Rockfish: A Black Bass Bonanza

Rockfish: A Black Bass Bonanza
angler holding black rockfish


We’d already had an epic day on the water catching big halibut and wrestling with several stout, toothy lingcod. In search of silvers, we drifted in Yakutat Bay deploying metal jigs and cut-plug herring to entice some salty coho.


In the distance we spotted some bird activity, followed by several salmon jumping clear of the water. Quickly we retrieved our lines and raced to the spot. As soon as the iron hit the water, the rod bent. A few seconds later a black rockfish broke the surface, followed by several others. On the next drop, another black rockfish ate the bait and then all hell broke loose.


At least 50 of them came to the surface in a shower of spray. Action was non stop as the anglers aboard the Happy Hooker brought keeper black bass over the rail. The largest weighed five pounds. On one drop, a large black rockfish ate the jig, while another laid on top of it, trying to eat the jig from its mouth. It was a wide open black bass bite.We sent an underwater camera down and got a look at the massive school of black rockfish. What an amazing experience!


Black rockfish are a very common species of pelagic fish in Alaska. They are fun to catch on light tackle, are very good to eat and are widespread across the Greatland’s saltwater. Currently in Yakutat, non-pelagic rockfish must be released, so our healthy population of pelagic black rockfish allows us to target these fish when you go out on the saltwater while staying at Yakutat Lodge.


Now is a great time of year to visit Yakutat Lodge. You can fish for halibut, lingcod, black rockfish and silver salmon in Yakutat Bay, or head to the Situk River to fish for silvers and Dolly Varden char. We’ve got room for you, come out and experience what makes Yakutat Lodge one of the best lodges in the state of Alaska.

Alaska Lingcod Candy

alaska lingcod in yakutat

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.”

alaska lingcod candy

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.

Fall Fishing Report 2020

Fall Fishing Report

As of 8/15/20, fishing at Yakutat Lodge continues to heat up. Halibut, lingcod and rockfish are abundant in Yakutat Bay and over the last week we boated many excellent fish. Halibut are biting jigs and bait fished just off sandy bottoms. Drifts over rock piles are yielding solid lingcod and black rockfish. The key to success is line management and fishing near the bottom, but keeping the jig off the bottom so as to avoid snagging up.

Coho fishing in the saltwater has been spotty so far, so we expect that fishery to pick up through the month. Once silvers are found in catchable numbers, then mooching for coho in the salt can yield lots of action, and big piles of succulent coho fillets.

Pinks are thick in the Situk River and make for great action. They are in prime chrome shape, love to eat pink lures and can be caught in large numbers. There are some big pinks in the river right now. This makes for a fantastic family fishery and is worth noting in this fall fishing report.

Coho are beginning to enter the river and limits are being caught on each trip, with the volume of coho increasing as you drift downriver. Spinners with grub tails, twitching jigs, and Dolly Llama fly patterns are producing quality fish. Fishing for coho on the river will continue to rapidly escalate.
Dolly Varden char are abundant and can be targeted behind schools of salmon. A bead dead-drifted to a group of dollies will usually elicit a bite. It’s a lot of fun to pick out an individual Dolly and try to catch it. Good polarized sunglasses with amber / copper lenses are a solid choice and critical to helping you pick out fish to target.

A trip to Yakutat Lodge this time of year allows you to capture a bounty of bottomfish and salmon, and experience both the river and the ocean. The fall fishing report will remain good until the end of September, come out and enjoy fall with us! To learn about steelhead fishing this spring or how the season has been the rest of this summer check out our blog.

Jigging for Halibut: The Jig Life

Jigging for Halibut: The Jig Life
By Marcus Weiner

jigging for halibut

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.

Not me.

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. 

jigging for halibut rod and jig

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. 

