Guests at Green Rocks Lodge (southeast Alaska near Petersburg) typically target halibut by setting their boat at anchor an hour or two before slack tide. They then lower their baited circle hooks down to wait for a bite. Often the boat is ideally situated near the edge of a dropoff into deep water where the halibut like to rest until it’s time to move shallower and feed.
Where To Anchor
Your best bet if searching for a new spot is to study the maps provided by the lodge. Look for a drop off into deep water that you want to try. The maps have some spots marked with stars to help narrow your selection. These will help teach you the basics of where halibut like to hangout. As you approach these spots look to the fishfinder screen. You’re looking to find the “edge” that you want to the boat positioned at while fishing. Take note of the depth of your chosen spot. Save the spot on your GPS. A maximum recommended depth of near 100 feet should not be exceeded based on the gear provided in the boat (30 to 100 feet is a good range to target).
Have the anchor at the ready with the front hatch open (if in a covered boat). If using a chum net bag (recommended for halibut) make sure that it’s fully loaded with your selected bait such as herring, squid, salmon, etc. Clip the chum bag about 5 feet up the anchor rope from where the end of the anchor chain is attached to it.
Put the motor in neutral to allow the boat to drift with wind and current. Note the drift pattern from your chosen spot (should show up on the GPS). Then put the motor in gear and slowly motor back over your chosen spot. Have the anchor at the ready. Keep motoring in the same direction a distance of about twice the depth of your chosen spot past it. Put the motor in neutral and lower the anchor immediately.
Allow additional line to pay out after the anchor has touched down. The total line laid out when at anchor over your chosen spot will probably be a bit over twice the depth of where the anchor was dropped in. You can verify your final boat position by looking at both the fishfinder depth and GPS screens. Fasten the anchor line firmly to the bow cleat. Make sure that the true end of the anchor rope is attached in the hatch near the bow of the boat.
Always anchor only off the bow of the boat. These waters are subject to some very strong currents (tidal rips) at select locations at certain times. The only safe way to anchor is with the line attached to the bow. Never set the anchor line off the stern and never try to pull the anchor up or dislodge it from the bottom with the line attached to the stern.
With the boat at anchor it’s time to drop your lines and start fishing. It’s recommended that you fish through the slack tide and for at least an hour after slack tide. This will allow time for the fish to smell the chum and move in on your baits near the bottom.
When it’s time to pull the anchor do so by motoring up slowly while a helper in the bow pulls the anchor rope up as the boat advances towards the anchor. Always pull the anchor up from the bow. When the line is vertical above the anchor the helper will need to lift sharply to break it free and start pulling it up towards the boat.
If the anchors feels as though it’s stuck then fasten the rope down tight to the bow cleat and nudge the boat forward over and slightly past the anchor. That usually will break free an anchor that is stuck. If the anchor refuses to budge then you will need to cut the anchor rope and let it go (report the lost anchor to the boat staff who will get you a replacement when you return to the lodge). Do not attempt to pull a stuck anchor by attaching the rope to the stern of the boat. Bad things can happen quickly if this is done.
Of note, when at anchor and you begin to catch fish, take note of the tide phase and relative strength of the current. Plan to return to this spot (save it on the GPS) under like tidal conditions and catch fish again. It might be smart to save the spot where the anchor was deployed (or where the boat is when the line is near vertical when pulling the anchor). This will help save time on future visits to that spot.
Anchoring is a good way to target halibut when you come to Green Rocks Lodge to fish. The tips provided here should help put you in a good position to anchor effectively and safely. Then it’s just a question of when you’ll feel that first solid tug on your line. Stay safe and catch’em up!