By: Chris Shaffer
There’s no doubt Alaska serves up some of the best lingcod fishing in the world. And, while some areas offer better fishing than others nobody will argue how good the fishing is out of Valdez during the summer months. Of all the ports in Alaska, Valdez is one of our favorite, partially because Valdez Outfitters is reliable, professional and always provides us with world-class fishing experiences, and also because the lingcod fishing is unforgettable.
Meanwhile, Mother Nature doesn’t always let us fish, at least not where we want to. In fact, we have been to Valdez four of the last six years to film Pautzke Outdoors and this August was the first time we were able to head offshore into the Gulf of Alaska do to favorable water conditions. It’s no secret I don’t like rough seas. Many anglers share that feeling with me. Fortunately, there was no Dramamine or Bonine necessary on this trip (even though I took some just in case).
For a change the weather cooperated and allowed us to bolt on a 35-mile trek into the Gulf of Alaska in search of some of the best lingcod fishing on the planet. The journey of a lifetime was more than 120 miles each way. Round trip it was almost the same as our drive from Anchorage to Valdez.
It was worth it.
Within seconds of dropping our first line to the bottom we immediately hooked up and were able to catch-and-release dozens of lingcod in a few short hours while taking a few home for dinner. While expected (due to the photos Valdez Outfitters sends us daily) it is still indescribable how good the fishing can be. For many anglers who spend their time fishing California, Oregon and Washington it’s almost impossible to describe how good fishing is when weather permits boats this far into the Pacific.
With the season closed in June, July and August provide the best lingcod fishing. We were thankful to be able to experience this fishery after so many years of not being able to break beyond protected waters. Every ling we caught ranged between 20-35 pounds. We caught several over 40 pounds, not to mention one that tipped the scale at 50.
There’s no reason to mislead anybody. We take pride in being honest. We all know you can catch a lingcod with just a jig. They are super aggressive fish and will eat almost anything. On the other hand, obviously were a bait company and going to use our own product if we’re filming. In this case we experimented with scent because Captain Brian Rhodes was often times too busy to bait our hooks due to fish biting continuously, not having a deckhand and having to maneuver the boat in heavy current. What we discovered was every time we tipped a jig with a piece of herring that was soaked in Pautzke Halibut Nectar we caught larger fish and bites came more often.
When we first dropped jigs to the bottom they did get hit right away, but after we caught one or two fish bites were far less frequent unless we tipped the bait with the herring soaked in the Halibut Nectar. It clearly made a difference on this day. We employed 16-ounce lead head jigs with large grub tails. One thing I did catch Rhodes doing often was applying Atlas Mike’s Halibut Lunker Lotion to the jig. It was proof that even with aggressive predators scent makes a difference.
These two scents helped us catch massive yellow eye, too.
Unfortunately, due to it already being late in the season we are not going to release this episode of Pautzke Outdoors until July 1st of next year (that’s when the 2020 season opens). However there’s still time to head out on your own or wit