How to handle halibut.

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Handling Halibut

A halibutís mass of muscle can injure or kill the unprepared. I recall a buddyís first introduction to a halibut: he dropped a 40-pounder on the deck straight from the sea without killing or subduing it first. As he bent down to try and control the angry mass, the halibutís tail slapped his chest and face until he hosted two black eyes and a cracked rib!

Subduing a halibut, safety and proper care for the dinner table go hand in hand. Do it right and youíll have top-quality fillets to eat. Do it wrong and you may need help feeding yourself!

While many halibut hunters argue the virtues of a gun when subduing halibut over 50-pounds, many others opt for a safer harpoon or flying gaff. If you choose to shoot a halibut in the head, you might destroy its cheeks, the best eating part of the beast. And donít forget, Canada frowns of the use of guns, especially pistols.

Netting halibut under 50-pounds remains a practice, but only by those whoíve never landed one before. Gaff or harpoon the little guys, youíll save yourself the cost of a net in most cases.

Trumble offers this advise, "You want to keep the halibutís head under water. As soon as you bring the head out of the water, they go crazy. I donít bring any big fish on board, until itís dead."

When harpooning a halibut, aim for a solid area, behind the head and ram all the way through with the harpoon. A line attached to a "Scottsman" buoy can be thrown overboard if necessary, just like having a trout on a bobber and worm. Wait for the fish to tire and bleed, bring it alongside the boat, hog tie it and cut the gill rakers. Bleeding the fish helps to kill the beast along with providing bloodless meat. Once the halibut is dead, put Ďem on ice if you can.

Filleting halibut yields a better product than steaking. If you plan on freezing the fillets longer than two months, leave the skin on and rinse the fish with saltwater before vacuum packing. This method ensures top-quality meat for many months.

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Copyright John L. Beath 2000 a division of Pacific Lure Communications


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