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Giant halibut and absolutely glorious weather! – Vesterålen Fishing Report

What a week it has been in Vesteralen, it just goes to show that when the weather is on our side, the rewards wont be far behind, with this week seeing multiple PB’s broken!

Giant halibut and absolutely glorious weather in Vesterålen!

It’s hard to sum up this week to the fullest, but I’ll try my best. It has been amazing this week, and we have had luck on our side with the weather. Virtually every day we have been able to choose and start some long trips, and the temperature can not be complained about either. Although the weather started a bit bad last week, the gang that arrived at the camp was more than eager to get out. Thursday morning promised some rain, and 7-8 ms. This week, Håkon and I had double guiding booked in every day, so Håkon drove the Guide boat, and I drove the gang in boat 6. We knocked ourselves out in some waves and thought of fishing an area that has delivered well with fish lately. But once in place, it was actually quite quiet. We drove around in teams and tried to find the fish, but only the big fish turned up. Not quite what we were looking for, but the guys got a little pole bend anyway. After a few hours of searching, we decided to search in an area a little further south, and here it was fish heaven! They were not the biggest Cod, but we got fish! We drove a little further on a shallower flake, and Tobias threw down a Coalfish. Tobias had chosen this slightly larger Coalfish for Kveita, and it did not take long before the reel screamed! At a depth of 18 meters it narrowed, and Tobias shouted “HALIBUT”. I got ready with the halibut hook, but the fish would not come up yet. A couple of times up and down to the bottom, before I could secure Tobias’ first Halibut for the trip. We measured this beauty to 118 cm! What a start to the trip. We continued our fishing, but the conditions were quite unpleasant, so we called it a day after a short trip, and recharged for tomorrow’s long trip.

On Friday, it was going to be good weather. The wind had died down completely, the sun was peeking out and the temprature showed 20 plus degrees. This was going to be an insanely great day. At 9 o’clock we drove 3 boats towards our long trip 35 minutes out to sea. The actual drive out was just absolutely amazing in itself. Long soft swells and zero wind. After a good hour we were all in place on the first fishing spot. Here the Coalfish were full on, and the Cod could be seen hunting freely in the middle water. We got the lures down, and it did not take long before the first Cod were on board. There was talk of 10-15 kilos of Cod just as often, and some nice ones in the 7-8 kilos class. When we were happy with this fishing, we moved to the long edge. Here it really did not take long before I hooked the first Ling of about 15 kilos. After that it was pretty quiet. We caught some Cod over 10 kilos, but we moved back to the marker where I hooked the first Ling, and then it smacked for Peter right away! We noticed that the heavy rolling and barring could not be anything other than Ling. Not entirely wrong, Peter’s first big Ling comes up to about 20 kilos! We drifted on, and Peter was going to hook a big fish again!

This time a giant Cod in the 20 kilo class! But at the same time as Peter gets on this one, Krister is standing in the bow with a powerful pole bend! Now we were very unsure of what this was, because in several cases we have lost large Ling that have cut 1.2 mm mono straight off. But the tip of the rod stood completely still. Not much really happened. It was just very heavy. Nor did we know how well this fish was hooked, and took it very carefully. After pumping for 15 minutes, it is approaching, and I see a large flake under the boat. I do not even have time to estimate the size before it dives down to 85 meters deep again. But this was without a doubt Krister’s dream fish. The fight continued and now it was really tough. for 30 minutes it was 5 meters up, 5 meters down. In the end, the fish gives in, and Krister can start the tough fight up.

It was very hot, and the sweat ran. Krister fought like a hero and won meter by meter. We were really excited about how big this was, and after 1 hour of fighting, I was able to secure Krister’s biggest Halibut ever! The intoxication of happiness was palpable, and after securing the fish, we can measure this angry madam to 174 cm! A bit of a battle at 80-90 meters deep .. After some pictures, we put back this beautiful fish and see her swim down to the depths again… How this day should continue did not matter much anymore. There was a lyrical atmosphere in the boat. Although Krister would have liked to have had a pretty Ling , this Halibut was probably a notch above. Other boats also had insane fishing. Håkon and the gang in boat 6 got several nice Ling between 15-20 kilos, and coarse Cod in the 20+ class. The guys in boat 5 also had a great fishing, and caught the biggest Cod of the day at 27 kilos! That we also had a wild encounter with killer whales at the end of the day really topped this long trip. Brilliant sun, calm winds, big fish and playful killer whales are the recipe for a crazy experience!

