities with a fish that might be bigger than you are and a massive amount of delicious fish fillets from a single catch are just some of the reasons to try Halibut fishing in Alaska. Still searching for the Big Fish? Head north young man!

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