Reading Time: 7 minutes
No fishing trip to Alaska is complete without testing your skills against the world-famous Halibut. These behemoths of the seafloor can grow to over 300 pounds, and there’s no better place on earth than Homer, Alaska to catch Halibut and bring home dinner. After all, it is called the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World”.
In this guide, I’m going to cover everything you need to know. Where to go, what to bring, how to book a charter, and most importantly… what to expect! So let’s get started.
How to Fish for Halibut
The most popular way to fish for Halibut in Homer and the surrounding areas is to book a charter. Although Halibut can be caught from shore along “the spit,” the tides, wind, and waves make shore fishing a challenge. Besides that, the biggest populations of Halibut – and the biggest sized – are only reachable by boat.
The good news is that there’s no shortage of qualified and reputable Halibut charters in the area. These guides literally make their living by bringing visitors to the world-class Halibut fishing grounds, all within a couple of hours of Homer harbor.
Fishing charters provide the tackle, bait, and, most importantly, the boat and safe transportation to and from the fishing grounds. The success rates of Halibut fishing charters in Homer are outstanding. Chances are you’ll go home with a cooler full of fresh Halibut filets, a sore arm, and a big smile on your face.
What size Halibut can you expect?
The average sized Halibut in Alaska is 14 pounds, but it’s not uncommon to hook into 50, 60, and even 70+ pound fish. Halibut larger than 100 pounds are even caught often, and these “barn doors” are true giants of the sea.
Every year, an angler lands a true once-in-a-lifetime fish. I’m talking about Halibut weighing between 200–300 pounds!
How to Catch Halibut
When I first went on a Halibut Fishing in Homer in 2013, my charter captain and his mates provided instructions on exactly what to do. And it’s pretty simple:
First, open your bail and allow your bait to sink straight down to the sea floor. Once the weight hits the bottom and your line stops peeling off, close the bail and reel up a few clicks so the bait is 2–4 feet above the seafloor.
Now you play the waiting game. But if your charter is anything like mine was, you won’t be waiting long. You’re not likely to feel a strong or aggressive thump due to so much line being out and the heavy weight. Instead, you’ll probably feel a small bump, and your line will begin to tighten.
Start reeling! Don’t worry about setting the hook with the rod – just begin reeling and the line will tighten up. Then the fight will be on!
Halibut fight hardest once they are first hooked – and then for the first few minutes after. As they approach the surface, they typically tire out and slow down due to the change in atmospheric pressure.
Once your Halibut comes to the surface, the first mate or deckhand will assist you in getting it into the boat. This is usually done with a gaff or fish hook. For bigger Halibut, they sometimes use a gun to safely dispatch the fish before bringing it aboard.
Halibut Fishing Tackle
Halibut are big, aggressive, and powerful fish – and so is the fishing tackle used to catch them. Most anglers use a 5–6′ short but heavy power rod, with a rugged level wind reel. Penn Senators are a local favorite in Homer.
Because Halibut are caught anywhere from 50–120 feet, anglers use a “no stretch” fishing line such as dacron or nylon. Leave the split shots at home. Here, you’ll need anywhere between 8 ounces and a pound of lead to get your bait to the bottom in the strong Alaskan current.
Large 6/0–12/0 circle hooks are the preferred choice because, after you feel the bite, all you have to do is start reeling to set the hook.
Best Bait for Halibut Fishing
Halibut spend the majority of their time along the seafloor, where they feed heavily on fish, squid, and even octopus. But the most common and popular Halibut bait is salmon!
Yep, due to the thriving salmon fishery in the state of Alaska, there’s no shortage of salmon scraps. Salmon heads and salmon bellies are often cut into chunk bait and make for amazing Halibut bait.
Other common baits include herring, sardines, cod scraps, and just about anything else that’s oily and durable.
About Homer Halibut Fishing Charters
The Halibut Charter fleet is located in Homer Harbor, which sits at the end of “the spit.” This 4.5-mile stretch of land is like a giant sand bar extending out into the beautiful Kachemak Bay, and is perfectly positioned for you to start your Halibut fishing excursion.
In nearly every direction you look, you’ll be surrounded by snow-capped mountains and volcanoes, and the waters are teeming with wildlife. Keep an eye out for sea lions, seals, sea otters, and even whales!
Charter Boat Types
There are a few different types of Halibut charters, depending on the size of your group and the kind of fishing you’re interested in. Don’t worry, there’s something for everyone – even the kids!