Saturday turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day as well. On Friday night we got another 2 boats with a large group from the Umeå area who came on a family trip. The weather allowed another long trip, and this gang took advantage of it. The sea was flat, and yesterday’s fishing made the team good at getting out. I even went out with the gang in boat 6 to try to get some Cod and Halibut. Håkon went even further north on targeted Halibut, and succeeded well with it! There were 3 Halibut in the 80-100 cm class. We even had pretty tough fishing. We tested several different places, but little happened. Out on a shallow top it was full of small Coalfish, but unfortunately there was not much Cod there. But Matthias had something that liked his Coalfish, and it started to tick out line. He hooks the fish, and we conclude with the shakes and rushes that this was Halibut. After a few minutes of fighting, the fish unfortunately loosens. But at least it gave us hope! We fished on without much luck. In the last hour I put an drift in an area where we have got several nice ones inside, and not entirely wrong there was a big fish there this time too… At the end of the drift, it went heavy for Tobias, and he almost thought he had the bottom. I had to double check that it was fish, and knew the good swings in the rod. Now it was big fish! It held the bottom for a couple of minutes until Tobias put hard pressure on it. This was a very kind fish that only took 10 minutes to get up. With hard pressure you can get them up quickly. We see the big fish under the boat, and we can land a completely insane fish of 177 cm after only a few minutes of fighting! Luck was loose, and Tobias jumped out with this dream fish! Unfortunately, I had snapped too many pictures inside, and ran out of memory. Fortunately, it was an ok picture of Tobias with the fish in the water. Memory is the most important thing… Congratulations on a fantastic PB halibut Tobias!

The next day it was also absolutely brilliant to be like the days before. I drove the Guide boat north and had to test some new places. We stopped at a shallow peak to fish for small Coalfish, but at a depth of 10-15 meters there was coarse Cod under the Coalfish. Lennart was quick to throw out the jig, and barely managed to jerk once before the first 10 kilo Cod came up! This fishing continued for a long time, and it is extremely fun with large Cod in shallow water. After fishing happily on, we put a Halibut drift, and after only a couple of minutes it screamed in the reel to Peter, and we could land a nice food Halibut of 92 cm. We continued to test new spots all day without much success. Luckily we found several peaks that kept nice Cod and big Pollack that we could entertain ourselves with. In other boats, some large Cod around 15 kilos were caught, and in boats 1 and 2, they caught some great Coalfish up to 14 kilos! Can also mention that they took a couple of Halibut drifts at the end, and got a great Halibut immediately over the meter mark! Håkon also took an evening pass with the boys in boat 5 to teach them a little more about Halibut fishing. They had several contacts, but at the end, Magnus was finally going to be a solid fish, and he could land the first Halibut of his life at around 100 cm!

On Monday, Tobias and I were going on an expedition a little further north to test further new spots. We chose a very exciting base, but there were only a few contacts in this place. A little further south are Håkon and Guidebåten. They have an excellent Cod session in shallow water to start with. But in the first Halibut drift for the day, it hits Peter once again, and he can get up the day’s first Halibut of 107 cm! They move further south during the day, and fish from a shallow peak that uses to keep a good mix of fish. In the middle of the seist hour, Håkon drops a bait Coalfish, and it slams right away! Håkon had hooked an angry 120cm halibut that bent on a wonderful fight! Even so, we had quite a hard time, and lost a couple of ok Halibut. But we had to test the last place of the day when it finally moves to the bar. We immediately noticed that there was Halibut going on. At 50 meters of water I could slowly start pumping up the fish, but it would go down again. I hand over Tobias’ pole and he fights the rest. It was a nice Halibut of 102 cm, finally! But when we came back ashore, boat 5 could tell about a wild fishing for Halibut. They had landed several fish between 85 and 110 cm, where the largest of the day ended up at 135 cm! Finally it had cracked for this gang, and the grins went from ear to ear when we talked to them on the pier…

Then it was the last day. The week had already delivered above expectations, and Lennart and Krister were in charge of today’s fishing in the Guide boat. Then it was up to me and Peter to fix another big Halibut. After seeing Krister’s fight and fish a few days earlier, Peter was well on his way to pulling a big one himself. We started well with a Halibut just below the minimum size which of course had to go back. As we move even further north, it does not take many minutes before it smacks again. This time a Halibut of 82 cm. We have some more drifts in the same area, and have several clear contacts, but no fixed fish. In the same area are boats 1 and 2, and they get a great Halibut of 115 cm! There were only a couple of hours left of the fishing, and we moved a little further north and put a drift in a nice gutter. But here it was thick with medium-sized Coalfish, and we felt that this felt uncomfortable, and moved on to a flake. Very little happened, but it was all right. The fishing had been absolutely insane all week, so we were happy anyway. But when you least expect it, it happens. My rod twitches calmly, and the line slowly ticks out. I tighten up and it stops completely. Then I hand the rod over to Peter, and followed by a brutal rush, we realize that this was no small fish. It blew a little more, and the fish wanted the other way. So we got to drive after. The fish pressed along the bottom and was very heavy and lifting. But with hard pressure, Peter turns his head up and he can start pumping. It went very smoothly, and we can see the fish for the first time, and it stood completely still for us for a few seconds before she turned her head and sped down to the depths again. This was a big fish! Then it was back to scratch. The heavy pumping. It goes smoothly, and the fish comes up again. This time I do not get to put the halibut hook correctly, and the Halibut says no. 100 meters straight out! Now I really got to drive after and Peter got stuck! Then it was on again. All good things come in 3s, and that was true this time too. On the 3rd attempt I was finally able to secure Peter’s dream fish, which we then measured to a full 190 cm !! It was almost unreal that it happened. The cheers were loose. The dream fish really put in the last hour of the week… For a conclusion! It was all celebrated with a cold beer on the pier and a pretty cool PB bath for Peter. Congratulations so much Peter, this one you deserved!

Tight Lines // Jørgen Zwilgmeyer, Håkon Nilsen

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