Alaska halibut fishing is the best in the nation.
The North Pacific is a very productive area. With a generally small human population, the pristine ecosystem supports large numbers of both predator and prey species. Pacific halibut are abundant in Sitka’s saltwater.
Adult Pacific halibut spend the winters in very deep water, sometimes beyond the continental shelf. They spawn very deep water in the winter, but begin migrating back to their usual summertime haunts in spring. By May, halibut fishing in Sitka is picks up and the fishing continues to get better all summer long and into fall.
Alaska halibut fishing regulations for the Sitka area fall into to two categories: Guided anglers, and unguided anglers. Generally, guided anglers may harvest one halibut per day that is either 50 inches long or less, or 72 inches long or greater. Unguided anglers may harvest two halibut per day of any size.
Halibut fishing can be done from either an anchored boat, or while drifting with the current. In the Sitka area, most halibut are caught from anchored boats. Halibut are caught on a variety of baits including herring, pink salmon parts, octopus and squid rigged on circle hooks. Jigs are also highly effective. Some popular jigs include the Kodiak Custom Halibut Jigs, large lead-head jigs in the 8- to 16-ounce range adorned with 8- to 10-inch rubber grubs, and metal jigs such as large Crippled Herring jigs. Many boats will fish both jigs and bait at the same time. The bait draws in fish due to its scent drifting down current. Some fish will bite the baits. Others drawn to the scent but will bite the jigs.
For Alaska halibut fishing, regardless of whether you fish bait or jigs, anchored or drifting, it’s important to fish your offering on or close to the ocean floor, as that’s where halibut spend most of their time. Note that halibut will rise off the bottom to eat both baits and jigs; sometimes it pays to bring your offerings 5- or 10 feet off the bottom periodically.
Halibut are caught both inside Sitka sound in protected water as well as outside the Sound in the open ocean. However, as long as weather permits, halibut fishing is generally more productive outside the Sound. The entire west side of Kruzof Island from Salisbury Sound in the north to Cape Edgecumbe in the south is a productive area. Similarly, the west side Biorka Island can also be productive.
If Alaska halibut fishing is on your radar, fishing out of Sitka is hard to beat. What’s more, being located smack-dab in the middle of the West Coast’s salmon superhighway, combo trips generally provide a bountiful harvest of both salmon and halibut, with lingcod and rockfish providing additional variety.