Video: Ice Fishing Anglers Triple-Team a 112-Pound Halibut

This could be the largest fish ever caught while ice fishing. And it was all done for science.

Video: Ice Fishing Anglers Triple-Team a 112-Pound Halibut

When ice fishing, you never really know what you’ve hooked until it appears in the hole. Sure, depending on the conditions (specific lake, depth, etc.) you typically have a good idea which species is putting a bend in the rod, but at the very least, fish size is still a surprise until the very end.

Such is the case in the 9-minute YouTube video below. The date is March 4, 2023, and the ice anglers shown are Denis Lavergne, Stephane Rivard and Jean-François Simard. First a bit of background. 

Simard is a wildlife technician for the Quebec government, and although it’s illegal for anglers to target Atlantic halibut in the province, the government allowed it during the winter of 2022/2023 on Saguenay Fjord. The reason? Scientists wanted to gather halibut biological data.

Simard says that the primary species found in Saguenay Fjord are Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut and redfish. Now here’s where it gets interesting: Evidently, a layer of freshwater flows over saltwater in the Fjord. The freshwater freezes thick enough during winter to make ice fishing a safe endeavor, and knowledgeable anglers can use heavy weights to reach saltwater species in the depths. How far below the surface? Simard says the Fjord’s maximum depth is a bit more than 800 feet!

The trio’s Atlantic halibut was analyzed at the Fjord Museum; it tipped the scales at 112 pounds.
The trio’s Atlantic halibut was analyzed at the Fjord Museum; it tipped the scales at 112 pounds.

As you watch the video, pay attention to these details. Initially the guys are jigging through four holes (8-inch diameter is my guess) drilled in a row, and an ice chisel was likely used to cut out the remaining ice to connect the holes in a long line. Halibut are shaped like a sunfish (generally), so this long-and-skinny hole system makes sense.

One problem: The halibut they hook is too fat to fit through these four linked holes. You don’t see it in the video, but Simard says the first time they gaffed the monster fish, they couldn’t get it through the opening. So they un-gaffed it, then carefully drilled additional holes with an auger to widen the opening. Incredibly, they accomplished this feat without cutting the line. You can see the new wider hole system at the video’s 4:56 mark.

You’ll see all three anglers take turns fighting the halibut. As an avid ice fisherman, I can tell you these guys were “loaded for bear.” The heavy-power, solid-fiberglass rod is a must to fight a fish of this size, and it’s matched with a series 8000 spinning reel, which Simard said was spooled with 65-pound-test braid. The halibut attacked an 8-ounce jigging spoon tipped with smelt.

Viewing tip: If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to watch the entire battle, fast-forward to when the guys ready the gaff at the 6:22 mark.

I don’t speak French, but after the guys get the gaff solidly in the halibut’s lower jaw, you can hear them yell “one, two, three!” at the 6:40 mark to coordinate their efforts pulling the fish from the hole. Amazing catch!


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