Many anglers venture to Green Rocks Lodge in southeast Alaska near Petersburg in search of halibut. Fishing self-guided means that you get to select the time, location, and duration that you choose to fish. I’ve visited and fished for halibut at Green Rocks Lodge for the past 10 years and have been successful in catching a fair number of quality fish. This article will describe my basic strategies that I use while chasing halibut when I’m staying at the lodge.
The staff at Green Rocks Lodge will have your boat outfitted with gear set to help you anchor securely in your selected location. I recommend that you try to limit your selected location to a maximum depth of 100 feet. Depending on speed of the current, which will change greatly with time spent at your spot, you will likely need maybe two times the depth as your length of anchor rope. The boats are all outfitted with a chained Danforth anchor, plenty of rope and cleat up in the bow to help set the anchor line with. ALWAYS ANCHOR OFF YOUR BOW! The swift running currents are dangerous if anchored from any other point of the boat. Note that you can request a net chum bag that can be clipped to your anchor line to help put scent in the water upstream of your baits. Put some cut-up herring/squid/cod/salmon in the bag and send it down with your anchor.
This is where you need to be on your toes as you study the charts in search of good place to try for halibut (actually the Lodge helps you with some marked up maps,,,,, I’ve caught fish at some the marks that I’ve tried). I’ve caught big fish (little ones too) in as shallow as 25 feet and as deep as 110 (my bait was getting pushed even deeper). The key to my strategy of picking a place to anchor is that I look for a notable drop-off and park the boat there. I like it best when the tidal current is running from where I’m anchored on the shallow side edge, out to much deeper water. Halibut like deep water, but I’ve found that they come up to shallower water to feed. So the key is to anchor on the edge of flat, right where it drops off into deeper water. Use the sonar in your boat to help you find your spot to anchor with this in mind. I often will run the boat over the area I’m thinking of trying on a few different headings to get a better feel for how the bottom lays there and where I want to set the anchor so that the boat ends up near the drop-off. Put the motor in neutral to see the drift direction that the boat will take when anchored.
Another key element in determining where to anchor is bottom composition. I’ve done well in both sticky mud and sandy bottom. The charts sometimes indicate the bottom makeup. You’ll know it if you’re fishing on a mud bottom as you sinker or jig will often get stuck to it and you’ll need to lift your rod to pop it free. I don’t recommend fishing a real rocky bottom. You may have trouble with getting your anchor stuck or rigs snagged on the bottom.
I’ve found that I get my most consistent halibut action around the change in tides (lower moving current). That usually lasts for about an hour and a half or so. The key is to pick a good spot that you have confidence in and stay there for a while fishing. Sometimes it takes a little while for the scent from your chum bag and baits on the line to draw halibut into the area. I’ve seen times where it took a couple of hours for the halibut to show up but once they did we had two boats, with 5 of us altogether catch our limit of fish (10 altogether) to over 80 lbs in about a half hour. We left them biting hard that day.
That’s my basic halibut fishing strategy that I use while fishing Green Rocks Lodge. I’ve set a personal goal of studying the charts and finding/trying one new spot every visit that I go there and am often rewarded with some quality fish. The satisfaction of success in catching these beautiful and tasty fish by using my skills and strategies as outlined above is what brings me back to the Lodge time and again. And yes, I do return back to prior spots of success. Oftentimes being rewarded with a prime catch. Those fish are there for a reason. If you’ll put these tricks to work for you, I’m sure you will get them biting as well.
Future articles will discuss more details on how to catch halibut at Green Rocks Lodge.