Many guests come to Green Rocks Lodge in southeast Alaska specifically to target the beautiful Pacific Halibut. These fish thrive in the local waters. Basically a bait-driven manner is used to get the fish to bite. Weighted rigs or jigs are baited up and sent down near the bottom in 30 to +100 foot depths. The scent of the bait is broadcast by the currents and draws the hungry halibut towards the hook.
Lodge Provided Bait
The Lodge provides an array of frozen bait including herring, salmon strips (when available), and squid. If using this as your main bait then be sure to take some out of the bait cooler as you leave the lodge. This allows time for the bait to thaw some before you start fishing. A future blog will cover how to bait the hook (whether fishing with a circle hook, J-hook, or jig).
Catching Your Own Bait
If you arrive in town a day or more before your lodge stay then you can catch some fresh herring for bait. Go down to the docks near (just south of) the northern cannery and try for some fresh herring. Check with the hotel to see if they have freezer space for herring bait you may catch. They likely have a 5 gal bucket you can borrow as well (be sure to clean it when done). Pack a medium spinning rod (telescopic rods work fine) and matching reel in your bags. The local hardware store sells Sabiki rigs and 1 oz sinkers that are all that’s needed to get the herring to bite. Put your herring catch in the bucket as you catch them.
The nearby grocery store sells salt and 1 gal freezer bags (you can bring maybe 6-8 of these with you from home). Load perhaps 2 dozen herring per bag and pour in a good dose of salt to help brine the fish. There’s an ice bin and shovel near the cannery that has ice available (free of charge but don’t abuse). Put some ice on the salted herring bags. The salt will help draw water out of the herring as it brines them for a few hours. Drain the excess water out of each bag before sealing tight and placing in the hotel freezer. Storage overnight on ice before going to the Lodge is a good alternative if freezer space is not available at the hotel.
Let the boating staff at the Lodge know that you have brined herring and they will put them in the bait freezer for you. This bait is about the best bait you can get for chasing halibut.
Chumming For Halibut
The Green Rocks Lodge boats come with a chum bag (netting). Clip it to the anchor rope about 5 feet above the chain leading to the anchor. Fill the chum bag with some of the lodge herring bait, salmon strips, etc. Some anglers stop by the grocery store in town and get small cans of mackerel, tuna, cat food, etc. They’ll punch a few holes in the can before adding them to the chum bags and lowering to the bottom. The combination of the chum bag scent and scent from the baited hooks can draw halibut in from a distance away down current. The first thing these halibut will come across is your hook with bait attached.
Putting It Altogether
Use of the Lodge provided bait or that which you’ve caught and brined the day before your stay coupled with chumming strategies detailed in this blog will help put you in a good position to catch halibut at Green Rocks Lodge. There are blog articles in this collection that describe ideas of how to pick a spot to target halibut. The combination of these ideas are key to giving you the best chance to catch fish during your stay there. If you pick a good spot to fish, use a good presentation and bait/chum, at the right time, your chances for success go way up.