As some folks say, we went fishing “just for the hal-i-but”. One of my bucket list items has been Pacific Halibut fishing in Alaska. These sea bottom dwelling fish can grow to be monster size, with a state record catch of 495 lbs. We signed up for a charter trip out of Valdez with Alaska Marine Guides. We went for a full day fishing trip on the 28 foot “Sea Master” with the owners’ son Wesley as our Captain. An Alaska Sports Fishing license was required for each angler. This is a serious fishing charter for people who want to catch fish. Bring your own drinks and food, they provide the boat, gear, bait and local knowledge.
We arrived at the boat in time for the 5:45am start. We boarded the Sea Master and headed out to sea. There were four other fishers on our charter, for a total of six. We traveled 110 miles, going through the Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska. The 2.5-3 hour ride out provided beautiful views of the Alaska coastal mountains. We saw a sea otter and some Orca whales. The weather for the day was beautiful with sunny skies and fairly smooth seas.
Our captain Wesley also doubled as the first mate, helping everyone get their lines in the water and landing fish into the boat. He hustled the entire day and did a great job. We were using a combination of Shimano and Penn International boat reels. For bait we used herring.
We anchored over a reef and set our lines to the bottom, about 150 feet down, with the help of the heaviest weights I’ve ever seen. Within a very short time, the fish started biting. Each person has a limit of one halibut over 28 inches in length. Karla quickly landed a halibut that was about 35 pounds and well over the 28 inch size. We had the choice to keep that fish or release it and try for a bigger one. Knowing that Mike could still get a larger fish but if he didn’t we would go home with some halibut, we decided to keep this one.
A bit later, Mike got a bite. His line did not seem to want to budge off the bottom and he thought at first he was snagged. Then he tugged it again and felt it pull back. It started to run, peeling line off of his reel. He spent the next 15 minutes dueling with his halibut. Here is a short video of his reeling process. But in the end he prevailed, hauling in a 105 pound monster.
We were also able to fish for yelloweye rockfish and black rock bass. The limit was two of each per person. We each limited out on these as well for a total of 8 rockfish/bass. These fish weighed in at about 8-15 lbs each and were fun but relatively easy to reel in. Karla also pulled in a second halibut that was about 55 lbs which was released.
Our entire group hauled in their limit and we headed back in. The ride in was just as scenic as the way out.
We got our fish filleted at the dock, where experienced hands made quick work of the haul, charging $2 per Rockfish/Bass and $8 per Halibut. That seemed like a bargain for me. We ended up with about 100 lbs of fillets! There are two businesses in-town that will further process your fish. We kept a reasonable amount of fresh fish to cook in the next couple of days. We had the rest of our haul cut up into one pound pieces, flash frozen and vacuum sealed. This will lengthen the time to use our fish.
We had a great time Pacific Halibut fishing and would recommend Alaska Marine Guides to anyone looking to fish out of Valdez.
Note: We did not receive any compensation or service for our review of Alaska Marine Guides.