Halibut catch rate better than 2001

Posted: Sunday, July 14, 2002

Area halibut fishermen had a great first week of July.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, it took an average of five hours to land a halibut in the Juneau area that week, up from 28 hours at this same time last year.

But in other weeks, the numbers were similar to previous years.

"It's running about normal here, a little bit better than last year," said Bruce White, a fisheries biologist who conducts sport fish harvest studies for the department.

White said the five-year average harvest rate for halibut is 20 hours, which is near the same average for this season.

The sport season for halibut runs virtually year round, opening Feb. 1 and ending Dec. 31.

White said the best area to catch halibut near Juneau is in Icy Strait or Lynn Canal. But he said Craig and Sitka tend to yield more fish.

"Herring and jigs are probably the most popular methods," said White.

The bag limit for halibut is two of any size per day, per person.

"You want to avoid fishing while there's a big change of tide, because you want to keep the line on the bottom," said White. "Other than that it takes some luck. You just have to fish."

Halibut are a bottom feeder that can be more than 8 feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds. They range from Santa Barbara, Calif., to Nome.

The largest halibut caught in Alaska weighed 459 pounds and was caught in Unalaska Bay, White said.

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