Most trips depart the dock or marina between 6–7 a.m., depending on your booking, You can choose from half, three-quarter, full-day, and even multiday excursions – but these are reserved for hardcore anglers.
Party boat is the nickname for bigger vessels that take larger groups of people to the Halibut fishing grounds. These vessels are 40–60 feet in length, and have indoor seating, heating, bathrooms on board, and can hold up to 20 anglers.
Ideal for half day or three-quarter day charters, party boats are often the least expensive option, and are great for families and beginners who want to experience the thrill of Halibut fishing. It’s also a great way to make friends and meet other traveling anglers.
6-pack Halibut charters are aptly named because they typically hold groups of 6 people. These smaller vessels range from 20–30 feet in size, and come equipped with outboard engines. This makes them fast and ready to fish.
These charters offer a more private fishing environment, and the captains can typically reach the Halibut fishing grounds that larger vessels can’t. If you want to target big Halibut with just you and your friends, this is the way to go.
Private Halibut charters are specifically tailored to each angler. If you’re looking for a completely customized Halibut experience, ask about a private charter.
Private charters are ideal for anglers in search of a trophy-sized Halibut. These charters usually include state-of-the-art tackle, premium baits, and refreshments – even far away from the common fishing grounds.
Private charter captains can typically combine other activities with your Halibut fishing trip. These include whale watching, Salmon fishing, shrimping, crabbing, and even scenic tours.
When to Fish for Halibut in Homer, AK
The peak months for Halibut fishing in Homer and the surrounding areas are June, July, and August. But you can still experience great fishing in the shoulder months of May, September, and October.
I recommend reaching out to the charter captain and asking them for a fishing report. They can typically tell you how the Halibut bite is doing, and recommend other fishing services if it happens to be the wrong time of year. There’s always something to fish for in Alaska!
After the Catch
Halibut are typically not a “catch-and-release” species, so chances are you’re going to get some fresh fish to bring home with you after your trip. Deckhands and guides will almost always process and filet your fish for you. And there are plenty of fish houses in the Homer area that will freeze and vacuum seal your fish for safe shipping back home.
In case you didn’t know, Halibut yields firm, mild, white meat that’s excellent on the grill or fried.
Alaska Halibut Fishing Regulations
In order to fish for Halibut in Alaska, both residents and non-residents need a fishing license. You can purchase your license online, or at most sporting goods retailers throughout Alaska.
Non-resident licenses vary depending on the amount of time you want to spend fishing. Choose from a 1-day, 3-day, 7-day, 14-day, or annual permit. Check with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the most up-to-date information on license prices.
There are also special regulations in Homer, depending on whether you’re a guided or unguided angler. Read on for more details.
Unguided Anglers – as of April 2022
Sportfishing season: February 1 to December 31, 2022.
Daily bag limit: Two Halibut of any size per day, per person. However, an unguided sport Halibut angler may exceed the possession limit on a vessel that does not contain sport fishing gear, fishing rods, hand lines, or gaffs.
Guided (Charter Anglers) – as of February 2022
Sportfishing season: February 1 to December 31, 2022.
Size limit: 28-inch maximum size limit on one fish. Charter vessel anglers may keep one fish of any size per day and one fish that is no more than 28 inches in length. The 28-inch maximum size limit allows anglers to keep a second fish that weighs approximately 9 pounds (round weight).
Possession limit: Two daily bag limits.
Two fish daily bag limit: Charter vessel anglers may catch and retain two Halibut per day.
For the most up-to-date Halibut fishing regulations, or to find Halibut regulations in other parts of Alaska, visit the NOAAA website.
What to Pack
If you decide to book with a Halibut fishing charter, they’ll most likely tell you what to pack and what to bring. In most cases, they provide water and light refreshments. But here’s a quick list of what I never leave home without:
- Rain jacket and waterproof or water-resistant clothing
- Motion-sensitivity medication (such as dramamine or bonine)
- Layered clothing
- A copy of the fishing license
- Water and snacks
- Rubber boots or non-slip shoes (no sandals)
- Sunscreen (yes, even in winter!)
Homer Halibut Fishing: Every Angler’s Dream
If you’re lucky enough to visit the great state of Alaska, do yourself a favor and book a trip to go Halibut Fishing. The eclectic town of Homer has a rich fishing history and giant Halibut are waiting just offshore. Good luck!
Have you ever been Halibut fishing in Alaska? How big was your catch? Any tips and tricks you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line in the comments below!
By: Adam Young
Title: Halibut Fishing in Homer, AK
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/halibut-fishing-in-homer/
Published Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2022 12:06:00 +0000