Discovering Wild Alaskan Halibut Fishing in Alaska
I'd always hear the best fish and fishing are found in Alaska, and it's easy to see why. With majestic views, pristine waters, and plentiful stocks of wild white fish, I knew I wanted to go there if I ever got the chance. Last summer, everything finally came together for our charter fishing adventure, and I found myself headed north with friends on a trip of a lifetime to discover the wonders of wild-caught Alaskan halibut.
Journey to Alaska
As anyone who's been there knows, getting to Alaska is an adventure itself. The drive up from Seattle through the wilderness of British Columbia is beautiful, but it also can take between seven and 10 days to cover the 2,265 miles along the Alaska Highway to Anchorage. Even in the summer, snow lingers in some parts till June. So it was off the airport instead.
Flying to Alaska from Seattle is much faster, and we were on the ground in only a few hours. But what a world away it was, even before we saw any of the Alaskan white fish we came there to catch. By air, Anchorage is as far away from Washington State as Minnesota, but it's like nowhere else in the country.
In the summer, there's 18 hours of daylight and another few hours of twilight. With clear blue skies, you can see the snow-topped Chugach Mountains towering over the city of 300,000. In Anchorage, nature is always close by, with wildlife, waterways, forests, and even fields of wildflowers just a few minutes outside the city.
We enjoyed out time in Anchorage, taking a couple days to see the sights, hike and kayak close to town, then it was on to our main objective — Homer, Alaska, the wild Alaska Halibut capital of the world.
The Halibut Capital of the World
Situated on the southwest shores of the Kenai Peninsula at Kachemak Bay, it's no wonder Homer, Alaska is known as the wild Pacific Halibut fishing capital of the world. Fish and shellfish are abundant all year long, thanks to water currents that carry nutrients from Cook Inlet into the 40-mile-long stretch of Kachemak Bay.
As we flew in from Anchorage, the Homer Spit was the first feature of the town we noticed. A narrow strip of land jutting far out into Kachemak Bay, the Homer Spit is a 4.5-mile-long gravel sand bar with shops, art galleries, seafood restaurants and beaches. It's also the home of Homer Boat Harbor.
In the peak of the summer Pacific Halibut season, the harbor serves as many as 1,500 commercial and pleasure boats. It's a modest-sized harbor, making it hard to imagine that many boats here, but I can understand why they'd come.
Halibut Fishing in Alaska
Reaching our destination of Homer, Alaska, we were excited to get out on the water. There are a number of Alaskan Halibut fishing guides to help you plan your trip, learn about halibut and even help you choose from the available Alaskan Halibut fishing packages. The guides and packages are a big help for out-of-towners, since there are a lot of great charter fishing operations in the area.
We picked a great charter operation with a friendly captain and knowledgeable crew who took care of everything. We barely had to do more than just bring ourselves. All the necessary fishing licenses, tags, and halibut derby tickets were available conveniently at the harbor office. Our charter provided fishing gear and tackle, bait, and warm cabin facilities inside the boat. It was also worth it having an experienced guide who knew the Alaskan waters and the best spots for wild white fish.
Halibut or Salmon
People come for both king salmon and Halibut fishing in Homer, Alaska, and it was a tough choice at first of which we should pick to do. A fishing lagoon right on Homer Spit is stocked with king and silver salmon and you can surf cast right from the Spit. Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet waters are home to wild Halibut, rockfish and lingcod. Some visitors even try out river fishing or clamming. You could hardly go wrong with either Halibut or salmon or any of the other choices, but our hearts were set on trying for a huge wild-caught Alaska halibut.
Pacific Halibut Size
If you've never seen a fresh catch, the average Pacific Halibut size in Alaska will surprise you. The current state record is 459 pounds and almost eight feet long. The world record is nearly 700 pounds and nine feet long. If you compare Pacific Halibut vs. California Halibut, it's worlds apart. The record for California halibut is about 40 pounds, but most are six to 20 pounders.
While we were hoping for a world record Pacific halibut, we knew we couldn't go wrong with the typical catch, which ranges between 10 and 50 pounds, though fish up to 200 pounds are regularly caught. With two days of fishing and a limit of two halibut per angler per day, it's easy to end up with a lot of fresh fish Halibut fishing in Alaska.
