Alaska's halibut are called barndoors for a reason: The largest sport-caught halibut tipped the scales at 455 pounds. While that grandma was a rarity, you can expect to catch lots of "chicken"-fish in the 20-80 pound range-and feast on their sweet, firm meat.
Halibut charters depart in the early morning and are full day. You'll need to take an hour or longer boat ride out onto the ocean to nab one of these behemoths, and once they bite, be prepared for a real wrestling match. Regardless of your success, you'll be out on the white-capped waves, with glaciers and peaks in the distance.
From Anchorage, the two nearest jumping off points for great halibut fishing are Homer and Seward, each with their own distinctive character.
"Alaska's halibut capital" • Longer drive than Seward but shorter boat ride • 5 hr drive or 1 hr flight
Homer is an eclectic, laid-back town of artists and fishermen that lies at the end of the Sterling Highway. It's the gateway to Kachemak Bay, one of the richest bays in the world. Homer is off the cruise circuit and appeals to more independent and adventure-minded visitors. You'll find prime halibut fishing just 40-80 minutes from the harbor. Enjoy views of mountains and volcanoes and keep an eye out for whales, thousands of shorebirds, and other marine life. Limit catches (two fish) are the rule, not the exception.
Shorter drive than Homer but longer boat ride • 2.5 hr drive or 4.5 hr train
Just a 2½-hour scenic drive south from Anchorage, Seward is a picturesque seaside town with a bustling harbor, quaint shops, and the gateway to nearby Kenai Fjords National Park. Fish the deep waters of the North Gulf Coast, about an hour and a half by boat from Seward harbor. Sea lions, sea otters, puffins, porpoises, ducks, humpbacks, and orcas may wait en route. Many guided charters spot whales while fishing. Come August, compete for $100,000 of prize money in the annual Silver Salmon Derby.