Halibut fishing made easy

Posted: Friday, April 16, 2010

There's a hard way to fish for halibut, and there's an easier way.

The hard way is to fish from an anchored boat in deep water with strong tidal currents running, conditions that necessitate using sinkers as heavy as 5 pounds to get a bait to the bottom, where most halibut are usually found.

Reeling in 250 feet of line to check your bait is tiring and boring.

When you're plagued by bait-stealing small fish or spiny dogfish, you can become exhausted long before you hook a halibut.

The easy way to fish for halibut is to drift-jig with 6- to 8-ounce jigs in water no more than 150 feet deep. Because the boat drifts at about the same speed as the current, your line will be almost straight down.

Compared to fishing from an anchored boat, this equates to less reeling and a better chance of setting the hook in a fish.

The lighter terminal gear used in drift jigging allows you to use lighter tackle. The old broom stick and winch I once used on halibut weighed far more than my drift-jigging outfit. The lighter outfit is much easier to hold and less tiring to use.

The reason I bring this up is because -- despite the fact that it's snowing as I write this -- it's spring, which brings thoughts of love and fishing.

This year, I have a real challenge in store, a girlfriend who has never been fishing, despite her Social-Security-eligible status. The pressure is on. I have to take her on a trip she'll enjoy.

I can't control the weather or whether the fish will bite, but I can control pretty much everything else by choosing the right charter-boat skipper.

Our skipper will have a clean, comfortable boat with heat and a head -- a toilet. He'll know where fish have been biting, and he'll take us there. If the water is rough, he'll have a "Plan B," which might include trolling for king salmon in a calm part of the bay.

He'll have a helpful, experienced mate who will unhook and fillet our fish with a smile.

Our captain will have the best tackle available for drift jigging -- the latest in jigging rods, and reels with a 6:1 gear ratio for fast line retrieval.

Hopefully, he'll have some stories I haven't heard a dozen times before.

With the right skipper, I won't have to do much of anything except look handsome and debonair.

Since that's my usual look, this trip will be as easy as can be.

Les Palmer lives in Sterling.

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