Halibut Fishing Alaska: Top Tips

Halibut Fishing Charters Ketchikan, Alaska: Top Destination For Halibut Fishing In The World!

While halibut fishing in general can be a tricky operation, we’re going to cover some of the pro halibut fishing tips to catch halibut in Alaska. In turn, these how to catch halibut fishing tips will give you a great insight. For instance you’ll know what to expect when halibut fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska. 

Boat limit of halibut for this Ketchikan fishing trip.

1. How To Catch Halibut Alaska

First and foremost, know your species well. Halibut are primarily bottom dwellers that find food using mainly scent, sight and sound. Knowing this we can dial in the locations and techniques that prove most successful. 

Halibut fishing can be achieved by anchoring, back trolling or trolling. We’ll go into more detail about the various methods in How To Catch Halibut In Alaska. 

Based on the conditions, time of year and food sources present your captain will know which method will be most productive. 

2. Halibut Sense of Smell

Halibut have an incredibly keen sense of smell! This is one of the most important factors while halibut fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska. Use this to your advantage and you will see immediate results.

While Halibut primarily feed on the bottom of the ocean floor there is little light that penetrates these depths. For this reason their sense of smell has to be heightened so they can find food in the near dark conditions. Various methods to make a scent trail can be implemented. Chum bags, fish oil additives and cut bait are some of the most common ways to increase your scent trail. 

3. Best Scent For Catching Halibut

Many anglers fishing for halibut in Ketchikan use chum bags when they’re anchored up on a halibut fishing spot. Using a mesh bag weighted to the bottom with cut bait allows the scent to flow down current. This in turn attracts halibut that may be further from your spot and allows them to work their way up current to your halibut fishing rigs. 

Another tried and true method is using additives for your bait and lures. Adding Pro-Cure Butt Juice or Herring Oil to your lures, jigs and baits adds an entire level of scent for halibut who may be seeking out your halibut rig. These specially designed products have various fish attracting additives that are sure to enhance your bait’s scent profile. 

4. Best Baits for Halibut Fishing

Now that you understand how important scent is for catching halibut in Alaska, let us discuss the best baits for halibut fishing. 

Herring – Top Halibut Fishing Bait

Undoubtedly herring has to be the top favorite for halibut fishing in Alaska. It’s readily available at all times, not too expensive and has one heck of an oily smelly scent that attracts fish. Herring can be chunked in pieces or used whole on halibut fishing rigs. Either way it’s recommended to always have some herring on hand when halibut fishing. 

Salmon – Top Halibut Fishing Bait

Salmon as bait? Why yes, Salmon as bait for halibut fishing is extremely productive. Experienced captains know this can make the difference when the halibut are feeding on the salmon returning to spawn. If herring is the number one choice for halibut fishing bait, then salmon is without a doubt a close second. 

Cod – Top Halibut Fishing Bait

In addition to salmon being such an attractive bait for halibut fishing I would have to say Cod is right up there with it. Cod are a common food source for Halibut throughout their life and they generally have an acquired taste for pollock and Pacific cod. Cod rounds out my top three favorite baits for halibut fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska

FishBites – Top Synthetic Halibut Fishing Bait

Fishbites makes a squid chunk synthetic bait that performs phenomenally well for halibut fishing in Alaska. The benefit of having squid scented bait is immense, and not only that but a bait that stays on the hook so well. For these reasons we always have a pack of squid chunk Fishbites in our Alaska bait box. 

5. Best Rigs For Halibut Fishing

While there’s various halibut fishing rigs that work, we’re going to cover our favorite halibut fishing rigs that catch consistently. We’ll also go into much greater detail on the best halibut fishing rigs. 

Apart from the scent factor that dictates how a halibut can find your bait there’s another variable that’s tried and true and that’s sight. For this reason we use glow in the dark squids in various sizes and color patterns to entice the halibut to bite our bottom fishing rigs. Click here for an assortment of halibut fishing lures that we prefer. 

6. Best Jigs Halibut Fishing Alaska

The best jigs for halibut fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska are metal jigs, grub tail jigs and swim bait jigs. All these jigs have various effects on the fish and when’s best to use each is discussed further in our Best Jigs For Halibut article. Regardless of the day there’s always a situation when a jig has the possibility of out fishing the traditional halibut fishing rigs most commonly used.

7. Techniques For Halibut Fishing

The top techniques for halibut fishing may depend on how you’re fishing for halibut in Alaska. If anchored, then there’s the traditional weighted rig with a glow in the dark artificial squid rigged with a circle hook and chunk of bait consisting of herring, squid, salmon or cod.

Consequently there’s jig fishing which employs metal jigs or grub tails worked actively off the bottom and can be run on anchor or drift fishing an area for halibut. Discussed at greater lengths in the article here Best Techniques For Halibut Fishing. 


8. Catching Giant Halibut Alaska

If giant halibut is what you’re after or often referred to as “Barn Door” halibut then we absolutely recommend upsizing your bait of choice. Using a half of salmon carcass or cod carcass allows better soak time on the bottom. The little fish can’t eat the entirety of the bait and this allows your monster halibut bait to sit and soak waiting for the big one to come along. Read more about Catching Giant Alaska Halibut in the article here. 

9. Halibut Fishing Pro Tips 

While halibut fishing these deep dark waters we rig our fishing equipment up with glowing squids paired with fresh bait. In other words, we make the squid lures stand out in the dark by glowing and illuminating surrounding waters. Not only do we have glowing lures, but in addition we add fresh cut herring. Combining an intense scent profile to this deadly combination that halibut can’t resist. 

Coaching our clients to success we’ve seen an incredible hookup ratio as patience pays when you have a halibut biting the line. Be sure not to jerk!In other words, steadily reel down until you feel the line tighten and the rod bend. Now that you have a giant Pacific halibut on the line, play them out and take your time, reeling in these giants from the depths is no easy task.  


10. Best Halibut Fishing Ketchikan, Alaska

The best halibut fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska often involves a boat ride anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours from downtown Ketchikan. Generally the farther you get from the fishing pressure in town the better halibut fishing experience you’ll have.

For this reason our halibut fishing charters run to the richest grounds to keep you on the fish. Depending on the weather and trip duration we may run as close as 30 minutes or head over an hour offshore to the open ocean. 

11. What Makes A Good Halibut Fishing Spot

This question comes up often as a captain of halibut fishing charters in Ketchikan, Alaska. Clients want to know how you find such a specific spot where halibut concentrate in these large bodies of water.

To simplify the science of finding the best halibut fishing spots in Ketchikan we use an equation that weighs the temperature of the water, tidal flow, bottom structure and food sources present. With an insurmountable amount of experience fishing for and catching halibut this equation becomes more scientific than most. To read more about What Makes A Good Halibut Fishing Spot click here.