Monster Halibut at Vesteralen for Sportquest
It is absolutely glorious weather at the time of writing this in Vesterålen, and only a few minutes ago I received a phone call from Daniel and Håkon who are out with Joe and Ian on a Halibut Drift. The shouts of joy over the phone were unmistakable… A monster has been landed on Vesterålen…
We can start with the fishing from this weekend. The weather has really been on our side again, and we have had the opportunity to fish many wonderful areas around the camp. On Friday, 4 boats with Anglers from England, including me and Daniel, went on the west side in search of the big Halibut. In the first drive, Joe in my boat hooked up fast. A nice Halibut of 87 cm came up to the boat edge. After a few pictures, the fish was put back nicely. Not long after, Daniel and his group get a Halibut of the same caliber. No monsters, but it was their first Halibut!
The fishing seemed to die off, even though we caught a couple of Halibut around the minimum size. The Anglers from Sportquest in boat 4, on the other hand, found a steep edge towards the deep channel where big fish were buzzing and feeding! A really good Coalfish shoal was next, and they landed several fish in the 10-kilo class at a depth of around 70 meters. There were even more nice Cod of around 10-15 kilos there.
The next day the wind was a little stronger. There were opportunities to go west, but the Anglers chose to treat themselves to the camp in some of the fine current Coalfish in the vicinity in search of Halibut. The Anglers from Sportquest in boat 4 had a really nice day with several nice Halibut being landed! Only a short distance from the camp they manage to land 4 Halibut. There were two nice top fish of 120 cm and 118 cm, plus a couple of fish immediately above the minimum size. At the end of the day, Ian’s jig finally saw a fish, and there was a commotion in the boat! A hard fight ensued, and Joe helped his father throughout the fight. Up and down 4 times, before Joe could land a really nice dream fish of 135 cm!
On the same day, the Jørgensen family from Denmark went out to Jørnfjorden for some non-fishing. There were some nice Redfish up to a little over 3 kilos just a few minutes away from the camp. But on the last cast, Pia was going to hook on to something they had never seen before. They saw something resembling a giant herring, but later realized that this was something else with much larger eyes. Back at the camp, we met the Danes down on the pier, and they wondered what they had got on the hook. It was a Guldlax / Vassild! We saw that it was quite large and we weighed it at 950 grams! Which is a new NSA record for Pia! Big congratulations for an extremely cool fish! It shows what richness in species we have around the camp here in Vesterålen. Even big whiting came up that day!
On Sunday, the weather was supposed to be good again, and we gathered a number of boats to fish for Halibut in the areas where the fish had been crusing the day before. Unfortunately, the Halibut were not completely on fire this day, but some nice Halibut came up. The Anglers from Sportquest in boat 2 got a couple of nice fish around the meter which were put back nicely again. This day I was out with Joe and Ian again, and we landed a small Halibut of about 75 cm when we agreed to run some Cod to end the day. We found a really good Cod shoal. Håkon even got a really pretty Pollack out here at 6.7 kilos. A really nice end to a really nice day with 20 degrees and sun!
Monday morning the weather was at its peak again! Daniel and Håkon went out with Joe and Ian, and today’s goal was BIG Halibut, And well, you can say that they succeed! Around lunch, I got a FaceTime from the boat and saw that Ian had a really good fish! Daniel told me that the fish never left the bottom and that it was really heavy. I got most of what happened with me, but it is probably better that Daniel is allowed to tell this story himself…
After a Halibut of smaller caliber was landed on the spot fairly immediately, we see a really nice echo rises on the sonar, seconds later everything happens very quickly. Joe’s father Ian gets a bite on his fireball tackle but misses the strike, but the Halibut clearly got more taste from Ian’s Coalfish and a second later it slams on again and this time Ian managed to hook it and the Halibut carries away in a rush , Joe was quick to reach out to his dad before helping to hold the reins. The minutes go by but we do not get any line on the fish, we call Jørgen and turn on FaceTime so he can also see what is happening. time goes by but with the old rod and the old reel that was used we did not manage to get a single meter of line on the fish, Joe got tired in the arms and changed with our intern Håkon.
Everything goes relatively calmly until the Halibut decides before starting to swim south towards the base peak which is only at 7 meters depth I drove after Halibut with the boat before keeping it straight under the boat and after about a hundred meters it stops just before the base, after approx. 35 minutes and a lot of boating on my part, we manage with the help of pulling in the line with our hand to the reel to start lifting the fish from the bottom. The fish is starting to come to the surface and I can well say that I have never been so nervous in my whole life before landing a fish!
When it comes to the surface after 45 minutes It felt like everything was in slow motion, when I have to thread through the halibut hook at the lower jaw of the fish happens what must not happen the fish starts shaking and tears off the paw and one of the hooks on the tackle gets stuck in my hand, Joe and Håkon do everything they can before keeping the fish still and after about half a minute they manage to get everything under control and were able to secure the dream fish for Ian. When we take out the ruler, we realize that after careful measurement, we were able to constant that the fish was a full 222cm long and has a weight over 150kg according to the weight table! After a bunch of pictures we released it and it swam nicely down into the depths again. With a teamwork of the highest class and Ian who never gave up during the fight, this could be possible.
In other words, Vesterålen has once again shown its best side. The big Halibut are out here, and we have been in contact with several big fish. The species richness is completely unique around the camp, and the peaks out by the open sea are home to coarse Cod and strong Coalfish. Tomorrow a new group of guests arrives, and we are excited to say the least!
Daniel Freland, Jørgen Zwilgmeyer & Håkon Nilsen
Thanks guys for this awesome report and a huge well done to our anglers! That really is a fish of a lifetime Joe, now you’re aiming for the 250s! We are loving these reports and it is making us even more excited to get back out there ourselves.
Fancy joining us in Norway to Vesterålen? Get in touch on 01603 407596