Alaska lingcod are an extraordinary sportfish. They attack bait and lures aggressively, they are both fearfully ugly and strangely handsome at the same moment, and they produce a snowy white fillet that rivals only halibut among the tastiest in the sea. Hook into a 30 pounder on a salmon rod and you’ll wonder who’s gonna win the ensuing tug-of-war.
Certain fish species are legal to use in southeast Alaska’s saltwaters for live bait. To quote from the southeast Alaska regulations, “Unless provided for in this section, fish taken under sport fishing regulations may not be used as bait, except:
– Herring, chum salmon, pink salmon, and whitefish may be used as bait, and:
– Species for which bag limits, seasons, or other regulatory methods and means are not provided in sport fishing regulations, as well as:
– The head, tail, fins, closely trimmed skeleton, and viscera of legally taken sport fish, may be used as bait.Live herring and other species for which no seasonal or harvest limits are specified in sport fishing regulations may be used as live bait, except that live fish may not be used as bait for sport fishing in fresh water.”
Based on these criteria, greenling are legal to use as live bait in the saltwater when fishing for Alaska lingcod. In a two-day window in the middle of August, we recently brought at least ten lingcod to the surface using a greenling as bait. It was AMAZING! None of the lingcod were actually hooked, each came as a hitchhiker attached to one of their favorite meals.
Drifting over the rock piles in Yakutat Bay, our goal was to first hook a greenling. Once we brought one over the rail, rigged it up and sent it down, the action nearly instantaneous. The trick for the angler was to maintain bottom and get the greenling a few turns off the bottom to avoid snagging in the very grabby structure. Once there, gently jigging the greenling brought on the attack. Several times several lingcod came to the surface together. Often, a lingcod would let go halfway up, only to come right back and clamp on.
On one of the drops, a particularly big fish grabbed the bait. We thought Brian was fighting a giant Alaska lingcod. After an epic ten-minute battle, a 60-pound-plus halibut emerged from the cloudy depths, clamped down on the greenling. Like all the lingcod, that fish never felt the sting of the hook, as the greenling candy was enough to keep them latched on tight.
There’s something particularly natural being part of the big fish eating the little fish food chain.
Head out to Yakutat Lodge now and catch giant halibut, snarly lingcod, black rockfish and coho. Silvers are being caught in the Situk River and in Yakutat Bay. There’s plenty of room and great fishing to be had.
Jigging for Halibut: The Jig Life
By Marcus Weiner
Jigging for halibut is one of my favorite things to do. I’m that guy on the halibut boat that rarely puts his rod down, except when traveling from spot to spot, or when taking fish pictures. Yo-ho-ho, it’s the jig life for me.
Most anglers have the sense to bait a circle hook, drop it to the bottom, reel up a few turns and put it in the rod holder. They enjoy the fruits of interesting conversation, spotting marine mammals, enjoying the epic scenery and enjoying a relaxing day on the water. Some even take a nap and wait for a bent rod before waking.
There’s something utterly satisfying in thumping a jig off the bottom of the ocean. I can envision the sound wave traveling far and drawing halibut from distance. Often, especially with big, lead-head jigs with magnum grub tails, I’ll add a chunk of herring and disperse some scent. Slather the jig in sauce, and my choice is Pro Cure’s Butt Juice Super Gel, drop that bad boy to the bottom, and begin to call in the flatfish.
Once the work of bringing them to the scent has ended and there are ‘butts under the boat, then the jig really shows off. Magnum grub tails ripple in the current and truly look alive. Try fishing one once the tail has been bitten off and you won’t scratch a fish. Add a fresh tail and hold on tight. On the upstroke or downstroke, halibut often display apex predator tendencies with the intent of eating that live critter that just happens to be your jig.
Having the rod in your hands, working your lure to make it look alive, feeling the bite, missing and nailing some, fighting fish of all sizes and occasionally losing them when the hook wallows a hole or you momentarily lose tension, is all part of the jig addiction. And in my experience, jig rods in the hands of focused jiggers will usually catch more fish than bait rods.
