Alaska’s capital was built on its fishing industry. Over 100 years ago, one industrious fisherman thought to pack his catch in glacier ice and ship it south to sell, and the country has been hooked ever since. The Halibut fishing Juneau has access to ranks among the best in the state. There are some great spots nearby and some of the biggest fish on record were caught within day trip distance - just ask the Gustavus angler who pulled in a 482-pound fish back in 2014! There are record-breakers still lurking out there in the deep, and Juneau is the perfect place to catch one.
What to Expect From a Juneau Halibut Trip
Halibut can be found year-round in Alaska. During the winter, they head to deeper waters to spawn, and have been found over 3,000 feet down. In the summer, they can be found in just 30 feet of water, and have been caught from shore in some parts of the state! If you’re visiting in the summer (and chances are, you are) You’ll normally be fishing in around 100-200 feet of water, heading closer to shore for some famous spots.
The reason Halibut are capable of such incredible changes in depth is that they don’t have a swim bladder. This means you can happily haul them up to the surface and drop them right back down again without causing any lasting harm. That’s good news, because you can only keep one fish per trip. This is where heading out for longer helps - you can find Halibut on a half day trip but you’ll have a lot more chances of bagging a winner on a full day.
Halibut Fishing Techniques
Halibut are bottom-dwellers and don’t go more than a few feet from the floor even when hunting. The best way to find them is to drop some chum down as you anchor up and wait for them to come to you. Once these keen-scented predators are drawn in, oily baits like Herring and Salmon are your best bet. Jigs work well, too, but it’s best to add some bait to them, just for the scent trail.
After that, it’s a case of “hold on tight and haul with all your might”. You’ll be using Shark-sized circle hooks and heavy, braided line. These guys may only way 30-50 pounds most of the time, but even that’s like lifting a truck once they stick themselves to the bottom. Now imagine a 200-pound “Barn Door” Halibut! Heavy tackle is a no-brainer if you ever want to see your hooks again.
Need to Know
Halibut are closed for harvest in January to allow them to spawn in safety. Fishing licenses aren’t normally included on Juneau Halibut charters, so order yours online or pick one up when you get to town. If you want to take your catch home with you, you won’t need to go hacking away at glaciers to do so. Most local charter captains will arrange flash-freezing and vacuum-sealing for all your catch, ready to ship in prime condition.