Homer is famously known as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World,” that should tell you all you need to know about this remote corner of the Kenai Peninsula. Not convinced? Don’t worry, the town has more than earned its name. Homer Halibut charters bag their limits on almost every trip, and fish over 200 pounds are caught each year by the dozen. You can even catch Halibut from shore in certain places, if you have the strength to drag them from the water.
You can catch Halibut in all but the depths of winter in Homer, and even then it’s only because they’re closed for harvest. During the summer, the whole town goes wild for this hard-fighting flatfish. The Jackpot Halibut Derby runs for three whole months, weighing prize catches and reporting tagged fish for tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. Never has a town been more focus on one fish than this, and we can see why!
What to Expect from a Halibut Fishing Charter
Most Homer Halibut fishing charters focus solely on this one species, heading out to the best waters with tackle specifically selected for these monstrous bottom-dwellers. Half day Halibut charters fish the deep waters of Cook Inlet, while full day trips can take you way out into the Gulf of Alaska. This is the best Halibut fishing Homer has to offer - big words for the species’ capital city.
If you like, you can also head out on a “combo trip” targeting King Salmon, Lingcod, or Rockfish alongside the Halibut. These can last 12 hours easy and are not for the faint-hearted, but will send you home with more fish than you’ll know what to do with. Homer charter guides have an answer for that too, and many can arrange flash freezing and packaging to keep your fish fresh on the journey home.
The most effective way to target Halibut is to drop baits and chum down to the bottom and wait for the fish to come to you. They’re scent-based predators which stalk the deep in search of prey, and dropping nice oily baits like Salmon belly strips and whole fillets of Herring will have every fish in the area swarming your hooks. Once you have their attention, you can also get great results by jigging. Jigs mimicking Squid and baitfish both work well, especially when you add a bit of fish to give off a scent trail.
The best thing about fishing for Halibut is that, even though there are very strict catch limits in place, you can safely catch and release as many as you like in order to only bring the biggest fish home. This is why it’s always worth investing in a full day charter - you won’t just be fishing the best waters, you’ll have time to make sure you catch a winner.
Need to Know
Halibut are closed for harvest throughout the month of January. They peak in the summer months but can be caught year-round if you can brave the cold to find them. You’ll need a saltwater fishing license to do so, though, as these aren’t provided on local charters. Pick these up online or from approved local vendors.