2020 Yakutat Fishing Report

2020 Yakutat fishing reportYakutat Lodge Fishing Report: July 4th, 2020

Hi all, we’re excited to bring you an updated 2020 Yakutat fishing report for the Situk River and Yakutat Bay. It’s been a hell of a summer so far with some challenges and hurdles that we are overcoming, but damn, the fishing has been good lately! Guests are hooking into big ocean-fresh king salmon and wild sockeye. The sockeye had us worried there for a bit, but just like steelhead season, we had a really slow start that kept on building. The sockeye were about two weeks late to show, but are now here in big numbers. The last count showed just over 17,000 sockeye and 300+ large kings with more behind them. The lower river is seeing some pressure from sport fishermen but the upper and middle have little to no pressure and with sockeye distributed throughout the entire system, it is making for easy pickings for our clients who are floating or enjoying a nice hike above 9-mile bridge. The fish this year so far have been on the smaller size but as the days go by the average size coming over the weir is increasing and hopefully by our next 2020 Yakutat fishing report we will start seeing those 6- to 9-pounders we are used to in really big numbers. Kings remain closed on the Situk however this year we are seeing more big fish than we have seen in several years by this time, and ADF&G is optimistic they will reach the short end of escapement this year. Dolly Varden and rainbow trout remain a bit on the elusive side this season so far, but if you’re willing to put in the work and effort, several can be brought to hand on a daily basis.

Water levels are finally beginning to drop as the mountain runoff begins to slow with the summer weather. It was a wetter June than we have been used to seeing in the past couple of years and river levels have remained in the low 200s for most of the month which makes for a nice easy row but as mentioned before, the river is slowly dropping down to our average summer flows. Sockeye daily limits remain at three for the time being but, if we continue the trend of numbers we’re seeing we may be in for bag-limit increases.

Now onto the salt 2020 Yakutat fishing report.

Yakutat is known worldwide for the Situk River, but many people do not know that Yakutat Bay hosts one of the finest saltwater fisheries in Alaska. We have been running two boats almost daily for the past few weeks, and with Captains Larry and Jeff at the helm you can be guaranteed a fantastic day. Halibut fishing has been very good and clients have been finishing up with the ‘butts in the early mornings, giving them plenty of time to focus on the other species such as king salmon, lingcod and black rockfish. King salmon fishing has been absolutely incredible in the bay this year. Guests are typically bringing home a few every day and with the insane amount of feed available in the bay this year, they are coming across the dock nice and fat. The lings have been pretty chompy lately. One of our groups brought back a limit of 50-inch-plus lings just yesterday! As we advance further into the summer we can only expect things to get better by the day.

As a reminder, all guests arriving from out of state are still required to arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel. Reports from our clients who have joined us so far this year have said that the travel end was pretty seamless and finding testing sites is getting easier by the day. The state of Alaska has a website—COVID19.ALASKA.GOV—that can answer all your questions about travel in detail as well as an interactive map showing all the testing sites located near you. If you’re looking for a break from the craziness in the world, remember we’re just a short flight out of Seattle away and we would love to have you come join in the fun with us this summer.

Kraig Holdren

Steelhead Fishing Report: Once in a Lifetime

steelhead fishing report

Written by Kraig Holdren

The steelhead fishing report for the Situk River has thousands of anglers traveling from all over the world to have an opportunity to get their hand at those numbers. Every guide has wondered what it would be like to have their own steelhead stream to themselves. Don’t get me wrong, as guides we love what we do. We love to teach and share our passions with others, but in reality, we would all rather be just fishing. 

Steelhead Fishing Report situk river alaska

As we all know, the pandemic caused by the coronavirus has affected us all in many different ways. For us in Yakutat it was a hell of a crushing blow. Steelhead fishing on the Situk is world renowned, and anglers from all over the state, country and world visit Yakutat each year to take advantage of its crystal-clear waters and rich run of native steelhead. Due to the fear of spreading the virus the State of Alaska quickly instituted a travel ban which not only affected our out-of-state clients but also our in-state anglers as well. That, coupled with The City of Yakutat’s mandatory quarantine, pretty much made it impossible for anyone anywhere to fish here, except a few local fishermen who made the best of a shitty situation. I wanted to write this article as a way of answering that same question that I think every guide and client has asked: “What would it be like to have the Situk River all to yourself?” Well, let me tell you…It was good. 

