Boston Harbor Halibut?

Last week, Captain Van Christie of Karavi Charters in Boston sent in this email about a massive flatfish he caught in Boston Harbor.

Captain Van with his halibut before release.

During this past memorial day weekend, I took a day to fish for myself.  I was live lining mackerel for striped bass when my port side rod started screaming.  But the hit was gone as quick as it came and the bait was no more.  As I brought it the line, I noticed the starboardside rod slowly bending over.  I thought for sure I had snagged the bottom, but that did not make sense as I was in water about 70 feet deep and still moving.I grabbed the rod and pulled hard on it.  “Yup I’m hung up on the bottom”.   Or so I thought.  Whatever I snagged was very heavy but was coming up.

Suddenly I felt a shake.   Wow, there’s a fish on there!  I thought maybe a striper got wrapped in a pot line or bottom debris.  Slowly the fish was coming up.  But when it sounded and took back all the line I had just gained in a matter of a few seconds, I knew it was not a bass.  The fight continued and it sounded once more, but finally tired out.

 Now I just wanted to see what I had.  It felt like nothing I have caught before.

When it came to the boat I’m pretty sure I said to myself in a joking way, “Look at the size of that flounder”!  But I quickly realized it was a halibut.  I carefully lifted her into the boat, took a couple measurements and pictures.  It was a 38” and 22 lb.  My buddy Frank was fishing nearby and came by and took some pictures from his boat before I set her free.   

An unusual catch for Boston Harbor -- a 22-pound halibut -- hits the deck.

I never imagined I would catch this type of fish while trolling for bass.  But you never know what you might catch or how big, that’s the mysterious part of fishing I love.  Last season I caught an 8 ½-foot thresher shark while bluefishing only a short distance from this equally strange catch.

 Maybe this was a sign of restoration of another fishery.  I sure hope so.

Atlantic halibut can grow to weights in excess of 600 pounds.

The Atlantic halibut is the largest of the flatfishes, even bigger than its Pacific counterpart, and may be capable of growing to 700 pounds, the largest on record in the Gulf of Maine weighing in at 615 pounds, gutted. Halibut are voracious predators, eating any unlucky creature that gets too close, including cod, herring haddock, and reportedly sea birds (likely ones that had already perished and sank to the depths).

Today, Atlantic halibut are a “Species of Concern” thanks to heavy overfishing in the 19th Century. There has been no sign of rebuilding to date, but catches like Captain Van’s may indicate that slowly, these massive flounder are gaining a toehold on their path to recovery.

8 on “Boston Harbor Halibut?

    1. Pete

      Catch and release was a nice idea here but from the pics it looks like the fish was held by both gill plates, one side for one pic the other side for the second. As such it likely eventually died since sticking your fingers in the gills is like poking the inside of your lungs- not good for breathing.

  1. Jason

    NICE, Congratulations!! ~ Good Job releasing her back too!
    your they guy that caught the Thresher last year too…. Man you got some interesting Luck! (HaHa)

  2. ED

    Dont tell anyone when you catch fish like that,Next thing you know the dragers will be everwhere .They will be calling the government saying the fish stock has rebounded and healthy.They will want to up there limits. Oh by the way NICE FISH glad you put it back !!!!!!

  3. kevin

    I like to Boston for halibut fishing in July, I don’t know how and where I can make reservation.

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