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Outdoor Journal

In Search of an Oregon Picnic Table
by Tim Rozewski

The world record sportfishing caught halibut is around 440lbs, caught in Alaska. Oregon doesn't have halibut anywhere near the size of those proclaimed "barn doors" of Alaska. A goodin' in Oregon weighs in around 70lbs and above, as we've so nicknamed them "picnic tables", you may still need a partner to hoist one of these bad boys up!

Annually halibut migrate from deeper colder waters of the north to slightly warmer waters off of the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts. As well, many of the big brutes that Alaska is so famous for also migrate to Alaska's shallower depths, often to waters as shallow as 8 fathoms (48 feet).

Whether all the big ones stay up north for the abundent food supply, scientists only know. What is consistent though is the fact the halibut off of the Oregon coast are all less than 120 lbs. Big fish in these waters are not rare, nor are they common. Many avid halibut angles believe that these fish often school with fish of similar size, while others believe that the bigger halibut off of the Oregon coast are looking for very specific habitat. What ever the reason, the real big halibut don't make it as far south as Oregon. But, once you hook into one of our "picnic tables" you'll be slighly happy that it wasn't much bigger!

We target a couple of different areas for bigger halibut. Maybe it's our theory, but we have found our biggest fish in areas not typically fished as heavy by anglers. There is a trade off. Often these areas don't provide near the number of fish; but so far they have been bigger.

Here are a few of our tips for tackling...I mean handling, bigger halibut.

  • Always be prepared for a larger fish, have your gear ready and at hand.
  • Don't bring a large halibut onto your boat deck alive unless you want broken limbs or broken gear!
  • Use a harpon that you can first tie off to a boat cleat. At the very least, use two gaffs.
  • We don't recommend the use of firearms to dispatch large halibut only for safety sake. Too many risks.
  • Once you have a bigger fish near the boat, losen your drag a bit. A big sudden run by that fish could break you off, break gear, or test your flotation device.
  • As with all halibut, once the fish is on board and dispatched, bleed them out.

It also helps to have some beginner's luck!

~Good Fishin' - Tim

Contact us for more information about Oregon's Halibut season!