Our Catch of the Day
The Pacific Halibut season runs from mid-May to mid-September, so our June trip was right in the middle of the season. From the beginning, the entire two days were incredible. We had a range of fishing experience on our boat so the crew gave those of us that needed it a refresher on how to use the rods and the habits of the local halibut.
One the first day, I caught my allowed limit of two wild Halibut. The first was a beautiful 30-pounder and I was overjoyed. But then I caught what was obviously a much bigger fish. The fishing rod bent over almost in half as she pulled. The charter crew coached me to bring her in, and after some effort I was looking down at a 60-pound halibut. To say it was big would be an understatement. The flatfish was about 50 inches long and 18 inches top to bottom at the widest.
After two full eight-hour days of fishing, our trio had reached our limit of wild-caught Pacific Halibut. Then we wondered: what will we do with all this fish? Ever the professionals, the crew onboard the charter filleted our fish for free at the end of the day. Homer, Alaska is used to out-of-town visitors catching a lot of fish and we had no trouble finding operations to professionally freeze, package and ship our fresh catch home for us.
Daily Halibut Fish and Chips
With our charter fishing trip complete it was time to go home to Washington State. However, my halibut adventure was far from over. Even after our catch was filleted and processed, we had a lot of fresh fish to eat. I arrived home almost at the same time as my 65 pounds of halibut fillets. Thankfully, I had room in a spare freezer, but I knew I had to start eating a lot more fish.
I realized right off the bat that I needed to find some good wild Alaskan Halibut recipes. There's no shortage of options when it comes to how to cook Alaskan Halibut. You can poach it, grill it, bake it, fry it, steam it and more. And any way you cook it, it maintains its shape and texture. The greatest thing about fresh wild-caught Alaskan Halibut is how tasty and hearty the snow-white flaky meat is. Still, it became an adventure for me to find the best way to cook Halibut.
First, I tried a classic Halibut fish and chips. Halibut is delicious with a light and simple beer batter of flour, salt, oil and your favorite beer, as the slightly sweet flavor of the fish pairs well with the buttery flavor of the batter. It's possibly the best way to cook Halibut. You can serve it hot right away with a side of chips, or save it for a cold snack the next day.
Halibut for Lunch
Pretty quickly, I ended up frying extra halibut fillets to save for lunch the next day. Soon I was eating Alaskan Halibut of one form or another almost every day for lunch. I started using grilled and baked fillets for an even healthier meal and using these to make my own halibut sandwiches. I tried them with tartar sauce, remoulade, and aioli.
Healthy Halibut Facts
I discovered along the way that halibut is an extremely healthy food. Here are some interesting Alaskan Halibut nutrition facts. It's a low-calorie, low-fat and high-protein food, with 115 calories, 22 grams of protein, and only 2.5 grams of fat per three-ounce serving. It's also low in sodium and cholesterol. Plus, unlike some varieties of farm-raised fish, Alaska Halibut mercury content and purine content is typically very low. Finally, Halibut is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and other key nutrients. It's no wonder I lost four pounds in the two months after I came back.
Halibut for Sale Wholesale
Yet as my halibut stocks ran low, I began to get a bit worried and depressed. Fish lunch had become my thing. I was eating healthier, feeling more energetic and alert, and getting more done. I knew one thing — I needed more fish.
Since I'd had such a good experience with my fresh Alaskan Halibut being flash frozen and shipped right to my door, I realized I could get the same high quality freshness buying my fish online. I began to look into how to buy Alaskan Halibut for sale wholesale. Quickly, I realized there were lots of options to buy fresh halibut online, but I knew I had to find just the right choice.
To know where to buy Halibut fish, I looked for suppliers that caught their wild white fish in the same clean, pristine Alaskan waters I had caught mine. I made sure they used sustainable fishing practices and that they processed and froze the catch right away to lock in the best freshness. Finally, I looked for a great price to match the great quality. Pretty soon, I had more fish on the way to my door and this time I didn't have to choose between Halibut or salmon. I ordered some of both.