I just spent five days jigging for bottomfish at Yakutat Lodge and got home 13 hours ago. I brought a Santiam two-piece halibut travel rod, Okuma Metalloid 5 reel spooled with 300 yards of KastKing KastPro 80-pound-test braided line, a box of jigs including 8-ounce Ahi USA Live Deception and 10-ounce Kodiak Custom Bottomfish Jigs, some Eagle Claw Trokar Pro V Octopus 8/0 hooks, split rings, Sampo swivels, split ring pliers, KastKing braid scissors and Pro-Cure Super Gels (Octopus, Saltwater Formula, Butt Juice and Herring). I mixed in a 12-ounce leadhead jig with green, motor oil or glow grub tails, and the game was on!
Jigging for Halibut with Kodiak Custom Bottomfish Jigs were the star of the show. I landed the biggest fish of the trip, scaling around 90 pounds, on a 10-ounce with a white and blue hootchie skirt. The next day, this same jig was on my rod, sitting in the rod holder a few cranks off the bottom while I was taking pictures of a big, bruiser lingcod that Brian landed. The motion of the boat moved the jig, my rod buckled over with the force of a big halibut, and Kraig had his hands full for the next 15 minutes until the rowdy brute broke the line. That might have been the biggest fish of the trip.
The most memorable was the last. Brian had brought a solid 35-pounder to the surface and was taking underwater pictures of it with his Osmo Pocket in a waterproof case. Instead of reeling in and clearing the deck, I kept jigging. Two minutes later the rod bent and a 70-pounder emerged from the depths on a 10-ounce Kodiak Custom Bottomfish Jig with a pink hootchie skirt. We ended the trip with a great fish and underwater pics of the two halibut together.
If you like to jigging for halibut and want to catch some lingcod, rockfish and salmon, pack your bags and head to Yakutat Lodge. The season is ramping up to an epic conclusion as silvers begin to flood into Yakutat Bay and add to the bounty of bottomfish waiting for jiggers to stick. Come out in mid August and you’ll find me in my usual spot, one of the back corners on the stern, bouncing bottom and living the jig life.
Alaska fishing trip planned for June each year at Yakutat Lodge begets a saltwater fisherman’s paradise. The days are long, weather is about as good as it gets, it’s one of the driest months of the year in this southeast Alaska rainforest, and saltwater fishing is heating up. The steelhead have come and gone in the Situk River, king salmon are milling around Yakutat Bay, halibut can be found in numbers and bottom fishing for rockfish and lingcod is heating up. Your Alaska fishing trip at this time of the year puts you on a trajectory to experience hard-fighting saltwater fish, in protected and calm water, within 10 miles of the boat launch from Yakutat Lodge on the Bay. As the month continues, sockeye salmon begin to arrive in the Situk River, and anglers who want to float the Situk, or walk-in for DIY angling, will have their shot to fight chrome missiles who’s strength outpaces their size. All this can be had when you plan your Alaska fishing trip to Yakutat Lodge in June.
A normal day on the saltwater gives you the chance to catch multiple species of fish. If you are looking for bottomfish, then our experienced captions will take you to known hot-spots, anchor the boat and set you up to either jig lures or soak bait for bottom-dwelling halibut. These fish average from 30- to 40 pounds, with some eclipsing the 100-pound mark, are very strong, aggressive and will put any angler to the test. If you prefer to work a metal jig, then bouncing that jig off the bottom will serve to attract halibut and cause them to attack. At Yakutat Lodge, we are equipped to allow you to either jig or soak bait, and both will yield fish. Halibut are among the best-tasting fish in the Pacific Ocean, and in most cases, one of the rewards of your Alaska fishing trip is a box of tasty fillets to bring home to enjoy throughout the year.
