Halibut fishing is one of the most sought-after angling experiences in Alaska. No trip to Alaska is complete without the excitement of catching Alaska’s delicious flatfish. Halibut are typically abundant in our area, they freeze well, and are among everyone’s favorite table fare. Fishing for halibut in the calm protected waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage can become pretty addictive. Halibut can be caught fairly close to town and the longest run is a little over an hour, but believe me, there are plenty of halibut spots in between! Fishing depths range from 40 feet to 175 feet. The weight of halibut varies from 15 lbs to that “barn door” trophy size.
A side benefit of halibut fishing is we often incidentally catch a wide assortment of other unique bottom-dwelling species. They are all fun, interesting, and some can be pretty tasty. You certainly will enjoy a day of halibut or bottom fishing on the “Timber Wolf” with its roomy back deck and spacious cabin.
“Sizeable Bonus Halibut” aka “GAF” Halibut:
Pacific halibut are a highly regulated resource that requires special permission in order to offer guided halibut charters. Alaska Charters Fishing holds the permits that allow you the maximum opportunity to catch and retain this delicious sport fish. Not only does Alaska Charters Fishing hold the required Charter Halibut Permit (CHP), it also holds the Guided Angler Fish (GAF) permit which allows the angler to purchase a halibut to increase their take-home limits – if you are comparing guide companies, note that most other companies have not made the investment in this specialized permit. Charter halibut and GAF regulations change from year to year and are typically published by March of each year.
Since 2014, halibut managers have used a “reverse slot” management tool to ensure enough halibut are left in the water to maintain healthy stocks. This method by design allows the angler to retain halibut over and under a certain length, requiring anglers to release any halibut that are considered in the middle. The GAF permit does allow the angler to keep that halibut considered in the middle of the slot by purchasing it from the captain or guide. In order for a GAF permit to be issued to a charter guide or company, that individual must either own their own or lease some commercial halibut IFQ (Individual Fishing Quota) from a commercial halibut fisherman. GAF fish are considered a commercial halibut even though they are caught on rod and reel in this particular case. When an angler buys a GAF halibut, they are essentially buying a commercial halibut.
The price for GAF halibut changes from year to year and is based on the going rate for commercially caught and sold halibut as well as the average size for halibut which is determined each year by NOAA. Once these factors are known, the price for a GAF halibut can be calculated.
What makes this program so favorable amongst charter guides is that there is no pressure to buy a GAF halibut before your trip. You can decide on the spot after you reel in the fish and see for yourself whether you want to keep it or not. Additionally, the GAF program doesn’t remove any excess halibut from the ocean than what is factored into the normal fishing season hence making halibut fishing a healthy and sustainable fishery.
For example, an 80-pound halibut is approximately 55” long which would make this fish in the middle of the reverse slot and would normally be released however, if you wanted to buy this halibut with the 2021 prices it would cost $410.
Alaska Charters Fishing continues to participate and utilize the GAF program as an additional opportunity to make your halibut fishing experience more memorable and bountiful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime if you have any questions regarding how the GAF program works and how it can enhance your fishing trip.