Big halibut caught near Anacortes

Brian Punch of Oak Harbor hoists a 103-pound halibut.

This wasn’t the sort of fishing Brian Punch grew up around back home in Louisiana.

Yet a tip he got from his dad when he was a boy resonated with him while he and two friends were fishing for halibut earlier this month near Anacortes.

Punch’s friend, Aaron Manisi, asked him what he ought to do with some trout that stayed in his freezer too long.

“I said, ‘Give them to me,’” Punch said. “We used to use (fish) heads to catch catfish back home.”

The Southern remedy worked wonders in Puget Sound waters, too.

Using fish heads as bait, Punch, with the help of his friends, reeled in a 103-pound halibut on May 9, the opening day of recreational halibut fishing in north Puget Sound.

Halibut catches that size are uncommon in Puget Sound waters. Punch, who lives in Oak Harbor, had never caught a fish that big before.

Heather Reed, Coastal Marine Resources Policy Coordinator with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said Punch’s halibut is the biggest she’s heard of caught in Puget Sound so far this season from reported samplings that tend to trickle in slowly.

Halibut fishing will continue in Puget Sound in marine areas 5-10 May 29-31 and again June 7, Reed said.

Punch said he hooked into the halibut in about 80 feet of water within sight of the Skyline Marina in Anacortes.

He said it took about 40 minutes to get him to the boat, where he was harpooned.

“It took three of us to pull him over the gunnel,” Punch said.

Punch’s friends joked that he caught his yearly halibut limit in one fish.

“I’m a pretty avid fisherman,” Punch said, “but I’ve never got one that big.”