Rockfish are another type of fish targeted by anglers at Yakutat Lodge. There are over 30 species of rockfish that swim in Alaska’s waters, and several species are caught in Yakutat Bay. They can be broken into two families – pelagic (mid-water) and non-pelagic (bottom-dwelling). At Yakutat Lodge we target pelagic rockfish, and have a healthy population of black rockfish that are above-average in size. These delicious-tasting fish are found in large schools and provide great action on light tackle. Exotic and colorful non-pelagic species like quillback and China are also fairly common.
Lingcod are a fearsomely ugly, incredibly toothy predator that can be found near rock pinnacles in Yakutat Bay. These fish can reach impressive sizes, and have been known to latch onto a rockfish being brought to the surface. They will attack a jig and fight hard; the reward is an amazing picture of a strange-looking apex predator and a nice pile of delicious white-meat fillets.
King salmon can be found swimming in the protected waters surrounding Yakutat and are most commonly caught by trolling herring, anchovies, or spoons, behind flashers, while using downriggers. They are an amazing species, the state fish of Alaska, and often on the bucket list of Alaskan anglers. If king salmon are in the area, your knowledgeable captains can target traditionally productive areas and give you a chance to fish for the largest Pacific salmon species while on your Alaska fishing trip.
As the month comes close to an end, sockeye salmon begin to arrive in fishable numbers on the Situk River. Action heats up into July, but if the sockeye have pushed into the Situk in June, then the river guides of Yakutat Lodge can add sockeye angling to your Alaska fishing trip agenda. Sockeye are prized for their incredible fighting ability—often referred to as the pound-for-pound strongest salmon—as well as their deep-red, firm and succulent fillets.
Planning Alaska fishing trip to Yakutat Lodge in June is a great choice. From multiple species in the saltwater, to long days, good weather and the chance to intercept the first sockeye salmon of the year, we’ve got you covered at Yakutat Lodge. Our captains and guides will get you on the fish, and our fish processing team will fillet your catch, vacuum pack it and box it for your flight home. Come to Yakutat Lodge in June for your Alaska fishing trip and leave for home with great memories, photos and great-tasting fish to enjoy until you come back again.
Alaska halibut fishing rallies anglers from all over the world in pursuit to bring home the moist, flakey texture of halibut that are abundant in Alaskan waters.
Pacific halibut are among the largest fish swimming in Alaska and are the largest member of the flatfish family. An average halibut is about 25 pounds, and the Alaska state record is 459 pounds. So these fish get BIG! Halibut are a firm, white-meat fish, and are among the highest-quality table fare of all the fish species. They are strong, fun to catch, and produce a lot of edible meat. On average, about 2/3 of a halibut is boneless fillets, making for lots of meals to be enjoyed all year long.
Halibut migrate from deep water in the winter, into shallower water in the late spring, where they stay until late fall growing larger. They feed on herring, salmon, octopus, cod, and probably just about anything they can fit in their mouth. It’s during this time period that anglers target the species. In many coastal communities around Alaska, halibut are targeted in 100- to 400 feet of water. Tides are generally large in Alaska, so that many charters and private sportfishermen are most productive as the tide weakens. They find that the two hours on either side of slack tide is generally the time to catch them.
Halibut are highly olfactory based, so setting up on anchor and putting out a scent trail is always a good way to ring the dinner bell. It’s not unusual to wait for a few hours without activity until the halibut finds your bait, and then experience steady action. Other times it seems that the ocean floor is littered with hard-pulling flatties, and the bites happen as soon as the bait or jig gets near the bottom.
Two methods are generally employed to catch halibut: bait, weight and wait for a bite or jig. It’s our general experience that scent brings the fish to the boat and jigs entice them to bite. It’s also generally accepted that pounding a jig on the bottom sends off a sound wave that also brings halibut in to investigate.
