Alaska is well known for vast wilderness, rugged mountains, beautiful blue glaciers, copious amount of wildlife, and fishing. Lots of fishing. From the massive salmon runs coming up the rivers during the summer to giant lake trout and northern pike from the depths of the many lakes that riddle the state, fishing is a way of life in the Last Frontier. However, one of the most highly sought after game fish swimming the waters surrounding the land of the midnight sun is none other than the great Pacific Halibut. These brutes are typically plentiful, easy to fish for, get massive in size and taste amazing! This makes the Halibut prized higher among all others when it comes to fishing the wild waters of Alaska.
Halibut are relatively easy to target. Since Halibut are notorious for eating anything that they can fit into their mouths, a variety of bait or jigs will work in enticing a bite. Smaller halibut feed mostly on crustaceans, but larger halibut feed on octopus, crabs, and other fish, including other halibut. Cut herring and squid are popular baits to use when targeting halibut. Halibut can be found anywhere from shallow water (summer time) to hundreds of feet deep. A friend of mine hooked and landed a 100 pound halibut in the Cook Inlet of Alaska in just 24 feet of water…. From a kayak! With the ripping currents and possible deep water, large weights are used to get and hold your bait on the bottom. Once a halibut does take the bait, the hard part is quick to follow. Wrenching a sizable fish up from the depths is no easy task, but is one that ends in some delicious table fare.
Halibut are flat fish that look similar to flounder, but the Pacific Halibut is the worlds largest flatfish. In July of 2014, a 482 pound Pacific Halibut was caught in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Halibut have a dark brown top side with a white bottom, giving them the ability to blend in with the ocean bottom. Just like a flounder, halibut have both eyes on the top side of their body, but they weren’t born that way. Just six months after birth, one eye of the halibut begins to migrate to the other side of its body, completing its flatfish transformation.
The most common reason that anglers target halibut is not only for their massive size, but for their outstanding deliciousness. The meat of a halibut is white, dense and firm making it suitable to being prepared in a number of ways. Grilling and frying are some of the popular ways to prepare this fish, but the recipes are limitless. However, due to its low fat content, the smoking of halibut isn’t quite as popular as their Alaskan game fish cousins. Due to its clean and great tasting meat, fresh halibut is best eaten with little seasoning at all.
Do yourself a favor. Go to Alaska. Book a halibut fishing charter. Feel the pull. Eat some amazing fish. Repeat.