As a full-time resident of Yakutat, I get to take many liberties that others do not–opportunitiesthat some may never be presented or in which others may not be interested. One of those opportunities is year-round access to the Situk River, however, this year was different. 

Yakutat’s winter was a doozy. The past several years the winters have been mild. Maybe a couple weeks a year the roads got snowed in but for the most part I’ve been able to fish almost year-round. Not this year. From about December 15th until the early days of February it snowed…and snowed and snowed some more. There were not accurate counts because of power outages and other bush problems, but I’d say we got between seven and nine feet of snow in about eight weeks. That’s a lot. There were days towards the end when I was buried up past the doors of the plow truck and cursing Mother Nature. However, I was excited about the one thing–lots of snow brings lots of runoff which means perfect water conditions all steelhead season on the Situk. 

I typically would travel to the 9-mile bridge about every other day by snow machine to check my trap line and look for fish. On February 14th, I was pulling my line as the snow had overcome my sets and I was tired of post-holing for empty traps. Standing on the bridge I could see that all-too-familiar shadow—a glimpse of a steelhead! I raced home, grabbed a float rod rigged with a peach-colored jig, bungeed it to my sled and raced back to the river. 

Steelhead Fishing Report river guide expert

It was 25 degrees out and I was standing in knee-deep snow on top of a berm that is usually a thick rat’s nest of willow and alder. After adjusting my bobber knot, I let fly. The bobber drifted about two feet and disappeared. I was so shocked, I just stood there in wonderment; then up comes the bobber and down goes my self-image. After a few choice words of wisdom to myself and the cow moose on the adjacent bank, who I’m pretty sure was laughing at me for my mistake, I made another cast. The jig hit the water and the float disappeared again! This time I did not hesitate. If it was a lesser fish I think I would have pulled the jig through his skull, I set so hard. Boom! First fish of the season–a nice, chrome hen, nothing of notable size but a damn fine specimen. I didn’t get to fish much over the following 10 days or so due to work (I was getting ready to open the lodge). 

Anyone who has fished the Situk has seen the impressive log jams of ancient hemlock, spruce and cottonwood piled high like a giant version of pick-up sticks. This winter being as snow-laden as it was, I decided to get an early start on clearing the river. I talked to a couple of the other local guides and we planned to meet in the middle, me from the top down them from the bottom up. It takes a lot of work to cut holes in the logjams in that river, and this year was no different. At one point I cut over 10 trees in a ½-mile stretch of river, and the mountain of snow and ice buildup on top of them made it more work than usual…about three weeks, actually. During that time, I would cut, then fish my way back up river. 

During those three weeks I and a few of the other guys who were helping me out would see a fish here, a fish there, and they were all bitey but none were what I consider “fresh” or “spring” fish. Rather, they were the fall/winter run. It was not until we had cut our way down below the halfway point that we started catching the shiny ones. At this point I still had every intention of opening our doors April 1st and was so excited for our clients to show. The water temperatures were low, the water levels were very, very low as it had not warmed up enough yet for the snow to begin melting, but the fishing…The fishing was productive. 

Then along comes Mr. Corona and throws a ratchet in my gearbox. Travel bans and shutdowns forced us to extend our opening to May 1st. We were devastated to have to reach out to our clients and give them the bad news. At that point I and two of our guides who were now stuck in Yakutat had nothing better to do but fish. And fish we did. 

