For a long time I’ve had a dream of catching a double figure halibut off the shore. I’ve caught quite a few halibut from boats, but prior to mid February, I’d only caught one small 2lb fish in Iceland while shore fishing.
I was due out in central Norway to fish with Ian Peacock, UK representative of Din Tur, a Norwegian adventure holiday company, and joining me would be friend and work colleague Steph Monaghan from Pure Fishing.
We had already enjoyed several good days shore fishing for cod, but decided to try a mark Ian had found sometime previously that had produced good fishing for a variety of species including haddock, coalfish and cod.
I set up on the edge of a small bay leading back in to a little harbour. In front of me was a small island about 400-metres away and this would channel the tide a little and hopefully concentrate the fish. I started fishing and with each cast put the bait out in to a different area until I found a small area with more depth. This seemed to be a slight incline that dropped in to about 20-metres of water. I’d also found that just 25-yards out in front of me was a vertical ledge falling away in to deeper water that any fish I hooked would have to be brought over. Hmmm…not that easy!
I needed tackle tough enough to beat a big fish, should one happen along, so chose to fish with an ABU Atlantic 464 rod and a Penn 525Mag2 reel loaded with 20lb Penn line and a 60lb shock leader. The rod is a powerful, fast taper action capable of casting 6ozs of lead and a big bait, and has the backbone to bully big fish when needed. Equally the ultra tough gears and smooth drag system on the 525 are a massive advantage when a big fish is hooked.
It was coming up to high water slack and I put out a large bluey bait presented on a Pennel Pulley rig using two size 6/0 hooks. Almost straight away I got a bite, but this was just a greedy little 3lb codling with eyes bigger than his belly.
Putting on a fresh big bluey bait I cast out to the same place and put the rod in the rod rest. I sat back to wait.
Ten minutes or so later I saw a slight dip of the rod tip, then another. Suddenly the rod tip powered over and the rod butt came up off the floor as a big fish made off with the bait. I instantly grabbed the rod, wound down on the fish and hit the hook home. Whatever was out there felt big, heavy and very solid!
The response from the fish was immediate. It powered off on an unstoppable run taking somewhere between 30 and 40-metres of line off the reel. I felt the fish rush across the seabed and instinctively knew exactly what I’d hooked.
The fish stopped briefly then took off on another powerful run. Keeping pressure on the fish all the time I made it work hard to try and tire it out. It went to ground, but hard pressure made it move and rip more line off the reel again as it accelerated away. The fish made several more short but powerful runs before once more sitting tight on the seabed.
This was my chance. Using the full power of the rod I piled the pressure on and once the fish was moving towards me I kept it coming, literally bullying the fish up and over that dangerously sharp rock ledge in front of me. It worked and the fish came in to view swimming parallel to me about 20-yards out and close to the surface. It was a halibut, and a good one!
The fish turned for the seabed and tried one last hard run to try to get back over the ledge and reach that deeper water, but heavy rod pressure turned it and once more it swam parallel back and forth in front of me. I deliberately allowed the fish to do this to fully tire it before bringing it close in for landing. One of the other anglers came across now to help and went down on to the rocks to gill the fish for me. I brought the fish in nose first and anxiously watched as he lifted the fish up to safety. One glance and I knew I’d got my double figure halibut off the shore. On the scales it weighed 15lb 10ozs! A dream fish!
Steph also flew the company colours getting in on the action fishing one of the new ABU Flying C type lures to land a cracking pollack that looked close to 5lbs the same day.