Since Alaska halibut can reach huge proportions, anglers generally use stout rods, big reels and strong lines. When fishing bait—which is usually herring, salmon parts that are legal to use like heads, cod, and octopus—many anglers use large circle hooks and heavy weights to hold the bait on or near the bottom. It’s not uncommon to see 16/0 circle hooks and 16- to 20 ounces of lead employed when fishing for these oversized predators. When fishing jigs, 12- to 24-ounce jigs, either lead head with grubs or long, thin slabs of metal, are the most commonly used lures. Both techniques require stout rods and strong reels. Halibut are apex predators and will chase and smash a jig with ferocity.
Yakutat offers a premium location to fish for halibut and the charter captains at Yakutat Lodge know how to put you on the fish. Fishing is done within 15 miles off the dock, which makes for a very short boat ride to the fish. This is usually not the case in most ports around Alaska.
Alaska halibut fishing is done in Yakutat Bay, which is normally a fairly calm body of water, making it very well-suited for novice ocean anglers and those that are prone to seasickness. Halibut can normally be found in 80- to 150 feet of water which makes fishing and bait checks a manageable task. Many locations around Alaska demand feature deeper water fishing spots, which can be difficult and tiring to fish for these oversized bottom dwellers.
Yakutat Lodge also knows how to help you catch other types of bottomfish when out on the saltwater. Yakutat Bay holds lingcod, which are aggressive, predatory fish that are awesomely ugly and marvelously delicious. It also holds several species of pelagic rockfish, and catches of large, black rockfish are common. These additional species provide added action and excellent table fare.
A tertiary bonus to fishing in Yakutat Bay is the chance at catching a king salmon. King salmon roam the waters around Yakutat, and while not a guarantee, when they are present they can often be caught. The largest salmon species in Alaska, king salmon are on many angler’s bucket-species list, and are both rewarding to catch and excellent to eat. While bottom fishing is typically done on anchor or while drifting, fishing for king salmon is most typically done while trolling.
Come to Yakutat Lodge and experience Alaska halibut fishing for yourself! Enjoy the variety and bounty of our near shore saltwater fisheries. You won’t have to endure a long boat ride, big seas, strong tides or deep water. Rather you can catch limits of delicious fish that pull hard and are amazing to catch. We will provide all the tackle and bait, teach you how to catch these varied species, fillet the fish and pack them up for you to take home and enjoy for the rest of the year. See you here!
Steelhead fishing on the Situk River is nothing short of adrenaline-drenched chaos. These sea-run rainbow trout are near the pinnacle of sportfish in Alaska, and once hooked, you will soon understand why. Their Olympian-like athleticism, strength, agility and endurance will leave even the most seasoned with an ear-to-ear grin. There are a wide range of techniques and lures that anglers use, and it pays to have a variety of presentations in your tool kit so that you can be prepared to find the hot offering. Learn the best methods of how to fish for steelhead on the Situk.
International Sportsmen’s Expo
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1600 Exposition Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95815
Washington Sportsmen’s Show
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Washington State Fair Event Center
110 9th Ave SW
Puyallup, WA 98371
Steelhead trout are among the very top of the gamefish list for many coldwater anglers. They aggressively attack fly and lure alike and fight with amazing athleticism and power. They grow to substantial sizes — a 15-pound steelhead in the Situk River is not uncommon; the Alaska state record was caught in 1970 and was an amazing 42 pounds, 3 ounces.
Like Pacific salmon, steelhead are anadromous. They are born in freshwater and head to the ocean to grow, spending most of their lives in the ocean, and returning in either the spring to spawn and return back to the salt chuck, or coming back in the fall to overwinter, spawn and head back to the sea. In general, they live about three years in freshwater before migrating to the sea, and then spend an average of another two years in the saltwater before heading back to the river of their birth to spawn. Some steelhead return to spawn multiple times within their life.
International Sportmens Expo
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WestWorld of Scottsdale
16601 N Pima Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Pacific Northwest Sportsmens Show
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Portland Expo Center
2060 N Marine Dr
Portland, OR 97217 Continue reading “Shows & Expos we’re attending in 2019”