The first two weeks were indescribable. We always tell our clients that at the peak of the run the Situk will have about 500 fish per mile. Depending on water conditions, weather and thousands of other guide excuses, some days are incredible and some aren’t. Pressure has a lot to do with that which you can sometimes find on the steelhead fishing report. In a clear-water stream like the Situk the fish can see you just as well as you can see them and just like any steelhead, when you catch enough in one spot, they stop biting. With normal pressure on the Situk, you will average one or two hook-ups per mile; on a great day it could be many more. During those first two weeks, it was many, many more. Access to the river was still tough; trail fishing was out of the question due to snow and we were many times bulldogged by moose who were trapped in the river corridor. The poor critters really had nowhere to go, and many were pregnant cows. Due to the moose situation, we really only got to fish small sections at a time, but it didn’t matter. In fact, for the first few days we only fished from the takeout to about a mile above the weir. Some days we would go higher; others not so much. 

Weather was still barely getting above freezing and the water levels were painfully low. 12-pound fluorocarbon and 1/8-ounce jigs from Get M Dry or BnR worms were killing it. Doubles, triples and more–it was insane fishing! Make a cast…catch a fish. It was so good on some holes it seemed like it would never end. The fish were aggressive, powerful and plentiful. 

One day in particular stands out above the others. We were at a hole called Renny’s. It was early morning, cold, and the weather called for sun all day. Water levels were hovering around 85 or 90 cfs, which looks good on the steelhead fishing report. When we got on the beach, I fired in the first cast. BOOM! Fish on, fish gone. Then three casts and three fish. Then it was seven casts, seven fish and on and on and on. After seven back-to-back doubles, two triples and several more missed opportunities, we had spent two hours in one spot and had chances at over 40 fish and landed 20. I have never been a numbers guy, but that day will be burned into my memory forever and that was just one of the spots we fished that day. 

As the days got longer, and the temps warmed up the snow began to melt. The water levels were slowly on the rise and staying there (In fact, it’s May 14th as I am writing this, and the levels have not changed much). The water level reached the mid-300’s which is pretty much as perfect as it gets, and the water temperatures were perfect. Fish began pouring in the Situk, and we were taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Some days we fished 1 mile, somedays 10 miles and a couple times the whole 14. Some days were better than others. 

As the month dragged on so did the pandemic and we quickly realized that we would not be having a steelhead season here at The Yakutat Lodge. As we hesitantly decided to continue our closure into June, we continued our fish capades. 

During the final week of April and first weeks of May we slowed our approach. The steelhead fishing report recorded that the spawn started earlier than I had expected. During a normal season, every day we’d drift over a fish, that fish would run away and hide, then come back out to his chosen spot or redd and continue its business. Then along would come another boat and another and another each time the fish would swim off. Not this year. Undisturbed, I think these fish do their business and go when they have the ability to do so. It is now May 14th and the run has stalled. There are very few fresh fish in the river, and many are actually spawning or have completed spawning and have returned to the ocean to rebuild and repair the damages that spawning causes them. The snow is all but gone here at sea level. The moose have moved back to the shaded meadows and the bears are starting to prowl, hoping for a healthy run of salmon after such a harsh winter. The king salmon fishing is picking up in the bay and we are slowly gearing up to open June 18th in time for our annual sockeye run. 

I hope this article report has shed some light on the age-old question of “What if…?”


Alaska Fishing Trip to Yakutat in June

alaska fishing trips to yakutat

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 in Yakutat

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.

Why Alaska Halibut?

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.

Fishing Methods

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 Bay

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. 

The Yakutat Lodge | Fishing Alaska | Yakutat AKYakutat 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.


Added Bonus

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!

How to Fish for Steelhead


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.

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Yakutat Tern Festival

Join us for the 11th Annual Yakutat Tern Festival

May 28, 2020 – May 31, 2020

What is the Yakutat Tern Festival?

The Yakutat Tern Festival is a celebration of the natural and cultural resources of Yakutat, Alaska. The festival is family friendly and offers activities for birders as well as non-birders, including field trips, seminars, keynote speaker, kid’s activities, a race, cultural rich art, evening banquets and other programs. Register early to get a discount!


  • Registration in advance is $40.
  • Registration during the festival is $50.

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